Category Archives: Journeys

Letting Go (Green Light)

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by Dana Janine Diamond

 

The things we remember

my sister forgetting to put the car in park

in the temple parking lot

picking me up from day camp,

it rolled right into the shed in the back

and crashed the whole thing down,

that was a memorable mess,

oh my, I was about my daughter’s age then,

when I took the bus home from Camp Centerland

passing field flowers waving in the breeze

hundreds of bottles of beer on the wall

came down when Billy was one

and one of us was kissing someone

in a tree and yarn made cradles

while we sang in three part harmonies…

even with her forgetfulness that day

my sister held onto her boyfriend

more than forty years

and we can laugh

at all the mistakes made along the way.

 

 

Now, me, I’ve had a few accidents,

I dented our family garage while backing out early on,

which I’ve come to realize is pretty common

but then I must have had my mind on other things

which can happen when you’re on the run…

I’ll back up a bit now

to about a year before my sister got married,

I went away to a new camp

it seemed like every day was a dream

where I learned to sail

and water ski, fish and portage a canoe,

bunked with some kids from Mexico

and even faced a bear straight on.

I loved how the lights reflected in the lake

as we gathered for the Sabbath

I heard God singing in the trees

felt his breath upon me as I gazed

at his reflection rippling out from me.

 

 

One night I was particularly excited,

during the all-camp gathering to watch a movie

or some talent show,

I snuck out of the main hall in the dark

with the boy who beckoned me,

he wasn’t even the boy I was crushing on,

but he was very cute and what a catch!

What ten year old girl wouldn’t be thrilled

that an eighteen year old counselor

wanted to kiss her under the stars

cradled by the trees, feeling the foreign

sensation of his hand on her breast,

sometimes I look at pictures

of me and my group

dressed up for the 50’s dance,

jumping into the sun-warmed, still cool lake,

and think how small they looked,

they might have felt better

if he had waited a few years

because they really got bigger later on…

Did I mention he offered me a joint?

I didn’t need it, though, the kisses

and his touch were heady enough.

 

 

You can imagine my surprise

when one day about twenty years later

I drove to the movies at the Beverly Center

in my red mustang with a friend,

and as we were kibbitzing over popcorn

waiting for the feature to begin,

I saw my camp on the big screen

I actually stood up in the movie theater,

pointed and exclaimed,

that’s my camp!

Now, Hollywood being Hollywood

and Jewish geography being what it is,

serendipitously, I was invited to

the premiere, and I watched

the actor who looked just like the counselor

who felt me up

was made the hero and let go for some noble reason;

everyone has their own memory and point of view

and that writer is entitled to his.

I was a little shocked, though quietly so,

it’s taken me years to realize we’re all guilty

of glossing over the horrific parts.

 

 

So, the car I’m driving now

has really been jerking me around

it’s just not worth the price to fix it,

sometimes you have to let go

when something’s not working right,

and just get into something new

I guess I’m a suburban girl

through and through,

so much of my life

has been lived in a car,

(you know who you are)

’cause I don’t think I’m all that

forgettable, but, as I said, we all have our own stories

I often wonder what my daughter

will remember

it’s certainly not the things we own.

 

 

COPYRIGHT 2010 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com
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Poesie to rock, roll

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by Dana Janine Diamond

Poetry
is supposed
to relieve the pain
as an age-old antidote
via flowing anecdotes

poems navigate
intricate canals
and pebble-filled paths,
sing out in riotous gardens
in praise of glorious romance

gondola rides
timeless, without direction
voices raised
to operatic arias
over ancient rivers,
under breathtaking bridges
awakening
vivid street murals

prayers chanting
ebb and flow, ebb and flow
gently building
invisible architecture
we sense
citrus scents surrounding us

hiding won’t write
it will only wait
you out
this life, this life, this life
when will the dreams begin

who’s to say there’s a time
and an order
the petals on the water
will drift away
more will float by

scoop them in the boat
desperate for nature’s mystery
to be near us
let the warmth trickle
through fingertips

if only we could
remember
everything
if only we could
play the film
see the sea of
everything

we could right
the wrongs in the world
we could write
the good in the world
we could believe
in ourselves

if only
we could
be feminist primitives
luminous stars
lighting our own way

we could be poets
for eternity
our souls could row
above and beyond
and through the waters
revealing our essence
to blossom

COPYRIGHT 2018 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Truth and Forgiveness

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by Dana Janine Diamond

This year
I am starting to forgive
my ex-husband
for all the harm
he did
of course, it is not for me
to forgive
his evil deeds
toward others,
against my child.
and what is real
is that the best chance
he gave me
to forgive
him was in
dying young.
he tortured us
for too many years
and I could click my heels
now that he’s gone.
the rest of you
if you’re still alive
I wouldn’t hold my breath
are we supposed to ignore
the vengeful, angry God
who lives on
in all of us
should we pretend
there is only love
or are we meant
to emulate angels
who never move
their feet
are we never meant
to fly
across the horizon
will we ever see
all that is below and above…
we’re not done yet
so forgiveness is not
on the menu
this year
but I will sing
anyway
because I am moving
we are singing
my lips are praying
I have some measure
of happiness
and that is significant.
just one word
to the…
hey, God,
don’t close your eyes
on us
we have traveled
a year
and we are not there
yet
wondering
are you


COPYRIGHT 2017 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Prayers for a Queen to step out of her shadow

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By Dana Janine Diamond

Buried
all the pain
but it insists
on climbing through the mist
skeletal fingers
clawing, peering
out of the mud
feeling their way
pulling us back
underground
it’s been more
so much more
it shouldn’t have been
at all
for all the little flowers
emanating light
sending wishes
like honey candles
in the blue, sugared night
I don’t know
if a new sun,
a new year
holds more promises
than the last
I don’t know
if faith works
I don’t know
what hope will bring
all my memories
are here with me now
maybe this is why
we mark time
so we can remember
our parents’ songs
so we can sing
with our children
maybe this year
I won’t be alone
on the floor
of the chapel outskirts
awash in angst and despair
maybe this year
the good
will outnumber
the pain
there is no telling.
All the intellect
and intricate beauty
brings minute comfort
in moments
such as these
the unfathomable
governs
but we rise
by uttering, recognizing,
naming
our blessings
praising gratitude
and abundant, unending love.


COPYRIGHT 2017 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Buffalo

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By Dana Janine Diamond

What did I know of poetry?
White snow and dreams
empty trees below my window
sledding and screaming in the fresh, cold air
when summer came at last,
we played in the tall,
blonde weeds
next to the creek
all the houses
were built on swampland
we had lovely duck ponds
in the yard

In the years before we wanted fences
they sat out back
in their lawn chairs on the edge
of the yard, sunning themselves
my grandmother spoke only Yiddish
her grandmother understood only Greek
they talked for hours and hours
days without purpose
other than just to be

Jazz in underground clubs
and hippies from Chicago
playing folk guitar
in my polished blue living room
I waited in the wings
while Steve sang
“City of New Orleans”
my brother was alongside him
under the spotlight
I was nine
and that’s what I knew

Manicured suburbia
with movies and Niagara Falls
donuts with powder on top
and shoplifting
in shopping malls,
Buffalo,
home of the spicy Buffalo wings
we traveled in packs
venturing into basements
and haunted houses
surreptitiously playing
Spin the Bottle
with rum and coke
I don’t ever remember
liking the boys I kissed

Every summer I drove
to Fantasy Island
with my Dad
to hear Glen Campbell
sing
and see the showgirls
lift their legs
“The Sterile Honeycomb”
he wrote.
Arthur, my brother’s friend. Before
he successfully attempted suicide.
So, I knew that poets died
and that made sense to me

I read everything he wrote
and then I started writing
at fifteen, just when my brother stopped.
he moved back home from California
I thought I could not live here
because my brother left
I thought my spot was in the wings,
waiting for songwriters
to sing
I thought I could not write poetry
and survive
I knew that good poets died
and became better ones.
I write stronger now
for having died

Here, alive in the West
Or there, at that time
Snowdrifts or Western sea line
the smell and feel of summer grass
is the same
resting quietly, close to the ground
the poet is reclaimed.


COPYRIGHT 2017 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

New Year’s Day 

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By Dana Janine Diamond 


I saw Bono sing
to me
back in New Jersey
when I still had hope
for each shiny, new day
bouncing in and out of bed
in the city
perched on the windowsill
of The Plaza Hotel
I saw the snowflakes singing
to the people below
hearts fluttering down
waves rolling in
to the shores
sipping a mimosa
on the deck
trying not to show
that I was eavesdropping
on Fleetwood Mac
at the table across
those easy days in California
that only seemed easy
when poems and the sea
filled my head
when she was younger
we headed to Boca or Bal Harbor
flew kites on the beach
weighed down our pockets
with precious shells
that let us hear far
across the oceans
to Sting playing in a barn
outside of Paris
I swept that aside
as we explored abandoned
mansions in the blue Maryland hills
climbed Red Rock Canyon
in the dry, desolate desert,
ran with our dog in the fields
and around the lake
laughing, writing, smiling
and now we are stuck
in the rocky Tennessee top
the trees will have to be new
for us this year
there is nothing to see
but their dwindling leaves,
the forlorn menorah
and our memories
across the blue-gray sky.


COPYRIGHT 2017 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Palm Fronds 

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By Dana Janine Diamond

The mystical holds
no meaning for us
now
the lulav and esrog
and too many of
the species you concocted
are shaking us around
and the clouds of glory
are traveling, traveling
hard to tell
if they are pleased or
dismayed, gathering
I miss the illusion,
your protection
of knowing we could pick
up stakes and fly
and never fall
the winds picked up
and there’s no trace of 
us, the mirage of joy
all the years we danced
were a drunken lie
I held that torah up high
in my mind
from behind
the mechitzah
those temporary walls
erected around the world
for thousands of years
I wonder what would happen
if I threw the torah down
and smashed it like a wine glass
at a wedding

this is the place I come
to for refuge
words and poems
are abiding
only here my heart sings
these are my moments
of bliss and transcendence
this is why I write
them over and over again
for 40 years

the decorations
are paper thin,
I’m no longer certain
if we are sitting in
a sukkah
or an abyss
the lemons taste inexplicably sweet
I just know
we are in interludes
of pain
I can’t transcribe
all this time we
were celebrating you
I never knew
you hated us so much
I don’t know how
I’ll ever trust
again
you are breaking us
breaking away
how do we find our way…
I think America
is secretly angry
with you
I need a new
cartographer
we wandered afield,
I don’t recognize
this forsaken landscape
we’re crawling through
tree branches thrown
to the ground,
duskily hoping
ahead we’ll find a cove
or sound
to burrow into
to listen to our breathing
lift the the sky lighter
we are the Belt of Venus
hovering, taking cover
from a persistent night,
nature
is all we have left

COPYRIGHT 2016 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com