Drawing by Judith Wolfe

Richard Fein /

Four Poems



CALLING THE PROPER NAME

To behold Yahweh face to face is death
or at least blindness,
like a naked eye viewing an atomic blast.
And the true name of this lord is Mystery.
Did we christen him?
I am not among the godfearing

I envision another,
like gazing deep into a loved one's eyes,
and seeing no blinding flash but rather
only one who loves me in return.
An earned devotion, an understandable love.
The ambient light not a searing strobe,
but rather a warm, steady glow,
where no mortals need cringe before a blustering god.
With my deity one bathes in the enveloping familiar.
My god's christened name is not master, and I was never called slave.
But I know his sacred name
and shout and whisper it to give thanks or receive comfort.
My god disdains mystery.
I'd gladly lie down forever with my holy one,
on the earthen skirts of Gaea
close to moldy earth rather than aloof heaven.
A love of flesh to flesh, and spirit to spirit.
I'd sense the divine presence through the yielding press of skin.
I am among the god-loving, not the godfearing.


A BRIEF RALLY

She floated through the crowd like a paper in the wind.
The assembled were there to protest a war, or cheer the troops;
she didn't know which.
Brushed past everyone, inched up to the stage,
loitered, listened to speeches and songs.
The speeches were garbled words, but she loved the songs.
Linked hands at the scheduled time, all arm in arm, so did she.
But she linked to no one when the human chain broke.
When the crowd dwindled she swirled into the lingering groups,
but like smoke eddies they all faded away.
She stood alone when the park lights went on.
A chilly evening wind stirred the discarded leaflets.
The restless papers blew every which way.
Most landed on the wire fence,
and were pressed there by the constant wind.
None could weave through the trellis. Her dress flew up by that same wind,
but she didn't pat it down, even for modesty's sake.
She hummed and danced,
under the park lights which became ballroom chandeliers, with her arms around a shy bachelor who had asked her to dance.
Then the garbage truck honked.
The spell broken, she trudged off going
east, or west, or north, or south.


MISSING Ms MUSE

The paper is blank. Where is Ms Muse?
She must be in there somewhere.
Maybe she's having an affair with Id.
I've been feeling calm lately.
No eruptions of dark desires.
Today, I'm insipid, uninspired, boring,
in other words normal.
But I know my Muse.
We've had a thing going on and off for years.
Mostly off, but when we're on,
we're stand-up comics belting out one-liners thick and fast.
But this stand-up comic is being stood up.
The joke's on me,
the sweating, straight man alone on stage.
I must bore her. Is there someone else?
She's too bright for trysts with Mr. Id.
Besides they're incompatible;
she uses a tissue, Id picks his nose.
Maybe Madam Super Ego scared her off.
Super Ego is really my mother.
After all these years, I still put a napkin on my lap at dinner,
talk about terrorized.
No, my darling Muse is afraid of nothing.
You should hear her tell me off.
What about an affair with Mrs. S. Ego?
With my mother? A lesbian romance,
with my Republican, 1950s mother?
Sweet Muse wouldn't mind, for her anything is possible.
But mom wouldn't see beyond Eisenhower's and Billy Graham's dirty looks.
My sometimes girlfriend might be with Ego.
Ah Ego, I know him well.
A fellow of infinite jest,
intelligent, handsome, talented, suave, urbane,
a cut above everyone else. Much too good for wallflower Muse.

Poor Muse hasn't any date,
too good for he-man Id, heaven forbid with my mamma,
and too declassé for Ego.
So where is she?
Why is my paper still blank?


TWIXT TWILIGHTS

Once we came out here just before dawn to watch the sunrise,
but the beach faced west, and the hills were tall in the east.
An annoying oversight, but we were in a sunrise mood;
we could laugh at our stupidity.
The hills soon displayed a crown of reddish light, and the moon paled before the rising sun,
as the sky brightened to blue.
What we did next was obvious and natural.

But that twilight is yesterday's
for we now encounter another.
Our lives are led between twilights.
We're at the same spot,
but today we aren't laughing.
The sun is low in the west;
azure will soon turn golden red.
The beach is deserted except for us.
No one is here.
Is their desire in our eyes?
The place is right.
The time is right,
but a high tide is coming.
Saltwater creeps into every sandy furrow.
The ocean has become a many tentacled creature
grabbing the very ground beneath us.
Crabs crawl out of their burrows
clawing for remnants of the once alive.

We retreat to the higher ground,
where the sand is warm and dry.
And here, right here, at this very spot
two people we once knew
let the dawn light their bodies.
But now all possible words were spoken.
Soon it will be too dark to walk back safely.
While there's still light enough to see,
we struggle up the steep hill
without holding hands.