Monday, July 24, 2017

From the Notebook of J Michel

The Farmer 

It was a temple that towered with suffering.
In the blink of an eye
I had devoted years of my life to singing
within its court,
building walls,
thinking I could spatter my tears upon the altar
and make my supplications go up in smoke.

But the nature of truth is like a bursting dam:
It is quite, but once the keystone falls
There is nothing to stop that quiet from inundating.
By the time I descended the temple’s pedestal-hill
I was fretful and saturated.

I have not put down my harp –
Though my hands are covered in earth.
I am learning the lonely patience of the farmer
who lovingly sits in moonlight,
Putting his faith in the One that pervades
the darkness of the earth,
waiting till the rains He designated so long ago
come crashing down at their appointed hour,
rending the earth asunder,

causing brilliant blooms to burst forth.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

From the Notebook of J Michel

Ellis Island
Millions of feet have trodden this ground. 
This ground
from which, in one breath, fountained forth
truth, hope, and justice
and in one word evaporated,
(mist in the harbor outside).
This ground
upon which she stood, weeping
with the innocent hysterics
only a child can produce.
Unseen. Unnoticed.
Come baby –come with me, I said,
and she clung to my skirt.
I walked through the museum,
clutching her tightly to my chest,
(she was far too small for a six-year-old)
tasting the ashes of exile,
waiting for the firm and welcoming ground of Brooklyn
under my feet again
to bring me your embrace.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

From the Notebook of J Michel


One day we will wake up and realize that that day, much anticipated, is this day. May the ineffable Name, Source of the Universe, cause us to listen into the four corners of our inward exile. Each will sit in the shade or blistering sun of his house and sing her brilliant, soulful and discordant counterpoint to the deeper tune that hums beneath every living breath. We will sing, we will listen, weeping slowly, and suddenly the distance between four corners will become a circle.

Monday, November 28, 2016

From the Notebook of J Michel

For a friend (Ashes)

You mystify me –intrigue me
because you don’t reek of past regret
yet you somehow feel
like an old friend.
I don’t know why –
I want to hug you, want constantly
to be near you and soak in
the comfort that I have missed for three years.  
And you tasted the ashes on my tongue, didn’t you –
when we stood on my stoop kissing
you did not withdraw.
I wanted to weep.
I fell into the void of sleep and woke,
feeling your arms around me
and the crystalline, unfamiliar ache of happiness.
My love, I know that blindness to the future
is the only thing that allows us to utter promises,
but still, this brightness inside me is bursting now.
My love, The War may have shattered us
but I dare now to hope
that these sharp edges will become gilded
with light that escapes.
(no longer broken, we are brutal and beautiful remains).
Maybe –just for now –
Maybe you and I fit together.
And if you can love me
then I will know that redemption

is a promise to be fulfilled.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

From the Notebook of J Michel

Wearing faces

He got on the train and sat next to me
As though I had invited him,
Wearing your hands
And your eyes.
And suddenly I was chocking
on that intoxicating mix
of horror and longing,
suffocated by the gooseflesh blooming
in rashes under my dress.
I kept my hands on my lap –
kept my lips very still,
my head from bending toward him,
praying that he could not see
my face betraying me to memory.
Careening through darkened tunnels,
beholden to the tracks relentless direction,
I wondered if I provoke  
something in unsuspecting travelers.
Would one fall at my feet in remorse?
Would someone kiss me with shinning gratitude?
Would one turn cold with recognition?
Or would there be nothing
but the silence of another day

waiting to be filled?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

From the Notebook of J Michel


Inside. Hiding from the amber heat of the summer afternoon.
Irritated by distractions,
Caught up in the perpetual shroud of loneliness.
I don’t know whom you will find tomorrow –
Lately I never do.
Unspoken words fill me with sharp edges;
the staleness of grief has become
engulfing ennui
that keeps all my clothes black as the seasons change.
I want to cry until you pull me onto your lap
(a little girl once more).
You try to extract all the broken pieces from inside me.
I don’t know why.
If you ask, I won’t refuse
to enumerate the names of the dead,
but it only serves to further separate me.
I tell myself that tomorrow
I will offer you only stillness.
Let you fish from the rubble what you may,
and in my mind I will listen
to the memory of your voice
telling me that you will always love me.