Ken Seide

Spice Holder


At the close of Shabbat,
I dispense with the spice box
but not the spices,
which I hold,
and when I bless the flame
and examine my fingernails,
I see cloves scattered in my palm,
crowns on Torah letters, crowns in relief,
or a scroll of cinnamon,
a prophecy of the unfolding week
written in scents.

After I douse the candle and go out dancing,
to ensure that Jews have light and joy as in days gone by,
because asking God for joy is not enough,
I caress the cheek of my dance partner,
who will waken tomorrow,
thinking of crowned letters and wondering why,
toss her hair,
and read the aroma of prophecy
on her skin.




The urim and tummim
carried in the breastplate of the High Priest
divined the future and answered questions.

By the time we returned from Babylonia,
the urim and tummim were missing
and Ezra and Nehemiah wondered where they were.

But not me.
This smartphone in my breast pocket
is not so smart.
Like the urim and tummin,
it is worthless.
For none of them
could ever answer
what matters most.

Why did you leave?
Was it really so bad?
How can I stop thinking about you?
Is it ever worth it:
the soaring, cut short,
for the suffering without end?
You’ve released me
but how long will it be
till my day of release,
my day of relief?

© 2012



Ken Seide is the pen name of a resident of Newton, Mass. His poems have appeared in Midstream, Poetica, New Vilna Review, Voices Israel, Ibbetson Street, Muddy River Poetry Review, SN Review, Kerem, Whistling Shade, and The Deronda Review, andwill appear in Button. His short stories have appeared in Poetica, Cyclamens and Swords, and Pound of Flash.