Tallit (poem)

by Karen Maeby © 2019

You–my darling–hid the love in your eyes,
the lingering stare, that smile,
I can still see it in my dreams.
It’s really not fair you walked away.
Why’d you leave without saying goodbye?
You’ve been with me in my mind
since the day G-d should bless the world with our births
and
he split us up, so we’d learn how to love again
the way we should and deserve.

It seems, you stepped off the train….
thru this life-long journey that’s about to end
with the night stars on Shabbat Havadah.
You left memories behind:
your Jewish star,
the tallit you wrapped around my soul
as we thanked G-d over and over and over
that we came into each other’s lives
even though it was the wrong time, it was the right time
but you must’ve not thought so.
Why’d you have to go?

The songs you sang to me as we lit the candles
and we watched together–holding hands–
as the wax falls down and the candle shrinks
on Shabbat, why? You already forgot?
You lit me on fire, and you left my heart
to write poetry out of desire.
Your hugs left me very complete,
as did every given Jewish holiday we celebrated.
That was enough….for then.

Poetry (untitled for now)

i wish i could find her face in the snow
wipe the surface like a steamed mirror
call upon the midnight prayer to make her answer
the telephone that coincidentally
never shows her name or number
she’s listed under unknown. i wish i could find her.
maybe i can travel to the next city
and hire a gypsy lady with the glass ball
and she can tell me my future, my fortune
will i be lucky enough to steal her heart and soul?

i was born to two nearly in the wilderness
that couldn’t be the furthest from my life itself.
i can’t breathe thinking, wishing, for the jewish creation
that i so desire, that want so badly.
my heart cries a song into the river that
pours downstream, and into someone else’s home.
this isn’t home, not mine, no:
my heart isn’t filled with anything.
my heart is empty as a kiddush cup but
i fill it right back up with tears, and it flows over.

i study deep into each jewish book that i read:
the characters, the message
and i wish to find it all, to embrace it all, to have it
but looking for it and creating it is the challenge.
to change my entire life, to uproot everything,
it is the only way. my jewish journey way.
i close my eyes wishing she’d be the one to hug me
into infinity like my favorite blanket, or sweater.
could she be a little or all of the characters i read about?
esther, ruth, lilith, vashti, sarah, rebecca, etc. etc. etc. ?

i do not know her name, or recall it.
i see her soul, feel her emotions, too
as they run wild into the forest of a day’s life
if i found her–i would instantly make her my wife.
where’s my destiny? should i light the shabbat candles,
and fulfill my evening’s wishes of watching the sunset?
with my eyes closed, i see a table of food and
family, something which is wholeheartedly missing
i am missing the whole point of judaism
a generation passed down from person to person, blood type.

the skies are cloudy today, and it’s been raining ever since
i got here. my flight kept my mind at ease
as i was flying away from the pain only to end up
the pain is just as bad in my present as it is in the past
where i had to remain hidden, where i couldn’t speak,
where i couldn’t express, where i couldn’t dream,
where i couldn’t love, where my heart hurt the worst
because i was trapped by every single emotion
and i couldn’t escape, i couldn’t escape, towards freedom
until i finally did by writing out my plans.

by the grace of everything holy i only wish, one hug
and it’ll all go away. i wish she’d find me, but not this way.
i wish we could speak in our dreams
and through the time we’ve spent apart all of these years.
where is she? do i need to write her down?
is she truly here, within me, or in over in the next town?
do i rely on fate? on time? on giving in? throwing in the towel?
i want to express to G-d i really want her to see me,
but i just don’t know how… and, if so, will he allow
it to be the time? because i’m not the patient kind.

Journaling thoughts through the school of something plus poetry.

I have taken Shabbat for what it is this weekend..… I literally didn’t move from the bed or couch the last two days (well except run a few errands). I guess that’s what happens when you’re so mentally drained and don’t know which way to go…but now I have to shove everything that I put off into this upcoming week which will not be fun. I was supposed to go to one of the weekend Yom Tov morning services which I guess that means I absolutely have to do it next weekend. I reread my previous post: I seemed pretty fun that night. It was a good night. As far as my diet while no bread this week, I went and bought a lot of veggies and fruits (and yes, pickles, which is already almost gone…oops), so I am literally doing a diet this week from all things not that. I am taking my first Passover (food requirements) seriously. 

Since I did miss Yom Tov services, I am watching/listening to Central Synagogue’s services online right now as I’m working on this blog entry. I’ve missed watching them, I need to put them back into my weekly tradition of things I must do or I’ll go insane. I love them very much. I haven’t been able to find another synagogue to watch online that’s as amazing as them.

On a more serious level—besides playing by the rules of what foods we’re not supposed to eat for the next week—I have been thinking about what I wrote a couple of blog posts back about writing personal enslavement and writing it down so that I can work towards freeing myself. But I’ll tell you something, this is so weird, I felt a wave of freedom when I got home from our Seder. Is this how it’s supposed to feel? Is that what’s supposed to happen? It’s so strange, and I am new to all of this. 

While thinking about what I want… I’ve been thinking of Vegas again: city lights, the desert, mountain sunsets, there’s a serious growth of a Jewish community and several Kosher places. Maybe the tracks to the train? Maybe a bridge? Maybe the future? I feel like I’m having my 3rd midlife crisis. I had one at 27, 30, and now 32. Is this ever going to end? I want to change everything. I need to map out my Jewish Journey along side of what I want in my creative world and do as a job. Helping clean up after our Seder really made me think about how much I want to get into the food/catering/event business. Not sure where to start, but I need to start somewhere before I go absolutely (more) insane with what I’m doing currently. I love all things to do with events. There’s a satisfying part to setting events up and then tearing everything down, the prep and hard work that goes into it (shows). (For 6 years, I was always the set up / tear down team at school events. I completely forgot until this moment.) There are things I’m really good at, things I need to improve on, and things I have never done. I should put my focus on that list and go after my new dream…Working as a stage manager in the theatre, I have learned so much that helps with the real world. It’s amazing. I’ve been doing computer and admin work for 17 years, I feel like it’s time to move on to bigger and better things. I probably wouldn’t even be having these thoughts if it weren’t for my Jewish journey… CHEERS to that. 

On another note… as soon as I woke on Saturday, I watched the Rugrats Passover. I swear it is the best cartoon we’ll ever have on this planet. There’s so many lessons, it’s completely pure, and with it being the first cartoon to really introduce Judaism to the world, who wouldn’t think it’s the best? I will love it until I am no longer on this Earth, and when it’s time, it will be so embedded into my life that it’ll live within my soul wherever it’ll go. Oh and while we’re taking about TV, I finished My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I’ll talk about this again some other time, but wow, what an ending. This show is definitely very Jewish, and all kinds of life lesson-y sort of things that the world absolutely needs.

Random thing: I opened up my super sacred Jewish drawer nightstand to pull out a book that I wanted to read the Passover portion out of and came across a gem that I found at a yard sale. I was extremely drawn to it – an Egyptian clutch purse. It only has a very small opening almost like a larger wallet with browns and golds with images from Egypt and Pharaohs and such. I should’ve remembered to use that for the Passover service. There’s always next year. I have a Passover and Hanukkah bag now. What is it with me and themes?! 

An Ode to Yesterday 
2019 © Karen Maeby 

Part I. 

Easter bunnies and baskets, hiding plastic eggs 
with treats inside for the younger soul to find. 
Family time dedicated to decorate boiled eggs. 
with glitter and lots of color… 
only to be devoured moments later. 
An instant thought goes back to when Ralphie 
unwrapped a pink bunny suit at Christmas.  
I smile, but this was yesterday. 

Part II. 

I’m already beginning to feel like a minority, 
as I see Easter everything lined in the stores 
and absolutely nothing related to Passover. 
“Happy Easter” they say, 
and I nod saying, same to you, 
but it made me uncomfortable…. 
I wish everyone understood that not everyone 
celebrates the same thing as their neighbor. 

Part III. 

There’s a part of reverie in free: a bitterness and sweetness. 
A blank map can’t lead you to the treasure, 
you can’t find the treasure without a key. 
Is your destiny already written,  
or do you continue write it every single day? 
Like a stack of cards in the Casino: 
you play by fate, press your luck, and gamble on your journey, 
and win: it was written in the stars to be this lucky!

Part IV. 

Will I be completely free when I kiss the lips of she? 
We embrace in front of a sunset that pours out poetry, 
and we toast with wine glasses to the city lights,
and our lips—together—sing songs of honesty 
that rips the chains off, the ones that hid our identities for so long,
and we’re feeling free..free…free.. on this Passover. 
Free from our past, free from our now, and free to live our future. 
and our silhouettes become one in the name of Judaism. 

The Temporary Stay (poem)

The Temporary Stay, 2014 ©️ Karen Maeby

From the moment you are born, 
you become a constant tourist in this lifetime. 

Learning and exploring new things, 
meeting new people, visiting new sights 
while collecting memories and treasures 
along the way. 

When you develop a vocabulary 
and you learn what you like and don’t, 
your personality develops,
and you begin making a life of your own. 

You can spend your entire life 
searching for what you want, 
where you belong 
and where you call home—

but the chances are
you don’t know home until it finds you.

*

Is home within another person’s soul—a deep look into the eyes of whom you are destined to be with for all of eternity when you finally meet again after cleansing of all bad karma? Is home a place, or many places? Is home within yourself? Is home defined by the light that guides you like a gypsy around and around until you find where you belong? Is home what you define at the time until it changes? Is home something that changes just like everything else? Is home where your blood family or friends are located? Is home where you make memories? Is home where you feel pain? Is home where you lay down your head and cry? Is home where you run from, or to? Is home a city, where you lay your head, a piece of land or where you watch the sunset? Is home a particular day where you rest, or when you were born?

Did G-d create an entire smorgasbord of things in our lives so that we can question the things that we really don’t have answers for? It’s just like my theory of reincarnation and where do our souls go. I truly believe the reason scientists are finding life on other planets is because once our souls are done on Earth, they travel through certain states (planets) to be recycled to start the journey once again. Hence the reason you feel like you’ve known something or someone before, you have been there—that would be thru past lives. That’s why. 

There are so many questions to this poem that I wrote several years ago. I needed to find something that describes what I’m highly questioning at the moment, and here it is…

Is home where our bodies are, or is home where our soul is? A journey of questions that’ll probably never be answered…or at least while we are alive, then at that point, it’ll be too late and we’ll be caught in the answers of what we’ve questioned. It’s almost like poetry there. 

I’ve been thinking about all of this traveling and the definition of home, especially while reading about Passover and Egypt and the more I read into Judaism. It is the season, and definitely something G-d has placed in my mind to ponder for weeks now, and believe me, I have a thousand questions and absolutely no answers….other than feeling like quite the tourist in my own life these days. 

Love Always, Karen Maeby 

Gypsy Runs (poem)

Last night I went on my 2nd walk of the season (knowing that I should do this while I can, before the evening schedule gets too busy), and I saw the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. It was fiery red/orange with purples/pinks. I wanted to take a picture but there’s a such thing as capturing beauty with your heart, mind, soul as opposed to always ruining the moment by bringing out the tech. I can’t forget it, though. There’s a thousand sunsets I’ve seen here in Florida, and each one of them are different, and each one of them bring out different feelings…. I wish I could remember where I put the picture of a sunset that my grandma painted. It’s still on the wall in my closet at my parents. Her painting pretty much summed it up.

Gypsy runs
away from the city, away from the beach bars in town
and towards the colorful sunset
that cascades love all around….
she is thankful she’s getting to know the artist, G-d.

Gypsy runs
away from her thoughts, away from her emotions
that lie in every wave of the ocean
and every detail of colors found in that sunset….
she is thankful she’s getting to know the poet, G-d.

Gypsy runs
but she cannot hide from anything
day after day after day
every feeling she collects gets shoved inside a little bottle
that out weighs a natural scale.

Gypsy runs
and throws the bottle out to sea
hoping some Sailor or Captain will find it
and take it away for free.
This is her story, the story, that she wants you to see.

Gypsy runs
towards the light and out of Egypt with her family,
but she’s still claimed as a lost soul ~
after a Pirate hijacks her thoughts
and takes her away on board a ship heading to some strange land.

Gypsy runs
because she is still a scared little girl inside….
she writes because she feels,
she writes because she wants to heal.
and she doesn’t want to become a slave in this life.

Pharaoh’s Jewels (a sort of Passover poem)

her cold and distant repertoire has silenced my soul
it’s poetry month
she cut the words right out of my soul
and it’s poetry month
she won! it’s done!
is she happy? is she satisfied?
how about we throw a party… it’s poetry month.

[[
she’s the diamond that stole the pharaoh’s jewels!
it’s Passover
the kids are too distracted
to find the matzah, way too distracted
to concentrate and learn our story of Egypt.
they’d rather search for the pharaoh’s jewels instead.
]]

It’s annoying. I am a slave to the jewel thief.
I am over-consumed by the energy sent
through the waves of the Earth,
no matter how hard the brick wall goes up
our thoughts intertwined: we wine, and we dine at sunset
all the time, all the time.
It’s poetry month, and everything has to rhyme.

[[
the diamond in the rough smiles within,
like a trophy, she holds the jewels close to her heart.
not expecting to feel this guilty deep inside.
in time, she returns to the pyramid at midnight,
drops the jewels, and runs to a higher place…
hoping that G-d will forgive her at Rosh Hashanah.
]]

it was never supposed to be like this!
it’s poetry month
did the universe and stars plan it this way?
and it’s poetry month
she’s my diamond, and those were my jewels.
from that; she sewed the color into my life.
our silence cuts me as deep as a knife… it’s poetry month.

[Inspiration Notes/Poetry Explanation: In the 2-night prayer class at TBE, the Rabbi mentioned that Jewish text often speaks in metaphors and symbolism. Well, I have always been the Queen of Metaphors + Symbolism when it comes to writing poetry. The overall truth to this poem is trying to recover from being deeply hurt. “cut the words right out of my soul” = not being able to write poetry when it’s poetry month. A writer’s block so to speak (the brick wall), brick wall also literally meaning shutting down the soul. Diamond/Jewels represent something very important–more than the rest–that should not be taken for granted. “Hoping that G-d will forgive at Rosh Hashanah” = yes, I realize that you should ask forgiveness at Yom Kippur, but saying R/H is more symbolism for a brand new start being the new year. 3rd stanza = the hurt stays even through the beauty, also meaning: forgiveness/forgetfulness is on the mind. “sewed the color into my life” = when a person brings something to ones life that was obviously missing.]

Three (a poem)

This poem was written on 3/31/2012. It was originally written for a dedicated poetry website that had a posted theme of “nightmares”. I have had a lot of nightmares about the Holocaust and the sirens. This is just one of them picked out in poetry format.

Three, 3/31/2012 © Karen Maeby

Some say all things come in threes
“tweedle dee dee” I think so myself,
as I try to figure out the next one or two
when three isn’t here yet.
Often times, it’s something I regret
when I don’t believe all things come in three.  

Close my eyes and sing a tune
I’m in choir; we’re practicing for a big concert
“Inscriptions of Hope,” we sing
trying to nail every single note:
hit it hard! get it right! nail it!
The choir director chants at us.

Open my eyes, a cloud of smoke
and somethings on fire:
internal desire.

Lost – and looking around –
never finding what I was looking for
but never knowing what I was looking for in the beginning.
Opening every single door
to every single room.
I couldn’t find anything or anyone.

I find myself chasing a bus,
then I was suddenly in front of it
and he moved me over with the bus.

Distracted by this,
the bus driver finally stopped
to pick me up. No apologies,
just panicking about his own thing.
Panic attack number five and he was out –
in came his replacement.

Jeffrey Tambor:
was the driver, he hopped in a red corvette
and some strange men drove him away.

Dial 911 – I shiver all over my body
when I hear that particular siren:
the Holocaust.  Although, I had never been
there, it felt like I was in another time
I can’t think, I panic
and my heart drops below sea level.

Experience doesn’t mean
you’ve always got to be there,
it just means you’ve traveled through.

Singing a song
that I know all the words to –
while burying myself under the blanket
“no more dreams like this,” I exclaim.
Nightmares, definitely nightmares
and I wake up feeling the same.

What a fool, what a fool –
I am to believe that
these nightmares come true:
what to do, what do I do?
Analyze and depict the message –
only to know, I’ve been there – familiarity.  

She’s My Jewish Song (poem)

3/5/19 © Karen Maeby

fitted like a glove
she’s my king, my queen, my everything it seems

in the night, she sings me Hebrew lullabies
her voice: an angel straight from heaven
her arms wrapped tightly around me
like perfectly fitted armor for a knight

she’s the fruity pebbles and chocolate chip Hamantaschen
whichever I feel like at the time
she is by far the sweetest taste of apple and honey
that’s not just for the new year

she’s every bit of leslea newman’s stories, the ones that:
made my heart race, cheeks flush 50 shades of red,
and made me feel a million emotions at one time
all of these….down to every bit of the depths of my soul

she’s the one i’ve longed for since eternity:
like the days of mrs maisel at the catskills,
the jewish camp songs i never sang,
and being raised in a Yiddish-speaking family

she’s my Egypt:
the land I want to explore all the chances I can get
she’s my favorite time of the day: sunrise and sunset
and my favorite day of the week: Shabbat

she is the one i go to, to find my words, my inspiration,
our connection, her soul and mine..so divine

she is my jewish song

[The inspiration of this poem was brought on after finishing reading some books by my new favorite author, Leslea Newman. I loved the way she wrote her poetry and stories by using Jewish words and italicizing them (something that I did not do). My poem was written in general talking about my favorite things thus far in my journey, and of my favorite day–Shabbat–which is to welcome in the Bride during Shabbat Services. There’s something magical there to welcome your favorite day of the week, moment, or to discover something new that fits your life just perfectly. Not to mention a lot of this having to do with beliefs or connections from when I was a child finally making sense (like 1+1=2) while on this Jewish journey to discovery in my adult life. That is what this is about.]