Tag Archives: Judaism

Prayers for a Queen to step out of her shadow


By Dana Janine Diamond

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
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
but we rise
by uttering, recognizing,
our blessings
praising gratitude
and abundant, unending love.

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


Ready to Fall


         by Dana Janine Diamond  


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


Esrog by Michoel Muchnik

Esrog by Michoel Muchnik

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

Bobbing for Apples in Hard Times


           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


 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


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



          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



the taste is wasted, waiting

to amass

the wine and grain

fallen on the wayside,

for I have no husband to tend to,


“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

Her Laughter


     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

After the Snow


by Dana Janine Diamond  

We are dazzled

gazing up

we see You

in the light falling

if we look hard

we see Your gentle

wonder, bursts of Glory,

we are angels

for a time

and when it melts

all the pain and sorrow

with a burning star

we will find

the jewels

waiting to be shown


We trudge, we push,

we lead the sled down

and up again

but You,

You bring the hill

before us,

You cover us

with light

so that it permeates

the center

of our being

so that our breast

is no longer weary

so that our skin glows

with mother’s milk

and honey, Your gift to us.

After the snow,

we remember

if we’re clever,

the manna

melting stars on our tongue

snow like breast milk in song

copper mirrors dancing

drifts of undulating deserts

shtetl mothers milking

praise waiting

to be uttered.

~ written with Ronit’s recovery in mind.

COPYRIGHT 2012 Dana Janine Diamond  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See Copyright Notice pertaining to thejewishpoetess.wordpress.com