IV. Seeing In


Sight, Vision, Insight


Insight, seeing in—into

the centre, to

the heavenly houses

built in the soul,

or in the heavens,

or both?


The gates open

as evening darkens,

angels carry flowers,

prayers inward,



The heavens open

in the Temple’s heart.

The prophet looks up,

and the angels descend

the ladder of the spheres.


We descend the rungs

into ourselves, into

our heart’s chambers

that pump life’s blood.

—Michael E. Stone

24 June 2009 London






Even at the height of the ebb I live.

The moon is what draws the waves of my soul

back and forth

from ebb to flow.

Trash is revealed on the shore

when the water draws back.

Things I left on the bottom of the sea,

thinking their power

was gone,

their time over and done,

are suddenly revealed.

This is the moment to gather them up,

before the tide of pride returns.

Imri Perel

translated by Esther Cameron and Sarita Perel




Between Poems


You write a poem

when the poem lets you know it is ripe

ready to break off the branch  

ready to separate from you


Between poems you wait


You write a poem in response to distant pressure

that starts in your veins

then translates itself into rhythm


Between poems you wait


You write a poem when a sudden light

streaks meteor against a dark mass of sky

and you wonder breathless if you saw it at all  

if it will return

it returns a constellation

a choreography of light


Between poems you wait


You write a poem when you feel an arc

when you feel its upward tilt

when you feel an arc

from its half image you divine the whole


Between poems you wait


When you wait

not knowing if you are barren

or between births

set deep in stone gradients of silence  

or merely between refrains

you are a poet waiting for the poem

Judy Belsky




You are Not Alone


When writing, you are not alone, but face

yourself. Like looking in a magic mirror

with X-ray power, then a magic glass

both telescopic—an explorer's wand

that reaches distant times as well as places—

and microscopic—like a scientist's

which can reveal the smallest hidden spaces.

Remote things are transformed to something nearer;

thoughts that confused you last night now seem clearer,

as objects freed by dissipated mists.


The You in this case was a college class

at SUNY-Delhi. I was not respond-

ing to a question, but providing patter

between the recitations from my book—

which they had, mostly. Those without could look

up at the screen or share their neighbor's.


I looked up, there, half-hidden by their hands,

my name, on spines and jackets, blazoned through

the drab fluorescence, as if it might matter.


This morning, as I dote on dreamscape lands

and feelings’ fardels as daft poets do,

I’m dazzled by that deliquescent light,

wrapped in the image of them rapt before

me, and am not alone, for as I write

I hold them as they held me, each made more,

the oneness of us, mattering once again.

 James B. Nicola






If only the winged spirit would rest on me, if only

The one with wings three times folded inward

Whose wings are spotted with faded sparks

For every fold a name is written

On the fold line of the wings.


And the heretic spirit will come to me, if only,

Pulverised and pressed in the spirit-mill whose wings are clipped

And say to me: I am Zoharia

And look how I survive

And how I spread my wings

On which the marks of folding can be seen

And drink a whole barrelful of wine

To life, if only.


And the names that mark the folds fly off

One: Was

Two: Unknown

Three: If only

—Tirtsa Posklinsky Shehory

translated by Esther Cameron




Ballad of the Burnt-Out Prof


  . . . something . . . eternally gained

 for the universe . . .

                                  —William James


Old Duracell, old Mazda-man

you’ve got to keep the light—

it’s growing dim inside you

but that’s no time to hide you—

there’s just a chance you might

say something shedding light.


Old Candle-wick, old Burnt-out Prof,

(who calls himself the Bop)

old hairy ears and snout,


you gouty worn-out lout—

oh, call yourself a name, old cuss—

because you weren’t the best,

and yet you know it doesn’t matter,

no, not in the least.


Old geeze, don’t lose your grip,

don’t fall and break your hip—

you’ve got to keep the light, baldspot,

you’ve got to keep the light,

because there’s just a chance

if you keep the light, old souse,

if you keep the light,

there’s still a chance, though mad,

that there’s something left to add.


You’ve got to keep the light, old piles,

you’ve got to keep the light.

You know you’ve been a dog,

oh, you’ve acted like a trayf old hog,

but somehow in your life

you’ve had a loving wife,

so there must be something good about you,

you lousy lucky lout you—

all I ask of you, old candle,

is just to keep the Godblessed light,

and show a flash of pluck, old duck,

and with a bit of luck

you might come up with something

worthy of the world that you’ve surveyed.


You’ve been around so long now

you’ve got to hold some light,

whether hell or heaven

is waiting with its leaven

to galvanize you new again

for better or for worse,

old man of steel, who once pumped iron,

don’t listen to that deathly siren,

you’ve got to keep the light a while,

you’ve got to keep that gap-toothed smile,

you’ve got to keep the light alive

inside your horrible old hide,

because you still might do a thing

that’s worthy of its doing,

you’ve got to keep the light, old pipe,

you’ve got to keep the light.


You’ve written many a poem, old bard,

and published many too,

but I’ve got news for you, old prof,

I’ve got news for you—

you haven’t any right, old cough,

not to keep the light.

You don’t get off like that, old shakes

fall off the roof like that—

there’s plenty time to die, old guy,

plenty time to die,

so keep on pumping light, old Bop,

pumping students light!

—E.M. Schorb







Are we on trial, Mister K.?  It's late —

Too late, you claim — to go out looking for

A lawyer to defend us beggars, poor

And trembling in the dusk as we all wait

In pouring rain outside the castle gate

And hope in vain to see it open or

To hear the porter's steps.  It seems no door

Will soon unlatch to save us from our fate.


What is the metamorphosis we'll find

Upon our death?  You've warned us, Mister K.,

We'll be a cockroach, for neither wraith

Nor ghost survive the twilight of the mind.

Yet in that night, the worm of Jacob may

Become the monarch butterfly of faith.






The monarch butterfly of faith once reigned

As queen when all our fields were fragrant-green;

When purple orchids bloomed and streams flowed clean,

Her sovereignty appeared to be ordained.

And we, her subjects, gazed in awe, unfeigned

In homage and devotion to our queen

Whose wings of topaz-ruby-aquamarine

Proclaimed her reign a paradise regained.


Now exiled from that realm like fugitives,

We and our dethroned queen reside in gutters,

Where the stench of fetid sewage never dies.

Yet look — the butterfly of faith still lives;

Despite defeat, despite despair — she flutters;

Despite all doubts, despite all fears — she flies.






With a glance I devoured a piece of sky,

Liberated from between the clouds,


Impaling feathers in my flesh

Which I had been gathering with great pain,

Towards the time when the wind will rise

And I will take off

And crash.


And again the beating

Of wings

Dwells between my shoulder blades.

Not the wings of a raven,

Not the wings of a dove,

The wings of a falcon

Whose claws grasp the last serpent—

The wings of an angel of God.


And even those shall be shed

On the day I will fly

With the force of life alone.

—Imri Perel

translated by Esther Cameron and Sarita Perel





I throw my ring up high

attached to a golden chain,

to heaven I want to fly

to reach a higher plane.


Bound to earth, grounded,

I reach above, beyond the bar

to where love is boundless

to where the meanings are.


I throw my golden chain

above the clouds and dreams,

to reach the realm of the soul

to where things are what they seem.


Bound to horizons limited,

I yearn to stretch afar,

to reach the world of the spirits,

to catch my guiding star.

—Yocheved Miriam Zemel





Two Days Before

”O Lord, open my lips

And my mouth shall declare Your praise.”

Psalms 2:17


Two days before

the new moon

of the month

of miracles

I hear





close to

the music

beyond the



—Felice Miryam Kahn Zisken





The Song of Shmoneh Esreh*

dedicated to the Melech b’Sadeh**


Sometime the song wells up

through a chamber of my heart,

sometimes through a vibrato

in your soul,

sometimes it tickles through

the toes of my grandson

while he is scaling a wall

of Jerusalem stone.


Last night I heard it

without words,  

all eighteen daily blessings

seeking a mouth

to sound them,

not like an ancient aire

floating by on winds of night,

rather akin to a clump

of winged earth

eager to take root

in our so human flesh.


Beneath that canopy of loam

I glimpsed you, owner

of all fields, less of a lord

than a true friend

in feckless times.

—Vera Schwarcz

*”Eighteen” (Hebrew),  one of the terms for the standing prayer (Amidah) which some Jews say 3 times a day, others of us once or twice each day—it contains 18 (actually now 19) blessings

** ”The King in the field”: according, to Kabbalah, during the month of Elul before Rosh HaShanah, we find Hashem closer to us than at other times of the year, not the mighty Ruler ensconced in the Castle of Judgment, but wandering among us in the field, eager and ready to hear our needs, complaints & repentance.




The World Will Be Filled with Light


  ”A society must ask, seek and demand that each individual give something of him/herself…If all of us light the candle of our souls, the world will be filled with light.  ”

R. Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz


Lighting a candle


in the passage to the house


in the seam between day and night.



Lighting candles on the windowsill


for the miracles, for the Sabbath.


A place in the heart always prays.


When the soul shines

even skies wrapped in fog

shed a beautiful light.




Olive trees, cypress, young and old


reach for threads of gold


and our eyes see in one phial of oil




what cannot be seen.

—Felice Miryam Kahn Zisken





















—Esther Halpern

*first written as a prose sentence, turned into a word sonnet at the suggestion of Ruth Fogelman