To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
.......................................again
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gematria (3) :"In the Shadow"


A GEMATRIA FOR JACKSON MAC LOW

Chance

made it happen.

Chance = 310.

Gematria – a form of traditional Jewish numerology – plays off the fact that every letter of the Hebrew alphabet is also a number, and that words or phrases the sums of whose letters are equal are at some level meaningfully connected. In the course of compiling A Big Jewish Book, I came across a number of traditional combinations of words associated (usually in pairs) through gematria, and I juxtaposed one of the words with the other so as to form miniature poems. A few years later I came across Gutman G. Locks’s The Spice of Torah – Gematria, which offers easy access to the numerical value of every word in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. With its more than three hundred pages of Hebrew word lists translated into English words and phrases, I began to construct new poems based on combinations that I discovered or that I calculated on my own. Unlike the traditionalists of gematria, I have seen these coincidences / synchronicities not as hermeneutic substantiations for religious and ethical doctrines, but as an entry into the kinds of correspondences / constellations that have been central to modernist and “post”modernist poetry experiments over the last century and a half. I have proceeded in these works in several different ways: by using one word or word-phrase as title and others (numerically equivalent) as poem; by using the gematria number as a title and constructing poems of single lines and/or stanzas of two or several lines that fall under or add up to that number; and occasionally by using a freer selection of words brought to my attention by gematria, but combining and adding to them with considerably more freedom of choice. To the degree that all such works are substantially aleatory, they are full of surprises that have added greatly to my own excitement in the act of writing.

FOURTH GEMATRIA
“In the Shadow”

Without God

Without terror.

____________

Gematria 372

Seven.
Plenty.
A Week.

_____________

My Heart (1)

Flaming.

My Heart (2)

Blood.

_____________

The Sign

I see
a word / spoken.

____________

In the Shadow (1)

A womb
he devours.

In the Shadow (2)

I am
nothing.

____________

Testimony
for Charles Reznikoff

The light.
The terror.

____________

Burning

Your beautiful
mind.

Dead
at the entry.

____________

A Fountain (1)

An eye.


A Fountain (2)

Shall I hide?

____________

A Window

Wherein
& forward.

____________


Colors (1)

Yellow
stars

Colors (2)

His red
throne.

____________


The Candlestick / The Fire

The yellow
Baal
eats
like a god.

____________

A Vision (1)

Beat it with power..


A Vision (2)

God
is crushed.

____________

You

& a double.

____________

The City

Broken.

.

Void.

____________

Flesh (1)

An ark
& a worm.

Flesh (2)

Before
& bitter.

____________

The Rock

fell.

____________


A Curse

Your father
shall live.

____________


A Cloud (1)

In wood.

A Cloud (2)

Forever.

____________

All

or enough.

____________


Cities, Cities

Silver
& speckled.

A tree
fallen down.

____________

My country
a fire

.

Divided.

____________

The Voice (1)

will answer.

The Voice (2)

A voice.

[Originally published in J.R., Gematria, Sun & Moon Press (1993) & scheduled for republication in a revised edition, Gematria Complete, by Marick Press in Michigan.]

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Julie
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