Category Archives: Laughter

Thanksgiving Daze

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By Dana Janine Diamond

We tripped the light
fantastic
pain pooling at our feet
we felt the force
of a waterfall
dancing wildly
to its own beat
a rhythm we thought
was gone
is bulging out
of an angry hat
nothing sits below it
an emptiness
of the most
profound sort
we watch images reflected
in gold towers
and hyped-up billboards
captured by
rear view mirrors
as we drive through
our towns
we’ve lost our minds
and hearts,
our souls
dived off a ledge
into shallow waters ambivalent
to hold our refuse,
what has become
of our great endeavor
we are battling
an ugly history
passing for glory
this year some
of us are wide awake
others clinging tightly
to a long forgotten dream
we fight to the bitter end
or learn to begin again
I’ve spent too many
holidays in hospitals
today I’m free
yet not
as we celebrate
our gratitude
partake in a harvest repast
at last
love limps to the table
battle worn and a bit broken
from the hate spewing about
as outside a cranked up
fire hydrant
ruins adult shoes in its path
delighting kids and dogs
emitting a raucous laughter
we can’t get the same water
back in
we’ll need a wider vision
it’s so hard to sink
this low
as a people, as a nation
we left paradise long ago
and this burden feels
too heavy
but rise we must
of that I am hopefully
certain
faith takes over
when reason has left
us alone
we keel and mourn
and cry out a silent
howl
we embrace
fix our gaze on
the prophets and seers
the poets and the singers
the leaves that turn our skies aglow
even as their roots
are ever deep
it is up to us
to offer out our hands
as the homeless in the streets
a sign, a day to remember
we need each other
we need each other

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

Pearl Seed

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      By Dana Janine Diamond 

                                                                                       

I believe

God needs me

I believe

I am the smoothest pearl

the sweetest juice

the tastiest morsel

on the most Glorious tongue.

I believe

God needs me

I believe

I could be                                                                    

the lightest petal

in the daisy chain

tied up and wished upon,

garland crown scrunched on,

spritely and meadow-free,

a dandelion cradled, held

in the smoothest palm

of the most resonant hand,

puff, poof, I’m gone.

Merely a flimsy whimsy thrown

by the pebbles, to the ground,

skipped over and stepped upon                                                    

precious trinket unseen

glimmering in the sun,

I shimmy and shimmer

to find my treasure,

like so many ships

slipped out of their slip,

circling, lost at sea,

journeys bequeathed,

for one girl or woman,

just like me,

I believe

God needs.                                                                      

As an ivory cameo rests,

her features forever in repose,

perpetually calm,

we carry on.

So, about my song

should I even get started?

on the sound I make

when I give charity

the fluidity of melody

my coins are heralding

in the Heavens

oh, but would if I could

hear the trumpets, the drumbeat,

the insidious rhythm so natural

to the heart of me

would if I could hear

that I believe

God needs me

all that is around me

here in me

and I dance

ever moving, shaking

shaking, shaking

the maracas in my head

can you hear it, too?

Such bliss, the waves,                                                         

the beads, the most

perfect pearl,

prayers rising aglow

freshly dusted like snow

angels’ wings

we make, grow, sing

breathe upon the air

balloons flying off

to nowhere, colors now everywhere,

I believe

there is no telling

where you might find it                                                

in the noise, in the quiet

your essence matters

with form or without it,

your poem-song-need,

the quintessential seed,

Those Loving arms

are yours, hold on now,

you know you’ve got it.

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

Wintry Night

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By Dana Janine Diamond

Winter has stolen
life from the trees
she can only admire
the foliage from afar
the vibrant images caught
in so many pictures
hold no meaning,
the family stories
are hidden
under a fallen bed of snow
that blankets the once fertile
her hand shakes as she absently
smooths her hair
like a leaf blowing to and fro
her shy, uncertain smile
takes over
where raucous laughter
used to live
yet her hug can still offer
a firm grip
I will take my solace in
this small comfort
the intermittent moment
when she knows me
her eyes afire
I blink
it’s gone.

I long for the day
when a blank canvas, a white page
was inviting,
an enticing beginning,
not most of her mind
dark, at the end
of a long night.
I know the story
hers to tell
after she went to mikvah
on the eve of her December
wedding, surrounded
by her mother and aunts
smiling, waiting for the rushing train
to take her home
while icicles formed and froze
on her hair.
The way she told it
I felt I was there

Still, her white hair
is remarkably thick and dense,
as if there should be more
to hold onto in her mind.
It is my hair, my eyes,
my humor, my drama,
my music, my destiny?
How she loves to dance

I will walk now,
see the hills and the many trees,
caress my daughter’s hair,
she has learned to arrange
on her own,
marvel at her alacrity,
cherish her sparkling eyes,
sweet voice raised in song
eitz chaim hi lamachazikim boh,
how we love to dance
I am holding on, holding on
Floating above the trees
Floating on a sea of tears

It must be a wintry quiet
a snow globe shaken
until all disappears
yet she finds contentment
we Jewish mothers
are resilient.
Even when we take leave
of memory,
this is our legacy
we carry, we carry
even when our life
leaves our mind
and life leaves
our womb
never let go, never letting go
and your laughter, our laughter
always

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

Bobbing for Apples in Hard Times

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           by Dana Janine Diamond

I’ve had a craving

all day

for a cup of red lentil Minestrone

at the Eden Cafe

I’m immersed in Hass’s

The Apple Trees at Olema

chosen because it’s

Rosh Hashana, the new year.

My head is leaning in

taking poetry by the teeth

spooning on honey

from the sorrel tree,

to infuse, offer

succor from its redolence,

traveling through the spicy sagebrush

as I savor silky leeks, savory tomatoes, and soft sweet potatoes.

We tatterdemalion, pretty poets,

who wouldn’t want to be,

ahem…read a Poet Laureate?

I have to write

while I still have time

it’s the night

before Yom Kippur

have I awakened from our dream?

A blond-headed girl suddenly

lets out a loud, piercing sound

a unison call of the whooping crane,

startling me from my reverie,

her father glances at her,

“I’ll behave, Daddy,” she says.

I smile in complicity,

wishing to emit

letters from the arc of the ellipse

to sing us from slumber,

a parade of others

with downs syndrome, autism, special needs,

whatever we call different these days,

stream by accompanied

by guffaws, utterances, greetings

the girl and I wave,

Rebecca, I discover,

she boldly walks over, shakes

my hand and introduces herself.

“Now you know me?”

“Now you know me.”

“Now you know me!”

She exclaims with her hand on her heart.

Hope has arisen in mine,

a blessing from her pristine, holy soul.

I feel purified,

my metaphorical crumbs

swirling in the creek

for symbolic birds and swift fish to feed,

the hush of moving water

slips in between

peaceful pebbles,

tangled branches of leaves still green

hovering, these souls

marching before me

are my mikveh,

a second time in, and

tashlich revisited, revolving…

spinning sins into kindness,

these angels limping, helped along

by watchful parents, unsure aids, silver walkers,

their lopsided smiles

only only only

because the world is turned

upside down,

a dream within a dream.

An old man, stooped over,

his back curved into a hump,

is carefully washing a container

in the sink at the condiment station,

not shy, a large lime green kippa

clipped merrily atop his head,

above a twinkle in his eye,

a wild printed shirt and wide plaid pants,

cinched in with care

in contrast to his frail body,

something in his air

evokes Elijah, hints

at a hidden tzaddik;

despite his garish ensemble,

he manages to retain his dignity

as he shuffles lightly to his table,

in a honeycombed rhythm,

a kind of remembered grace

enhancing his step,

I close my book,

ready myself to leave,

resolve not to miss

my chance

in the Book of Life,

I wish him a Sweet New Year,

pause as he looks up,

no Tamerlane moment here,

he reveals his toothless grin,

responds, “You sure look beautiful tonight.”

“Why, thank you, um…what’s your name?”

“It’s Bob.”

“You’re real sexy,” he continues,

“Can we have dinner sometime?”

Shaking my head, I turn to go,

(I, who am covered head to toe)

turn again, “how old are you,

if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Old enough to know better

and young enough

not to give a damn!”

He interrupts his chortling

to add, “85!”

Ah, I see where I’m headed, Bob,

but I’m not there yet.

He reminds me a little

of my father, of blessed memory,

who would have turned ninety-three

this Yom Kippur,

what was that like for his mother, I wonder,

to be in labor, give birth, on the holiest of days…

he came to me once in a dream

he was floating in a canoe

on the stillness of the lake

tendering words of fatherly love,

in life, he talked of the future,

in death, he spoke only of the present.

And birth and death and the small

i in between,

begs the question,

are we as we seem?

I’m in love with truth,

if you can’t speak it, be it,

don’t waste my time, know

I will not forsake my birthright,

mine is a poet’s birthday, a poet’s namesake,

and tonight, the apples, an auspicious beginning.

*Written Eruv Yom Kippur 5772, October 7-8, 2011 (the week of Steve Job’s passing.)

COPYRIGHT 2011 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

 

False Imprisonment

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 by Dana Janine Diamond 

We ask for Mercy

extending forgiveness

like an old tree branch

bending toward the river,

leaves flowing by

currents confusing,

we know it’s our only  prospect

at getting to Grace.

We beg for clemency

agreeing that decency

is the salient, saving factor

in our long climb out

the chance we took

to escape from our own

little prisons,

we ran, we crawled,

we leaped, we sang,

unsure if the doors clanging

shut – would signal

our capture

or release.

At the break of day

the whispered question

“Do I regret…?”

“We’ll see…”

the non-committal response.

Breaking free

was a gambit

which didn’t work

as long as we really longed

to return

Lying awake at night

hearing the message

the echo of keys

the crush of the heart,

other sighs,

in this day,

the bar is set

just a little too wide

it’s all too effortless

to slip in and out

if I had known

how easily you would give me up

I would not have joined in

this fickle crime.

I read random books

eat tasteless food

whether it’s raining

or hot as hell

outside

I am here

remembering the sound of you,

the catch in your voice,

like the turn of the tumbler

the whoosh

of the picked lock

I am here

waiting inside.

My cells

carry the memory

of screams and howls

and mass cheers

for public tortures and executions

for bodies twisted into hideous shapes

for emaciated sticks passing for human beings

for burned homes and gassed bodies

for uniformed men torching

our place of worship, our stores,

our books.

stealing silver and jewels,

terrorizing our children and mothers,

taking our boys to drown

tearing apart families

just as easily as limbs

scattering us to the winds

and ashes.

I can smell the stench of charred skin

feel the pain of the missing layer,

the scars of sin.

There is a Jewish proverb,

“What soap is to the body,

tears are for the soul.”

Shower, shower, shower.

Oh, my G-d, I cry out to you,

you have given me a gifted life,

a life of privilege

I have always known who I am

when I was interrupted

on a busy street, on a busy, cold day,

from walking a quick pace toward my neighborhood,

wearing my grandmother’s fur coat,

over (my own) mini-dress and fishnets,

I was asked,

“Excuse me, are you Jewish?”

I came to a standstill.

Strangers rushed past

as we stood on the sidewalk,

facing each other,

no one seemed to spare us a glance,

or paused to witness

the internal commotion.

“What’s it to you?” I sassed.

“The Rebbe wants to wish you

a Happy Chanukah!”

and with that, this young rabbi,

in black hat and garb,

whisked out a black rectangular box,

with a gold tin menorah inside.

I could not and did not hide my delight.

I rushed on, looking forward

to the nights ahead

of fierce light.

How fortunate my life is,

that I am handed a tin, gold menorah,

not a tin, gold Star of David.

Yet years would pass,

‘til I would find my way home.

It’s been ages

since I first embraced You.

been loved and teased,

held peals of laughter in my palms,

been gathered up in warm arms,

if I listen to the soft persuasion

of beguiling voices,

it is my freedom

that opens the door

to this false prison.

Still, even moving sideways

lying down, hiding, writing,

talking, we stumble forward praying,

getting to Grace.

So far, my heart beats strong,

resisting beatings and broken bones,

nerve damage,

all inclement weather.

I do not give up on You,

You do not give up on me.

COPYRIGHT 2011 Dana Janine Diamond  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Her Laughter

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     by  Dana Janine Diamond 

Shabbat is half a day away and the full moon is shining brightly, directly above our window. God is smiling on us as Fall turns to winter and we are floating like the harvest colored leaf, up to the light in the sky. Her laughter is in my heart. She laughed within herself. Was this her brilliance, her modesty? We are the deep, the divide, the mystery of mysteries. And our laughter, what do You and you make of this? Is our sweeping sound our deepest truth?  An expression of our awe, humility, incredulity, the foreshadow of the pain of birth. A deep inhale in preparation for what comes next.

Our mother wants us to laugh, our mother wishes us joy before the day begins. There’s no man in the moon, silly story. It’s our mother, the gentle tug of the tides, bathing us in laughter. It’s within her and within us. So much we must keep to ourselves, we all live in secrets but this, this, this, we can share. She is sharing her moment with God, she brought the Almighty humor into the world with her laughter, and so begins the birth of joy. The cachinnation that births a nation. We celebrate, we light the light, as she foretold the parting of the waters, in her dialogue with God. The ironic, iconic, twist and we’ve come through, the bellows of her laughter echoing in our memories, the chord that ties us to her love.

Even late into the day, at the end of the night, we still hear her after all this time, this waiting. Even as the leaf leaves the tree in the lighter light, carried away in the arms of the wind, and snow readies itself to purify. Even now, it is not too late. Rejoicing waits for us. And the muse of amusement is missing us. We pine, we long to fly up to the moon. And the laughter, the laughter, the laughter is our knowledge, our deepest expression of our truest truth. And she laughed, for she understood more of God, she knew Avraham and the world a bit better. The infinite howl, the chortle, guffaw, the giggle, mirth, the peals, the glee and the great Tee Hee! The insight, this is her gift, a mother’s gift that precludes all words. So we know, once and for all, we are born in joy by the light of the moon and all the stars in the sky.

detail from The Wedding Candles by Marc Chagall, 1945

Detail of The Wedding Candles by Marc Chagall, 1945

COPYRIGHT 2011 Dana Janine Diamond  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com