awake Yeshurun!

by Daniel Abelman
conjunction
Second Place, July 2013
Judged by Robert Sward


where the heat-maze meanders and fossils
cobble the fata morgana between
wadis beyond Yeshurun’s hills – the cave

of the hidden Lion, whose shimmering
Crown-Keter of ten butterflies trace gold
sphirot, and entrance in he(i)lical rings

Yeshurun braids secrets in Lion’s mane,
blessing the clouds for the month of Tishrei
talks to butterflies about This-and-That
and Ams-what-they-Am and of Other-Things

and the mountain clouds of Heshvan coil in
bind the above-waters with those below
and the full moon scurries, cloaks her beacon

behind the bleak shrouds of low Kislev sky.
Yeshurun kindles an olive-oil lamp
from Ararat’s sprig pressed in a dove’s beak

come the month of Tevet, four, see the glow
skirt the maze to the cave; dodge butterflies
while emanating slipknots through a mane

as Lion rumbles, and roars echoes of
creation from his maw. Sinai horn-blasts
fan whirl-fire chariot wheels, teamed to
Jacob’s ladder and Yeshurun’s reverie.

from the cave – that jaw – three emerge. one is
deranged; one realizes This-and-That
and Ams-what-they-Am and Other-Things; one
is changed. the fourth remains devoured by awe

midnight, the hidden Lion unlaces his
macrame’ed mane with a purr; Yeshurun
rests on a proffered paw dreams to flutters
of a butterfly snore. of Hermon’s springs;
of Shvat, when feral almonds blossom pink


It would have been helpful for the poet to have included an epigraph that somehow identifies Yeshurun (sorry, this reader should know who Yeshurun is, but... in fact, he needs a little help.

Still, the poet communicates well his (or her!) love for language, for the "sound," for the sheer delight in the English language. There's more than a hint of Coleridge and the old Testament and, to my ear, Romantic poetry and the Book of Revelations.

But it's a send-up, I believe, and yet one is drawn in, drawn in in spite of oneself to the lushness, the mystery, the humor ("the This-and-That-and Ams-what they-Am and Other things." There' s something of the comic in this and that doesn't especially detract from the whole "Romantic poet quality.

And the poet's speaking of "butterfly snore." I confess, I haven't heard that expression before. Nor "feral almonds blossom pink." Feral almonds? Blossom pink? Go for it, my friend! --Robert Sward

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