February 22, 2015

Being and time

In Hebrew, unlike English, you face the past: the future lies at your back, like the rower on a boat or half the travelers on a train. But these languages lead us astray, for the past is as distant as the future, and the human soul (at present) homebound and myopic.

February 22, 2015

Why do we feed the sparrow and fight the squirrel? — Because we mammals cannot fly or because birds have two feet, too?

February 21, 2015

The fickle mountain

When Master Chuang was young, he fluttered back and forth on every decision, exhausting himself. One day, after mounting frustration at his own fickleness, he sat pouting by the roadside as a portly old monk passed by.
— Why are you crying, child, asked the expansive holy man.
— I am a butterfly in the wind. The minute i want something, i begin to want something else, replied the sad, precocious child.
The monk plopped his massive frame on a nearby rock and thought in silence for a good long while.
— You must pray to the God of Stubbornness, he finally declared, and waddled away.
Young Master Chuang had never heard of such a silly god, but wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so on the spot he began pestering the makeshift deity for just a little more stubbornness. Lo and behold, the butterfly was soon pinned down! In time it completely petrified, then morphed into a stone, a hill, and finally became an infinitely large mountain. Even now old Master Chuang will say a little prayer on windy mornings, lest he forget to be stubborn that day.

January 31, 2015

The window pane

J’entendais, oiseau,
mais n’écoutais pas;
tu t’envolas.

[I could hear you, dear bird,
but wasn’t listening;
so you took off.]

[I’d heard the crows cawing, perhaps for hours, as they wintered on a neighbor’s tree, but only noticed when, passing a window, i saw their harsh tones blacken the sky and vanish.]

January 22, 2015


Must i beg you into existence?
Have you vanished out of spite?
Or do you still relish sacrifice,
insist on a bit of faith? Perhaps
you are deaf, or gone to pee.
Here i lay dying, and you taunt
me—with silence!

Do not presume to know me:
I am not the god of your fathers,
nor will i trade life for faith.
I will save you,
and shatter your existence;
I will grant you joy and peace,
by destroying your mind.
I am the god you crave
but cannot bear; for now
I will kill you, kindly, and transform you,
and be.

January 14, 2015

The huckster’s psalm

If faith could create
just enough god to save me —
would you lend me that faith,
friend, before i create…?

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January 11, 2015

A psalm of existential commerce

Just lend me joy enough
to live another day;
i will then repay
you, old friend, with life.

January 2, 2015

If God is a fulcrum outside of the self (though perhaps not the mind), then prayers might in fact just be levers of the Archimedean kind. (Please forgive the antiquating rhyme.)

December 29, 2014

Do not dismiss the miraculous powers of olden gods; for such beings never existed, and yet those who believed in them were still transformed.

November 22, 2014

La future monnaie

Perhaps, when Elijah returns as promised, he will stand outside our stores with a handful of pebbles and pay us to buy nothing. When we object that a pebble is worthless, he might answer: “I brought them from the future. Each one will buy you a little bit of time.” Would that be just enough to save us?


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