Category Archives: Relationships

Buffalo

Standard

By Dana Janine Diamond c1993

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

Advertisements

Ready to Fall

Standard

         by Dana Janine Diamond  

imgres

One morning, I walk out my door

find the air cooler

than it was the day before,

a light, minty leaf dances

toward me, immediately

the promise of pumpkins,                                      10966526-fall-harvest-festival-decorative-vegetables-with-festive-gourds-and-colorful-squashes-with-assorted-

creamy butternut squash and sturdy gourds,

line up on the farmer’s table,

ready to be taken home,

hoping to be picked.

There was a time

I would follow this adventure,

but now I pause imperceptibly,

go about my day.

Gather the harvest

bushels of apples

Delicious, Golden, Granny Smith,    cider

sweet, sour, sliced, bitten

check for bugs or worms,

polish to a fine shine,

until we’re tucked in again

for the night

the epic cover

protecting us from a baking sun,

that was once summer.

Soon we will hear

the crunch under our feet

a sky decorated and punctuated

with a lover’s hand                                                   images

amber, maple-shaped, fiery red,

speckled light brown on pale, faded yellow,

cheerful, everlasting smile,

green becomes sage,

seemingly, suddenly,

bright orange turns to rust.

Get ready to cook,                                              imgres

your grandmother’s recipe,

or one from a book you read long ago,

but no one knows your secret.

It could be coriander seed, or cumin,

or just more thyme, and the realization

that an entrée can be served without anything hidden.

Begin again.

It seems, when asked,

why did a woman veer off her path?

(when the whole world knows

we know the directions)

The answer is loneliness.

alltishabbychic

Now that is the real curse,

is it not?

Busyness can play the charmer,

contentment and even occasional happiness

can snake its way through our lives,                          imgres

productivity and grocery shopping

can purchase complacency

for a time,

until stock has its turn

at being taken,

rather than stirred briskly.

imagesI am the esrog,

I am the Lulav, too.

Complex, complicated and mystical,

shaken and held

for very short bursts.

You bring me forth

maybe give me a kiss,

inhale my deep, provocative,

exotic scent,

caress with your eyes,

select a firm grip,                                      lulav&etrog

as if to never let me go,

as if I am so close to your heart

that a whisper is all that is needed

to beckon me nearer,

and I am there, inside you,

or did I have that turned around?

For now, seemingly suddenly,                  $(KGrHqF,!oUFDCbMNoueBQ9Zc9S5mg~~60_35

I am being sent

to all ends

of the earth.

In my travels,

I have seen your suffering,

felt your joy,

absorbed your pain,

known your love,

I am sitting in this hut

alone, ‘til finally

even the walls

around me are torn down.

collapsed-sukkah

I might survive

as a house plant

(for a time)

I might even find myself

pricked with cinnamon sticks             ETROG_HAVDALAH_NEW_WP

and retrieved from behind

the glass case,

or the drawer where you’ve stored me

to add a certain sweetness

as the candlelight holds back the

darkness,

and a family embarks on their poignant week.

Where to begin,

as I bring my offering,

I seek to understand

and I experience an existential rejection            09

with every wrong occurrence,

a broken canister, wasted food,

my child’s tears, missed opportunities

to pray, with domestic chaos

swirling around me,

a storm of anti-Semitism

raging in the streets,

I still see the colors

raining down.

why20leaves20change20color

I am lying on a bed

of drying up leaves,                                 images

caked somewhat in mud,

You’ve got me right where

You want me

readying myself

to stand up

and get clean.

And as I begin

the washing up

that inevitably follows every

holiday or excursion,

I take soap to dish,

scrub in a circular motion,              3890318312_59e4dd8729

rinsing and inspecting,

feeling the calm sense

of satisfaction return

as lemony scents

fill the air above

the kitchen sink,

and while my hands are moving,

moving, ever restless,

my mind soars

with possibilities, decisions, new ideas.

etrog

Esrog by Michoel Muchnik

Esrog by Michoel Muchnik

COPYRIGHT 2009 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Decanting Tu B’Av

Standard
Decanting Tu B’Av

by Dana Janine Diamond

images

I’d like to think of Tu B’Av

as a sacred place,

that space

in the fields

where grapes are stomped

into becoming

the song I pour

down your throat

and mine

our garments intertwined

images

so that no one is seen

as less

and everyone

becomes…

more

lovely in the light

for our hope is full

as the gleaming moon.

Our beauty cannot be stolen                                      images

nor given,

I hope you look deeply for us

in the fields

we are waving

our arms

snapping our fingers

dancing to the ageless rhythm

with our

souls outstretched

to God,

for our lovers

on this earth

hovering near the vineyards

will wrap themselves

around us

the ocean rocking,

swirling side to side                                                         imgres

in the bejeweled glass

waiting to be

lifted

held

tasted

savored

embraced.

Decanting

leaves age and sediment behind

as the sweet scents arise

we choose

to breathe.

At last,

at last

to see

our quiet longing

images

COPYRIGHT 2013 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Butter cup

Standard

               by  Dana Janine Diamond 

images

In you, sweet, elegant baby,

I pour my love,

last year’s stored up anguish,

old worries and longings,

keen delight, new hope,

in you, sweet, loyal baby,

I find a protector, sensitive,                         20130414_161748_1-1-1-1

someone to watch over

my child with me.

 

 

With you, I stand at

attention, ready to

listen, for the birds

who sing their love

song, so high, bright and clear,

for the rustle of the grass,

as some unknown something

rustles through,

swish, swish, hum, hum

to see and hear

the world, with you.                               images

Your sweet face, so soft,

creamy skin, wise ears,

you take a bite out of this earth,

you take a run at life

with prowess and grace,

free to roll in open

meadows, chew on grass,

as you meditate,

seem to levitate,

with endless patience

for hearing my baby talk,

pillow talk, and occasional,

unusual sense

of humor, you creature

of infinite beauty,             20130430_135500 (1)

sweet baby Buttercup,

who frees my heart,

comforts this Jewish mother, daughter,

fills my cup.

images

COPYRIGHT 2013 Dana Janine Diamond ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com

Wintry Night

Standard

 

                

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

False Imprisonment

Standard

 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

Unspoken

Standard

          by Dana Janine Diamond 

In our time

of rejoicing

I sit alone

waiting in the sukkah

as light touches darkness

I have no guests

they have not come

for I have no husband to entertain them.

At this feast

I partake in luxury

every spice lingering

on my tongue

not wishing to be left

alone,

alas,

the taste is wasted, waiting

to amass

the wine and grain

fallen on the wayside,

for I have no husband to tend to,

ask,

“how does this taste to you?”

I sit alone

as still as possible

strive to sense

an embrace

as distant as the stars

glimmering above the

willows of the brook,

I rest in this sukkah,

hoping you took,

the long but short way,

that you are flying even now

in a carriage of peasant descent

through the enceinte woods

led by fearless one-toed horses

the Baal Shem Tov

whispered, their quivering ears alert

gracefully persuaded to traverse

all space and time,

you arrive at last,

satchels of endless stories in tow.

So who will come

while I sojourn,

who dares to visit

the bleak, solitary hut?

The angels are floating on myrtle,

murmuring inpenetrable names,

like husks of corn,

growing side by side,

the men, they have abandoned me,

as maise to a maze

by death or wish

they pass me by,

no glass raised

or broken.

Sarah, Miriam, Devorah,

Chana, Huldah, Avigail,

and Queen Esther,

will you be my ushpizot?

Will you divine the dream for me?

I will serve as your retinue,

awaiting to begin anew.

We are bound together

like the scent of lemons

to a sweet verbena tree,

yearning to be rooted,

to withstand the coming wind,

I lift my hands to draw

circles of blessings

in to my body

feel no heat,

nor coolness of air,

barely hear

the night’s symphony song,

for I have no husband to sing to.

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