Literary Musings ~ בדיוני ~ שירים

Here is a safe space in which to share pieces of writing, poems, journal thoughts, etc. Where each of us can express ourselves creatively without internal or external judgment.

by Alice Schultze

I grieve
For the burning bush that never was,
The sea that never parted,
The wilderness through which for forty years
My people did
Not wander.

I believed these stories,
I believed.

They lifted me up,
Held me with

Despite lack of proof,
In our stories there is Truth
That God’s hand was there,

That God’s hand is here,

With us
In our heartbeats,
Our prayers.

A Survivor’s Recollection; A Railcar’s Introduction
by Howard Gershkowitz                                                          Railcar

A cattle car sits on a flatbed trailer,
stairs and lights and silence.
Rotting wood constrained by rusting iron;
a darkness undisturbed
by rays through withered slats.

I heard the black boots on cement, the knocking at the door.
Soldiers, grim and serious, surrounded our house.
“Hurry, Hurry,” Mama said.
We filled a suitcase so inadequate
to carry all our past;
a Bible, a picture; Grandpa’s diary.
“But Mama…”
“Hush, child.”
We joined the sullen march.

Beside a church full of Saturday’s Mass,
trees greened themselves outside.
Parishioners sat in comfortable pews
as the Pastor prayed for life, for peace; a sermon on diversity.
Afterwards a table filled with cakes and fruits,
coffee, tea and soda.

We were 80 in a space for 20, the suitcase left behind.
“Keep together” Papa said, holding Sister’s hand.
The doors slid shut, the air grew stale;
There was no room to sit.
A bucket held the meager rations;
soon empty, it held our waste.

A line of curiosity ascended
to tour German engineering;
greeted by decaying walls and roof, the floorboards creak beneath.
A fading handprint’s all that’s left
of one child’s final journey.

On a platform, amidst the mud and filth,
we exited the train.
“Keep together” brother said.
I saw the shiny boots, black and tall and spotless
as we came to the head of the line.
He smiled below his perfect cap; he pointed with his rod.

The conversations quieted inside the stifling car.
No words or sermons touched their lips;
just heads that bowed, smiles that faded, tears that fell.
Not one that day emerged
the same way that they entered.

“Mother! Father! Wait! Come back!”
They took them all away,
into the inferno.
I alone at age 16,
from camp to camp to camp.

“We call her Hannah; she’s a cattle car, and she’s innocent.
Pressed into service to a madman,
she carried so many to their deaths.
She’s part of our family now; we’ve adopted her.
We are her custodian; she is our teacher;
Come – listen to her stories…”

by Alice Schultze

All of us were there, though
We were not there.

To death without mercy,
Without pity,
Sweetness of a Friday turned
Into blood.

And where is love, and
Where is hope,
And where are words
To pray?

A Leaf
by Howard Gershkowitz

A single leaf
sits atop the dirt
beneath a pine tree.
It doesn’t belong to this tree,
blown here from some neighboring forest,
it’s traveled on the wind
coming to rest in unfamiliar territory.

It is not afraid.
No longer attached to its nurturing branch,
its days are numbered.
From youthful green, it now displays
its orange fire crispness to the world.
After its colorful moment in the light,
its crumbling dust will mingle once more
with the sky.

Forest to forest,
green to orange to dust.
Such is the life of a leaf.
Such are we.
A Fine Summer’s Day
by Howard Gershkowitz

There’s a new green on the pine trees,
a renewal of an ancient vow.
It isn’t there to replace the old
or threaten what has come before.
It’s the promise of a new summer’s day,
a lengthening, a strengthening
of everything true and worthwhile.

And so, on this day of sun and rebirth
the clouds respected the sky
and let the blue smile through
upon an arch, a prayer, a glass of wine;
a tov full of mazel.
And so it was, this fine summer’s day
that our son took a bride.

by Alice Schultze

Two stories happened on my path this week – and I say ‘on my path’ and not ‘crossed my path’ because of the near certainty that they were placed where they were so that I had no choice but to stop and take notice and reflect. And, yes, I have thought and reflected but have come to no conclusions.

Lives are involved. Are these stories random or is there a connection? I don’t know.

You tell me.

The first story came as a sign. Not a miracle sort of sign but a notice, a typewritten posting on a sheet of 8 ½ by 11 inch white paper taped up near each of the cluster mailboxes in my community. “Please adopt my two boys ages two and one,” the sign read. “They are good looking boys, brothers, and must stay together. Please help me as soon as possible. I am desperate.” What mother would? And why? Why? Why not call foster care and was there the fear of danger, and why…?

The following day the signs were gone.

The second story came with grace. I needed to have the wildly growing bougainvillea and ficus and palm in my courtyard cut back. Through the tangle of leaves and fronds, when had I last seen the sky? Thinking these thoughts I noticed a slow moving landscaping truck, stopped them, and asked if they could help. Well, yes, as a matter of fact they could and they could come right now. The truck pulled in front of my house and an entire family tumbled out! Two fathers, two mothers, two pre-teen boys, the boys bi-lingual and translating for their dads, and everyone laughing and happy! Their work was perfect. Their joy was beautiful. You would have thought they were at a family picnic, all happiness and smiles.

Oh, blessings all around! Are the signs and the grace separate or are they one? And what love – it must be ‘love’ – is being revealed?

Making it to Shabbat
by Susan Schanerman

Not Enough TimeIn a fog, in a bog
sleeping deathlike as a log
I am drifting with a purpose I don’t know

eyes are blurry, vision’s furry
always racing in a hurry
and with sometimes little left to show

speaking fast, sailing past
typing out an email blast
as the light turns green and I must once more go

changing lanes, aches and pains
trying hard to pull in reins
jumping high to keep my soul from falling low

then Shabbat, east my lot
time to think of what I’ve got
and rejoice that now I finally can slow

light the lights, challah bites
lovely customs, treasured rites
as I feel my soul reflect the Sabbath glow.

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