Tuesday, December 22, 2009


In this week's installment, which is being posted a bit behind schedule, I am experimenting with a common beat form known as a bop. The gist of the form is that one has three stanzas, the first and third containing six lines and the second containing eight. Much like a sonnet, haiku or tanka, each stanza busies itself with its own purpose. The first stanza introduces a question or problem, the second intensifies that problem or question, and the third seeks some sort of resolution.

In a hypertextual move, I decided to quote the famous Gemara in Berachot 55b as my first line. Lately I have been thinking a lot about the idea that you are only what you think and that when you go to olam haba you only really take with you that which you have learned, done, or thought. I think the sense of the Gemara is that a dream has no ontological meaning in or of itself, rather it is up to the interpreter to shed light on its meaning based on his or her perspective. That having been said, if the person who analyzes a dream is the dreamer, it may be impossible to rightfully understand what is going on in the dream. Our perspective is warped, influenced by the emotions which the dream may have evoked, our preconceived and often erroneous idea of self, etc. My idea in this poem was to use a jazz poetic form to convey the topsy-turvy, non sequitur sense of most dreams and using Pharoah's dream which Yosef interprets as an example of that.

I also quote the Gemara in the eighth perek of Yoma, which I have been learning at yeshiva this year, a hasidic (Ba'al Tanya) on dream as irrational and hence an illegitimate form of communication, a symbol of exile if you will, and a few other goodies from the canon. Please let me know your thoughts. Va-Yiggash should follow tomorrow if I work out the kinks sufficiently.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Winter Lights!

Dreams Follow after the Mouth

“All dreams follow after the mouth”
and sprout like foamy silt,
bubbles swelling to a constant pop
Like seven cows that burst through the Nile,
Robust, ripe as sex, blushing the
Pudic cheeks of the moon.

Exile is the ultimate dream.
Hardly gaunt like a plague,
Stumbling from rat to rat,
Flea to flea,
But the fish we remember,
Boneless, bountiful
The poison netting
Of a flowing trap.

“All dreams follow after the mouth,”
And even after two years,
This is but reed grass, beetle dung,
Seven years of plenty
Swallowed by the dead.

Pharoah awoke

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