Flooding Prayers – Baruch November

From behind beards,
inside synagogues,
come flooding prayers
as men shuckle, bow, bend
to the repetition
of their pleading,
of their praise.

They ask for a wife,
kind of heart and beautiful of body—
let her overlook limited ambition.
They ask for a son— let him swerve
towards wealth and health.
Let him respect his father.
They want a daughter—
let her be the prize of delight
beyond any price of rubies.

They pray for the darkness of doubt
in their lives to be diverted.
They pray that those who hate them—
wanting to ground them down
to food for worms—
be lost and forgotten.

They hope the demons remain
in ruins they call home,
never visiting their lives.
They know demons are real;
the world has forgotten.

And suddenly a Jew might tug on his beard
reminded of another great need,
pulling down on it
as if some bell for G-d
to come and listen.

All go home,
eat their bread, fish, soup, and meat,
crumbs falling in their beards.  Once full,
they almost say for themselves,
“This could be enough.”  
But they know G-d
always wants them
to ask him
for more.

Baruch November teaches courses in literature and writing at Touro College. His recent full-length book of poetry is entitled Bar Mitzvah Dreams. His collection of poems entitled “Dry Nectars of Plenty” co-won the BigCityLit chapbook contest.

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