When the young man wearing a yarmulke Asks Excuse me sir are you Jewish? I want to say yes I've studied history and know Something about suffering But that's not what he means. He's trying to find ten men For a minyan At Rodef Shalom down the street And when the young man carrying a bible Asks Have you heard the Good News? I want to say Yes! The cherry trees are blossoming! And when he asks Have you been saved? I want to say Yes! I've been saved by poetry From a childhood of abuse And humiliation --That's a kind of miracleIsn't it? But I know He wants to know Whether I've accepted Jesus Into my heart and there's the rub Because my heart is so small And Jesus is so big When I walk into a cathedral My heart sings, when I walk Into a forest the trees sing And when I walk down the street The homeless man on the sidewalk Puts his whole heart into the ukulele Oh Susanna we are saved It is springtime in Pittsburgh And in America My friend Rashid is an atheist Because his mother was killed by a bomb. His father died unhappy and his sister Has moved to Australia. Rashid blames All his tragedies on religion And he may be right. We all have our tragedies And maybe God is to blame. What do I know? Well, I know this much: Anyone who has grown a garden, raised a child Or looked at the sky far from a city Knows the truth. So, yes, I'm a believer In the Big Dark, the Ur-unknown, The sense that my little mind Is part of the Big Mind I'll never know But I have to say God, like a lazy cop, Never seems to be around When you need Him Somewhere a soldier is beating a boy For throwing stones. Somewhere A priest is raping a child. Somewhere a girl in a marketplace Has a bomb strapped to her chest. My friend and her mother Were in the Tree of Life synagogue When a man who hated immigrants Pushed through the door of their faith With an automatic rifle. You know the rest. For Arlene Weiner and Philip TermanMichael Simms is the founder and editor of Vox Populi. His latest collections of poems American Ash and Nightjar are both published by Ragged Sky. Copyright 2020 Michael Simms.
Justice, Justice Shalt Thou Pursue
Marking the three-year anniversary of the day a hate-filled madman shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue "because they joined together as Jews to pray to God," Pittsburgh residents gathered outside Wednesday near a grove of trees planted to honor those lost to "remember the incredible power in being stronger together," and stronger than hate. The deadliest attack against Jews in American history, said Joe Biden, serves as a grim reminder that, "Hate never goes away, it only hides; and if we give hate oxygen, it can consume." May their memories be a blessing.