Jack Hirschman

Beat Thing
Beat Thing
by David Meltzer
La Alameda Press, 2004


The Sheer Arcane
         For Paul Celan and David Meltzer


So when Abulafia broke into
the tetragrammaton,
threw the house out the window
and replaced the aitches with dees
so that the new tetragrammaton read:
the deconstruction of God by poetry

And when Luria took that deep breath
of zimzum, leaving a path of light
under the tongue of the centuries
which were murdered outright
and dumped into Auschwitz pits,
the abandonment of God began Be-
ginning as not-being every instant.

That's where you come in, with your
silence of ashes and your alphabet
of human bodies in monumental agony,
an alphabet all future words and
languages must be measured by,
or be garbage (and may, in fact, when
all is said and done, be garbage, anyway).

Still, you, with the clear light of neshumah,
put your mouth where the lips within
lay in wait to be hoped alive
amid the now all-encompassing death,
the taste of it as familiar as newsprint
written in blood, from wars, squirts of
syringe and the street-corners of mouths.

You folded your hands over every thought,
let the darkness feel itself at home in you,
withdrew still more intensely -- zimzum
your shibboleth -- and made a poetry
so like Being's riddle itself, its here
and now is recognizable only by the
paths it leaves like kisses on the soul.

And in a time when suicide is a form
of brutal sacrifice under religious garb,
I think of your own, tomorrow 35 years
ago, when you entered into the Seine
because pain had gotten to the bottom
of everything you could feel or think of
with its own mystery of mysteries.

And for all the humiliation of the past
and present and with no hope left to
speak of, you needed to go to your
dead son, leaving us these questions
in the form of poems unraveling from
the cracked open nut of an abyssal
kabbala of refracted light.

You knew that when Tsvetaeva wrote
"All poets are zhidi" it wasn't Jews
she meant but "yids." You knew because
you were one of them and you'd already
been murdered and gassed and burned
a million times over for the crime of
simply being.



At this sundown moment on April 19
in a café in Paris' St. Germain district,
a woman rising to change her seat
unknowingly reveals, between her waist
and her blouse, the black-satin straps of
a bikini she's wearing under her red
rose-printed skirt.

My eyes stir there, I wish yours were
here to share that snippet of banality,
and afterward we might whisper, a bit
embarrassedly, about it, perhaps even joke,
seriously, about the myriad synecdoches
of the Shekinah, and go from there to
Heidegger or Derrida.

The way I do with David Meltzer -- who
hereafter shall be you -- another yid like
you and me, peripatetic on the tongue,
with whom I've discoursed and laughed
for decades, and seriously too, skipping
and jumping from word and idea about
anything and everything under vanity sun.

It's about bending and being bent, not
in prayer but into the flaming energies
rooted not simply in ideas pouring forth
with passional intent, but the very mystery
of the words and the letters of those ideas,
and how they keep a skin of originary
ether around us, to be looked out of.

It's about the smile under eyelids when
they close for an ecstatic instant
at the sound of nishkeit on a rainy street,
or how the homophony of Maimonides
is threaded through needle-eye puns in
Finnegans Wake to make Revolution
sit up in its coffin singing about how

the bop-bone's connected to the wolfbone
and the wolfbane's connected to the lamed
brain and the lamed vovs are marching
subversively against the fascist fangs
in the street of the mouth, up or down south,
astride in the sun to the Internationale
being sung by trees bursting with children.


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