GH (5 3 38 / leipzig)

In The Beginning

In the beginning, God created
heavens, earth, as clearly stated
in the lines, the very first,
of the bible, here rehearsed.

First the earth was merely void,
wilderness and asteroid,
till God said: “Let there be light! ”
Einstein clearly in His sight.
God saw light was very good,
as, like Him, we clearly should.
All the light God separated
from the darkness which was fated
each day to become the night,
day beginning with the light.
In the first day’s great aborning,
after evening and morning,
God said: “I am having fun!
That is all now for day one.”

Did the day start with the night,
as most Jewish scholars write,
or only start at early dawn?
Scholars heaped a lot of scorn
on the man who claimed that’s so,
Rashbam, as you ought to know.
His writings, some say, were suppressed,
though his readings were the best;
his grandpa whom we know as Rashi
might have thought him somewhat flashy,
and certainly most uppity,
a lemon in a cuppa tea.
It’s very wrong to contradict
your Grandpa, though he isn’t strict,
and there’s lots that he’s forgotten.
To an old man don’t be rotten;
In the Holy Code it’s writ,
nineteen thirty-two Levit:
“For your Grandpa you must stand! ”
If you cannot understand
his words, you have to hold your tongue––
from his ancient loins you’ve sprung.

On the second day God made
the firmament whose colors fade
at dusk, until again at dawn
the ruby is restored, reborn;
rosy-fingered, says the poet––
that’s the way God loves to show it.
He made the waters in the sky,
and beneath it waters lie,
with the name of firmament
He provided, heaven sent.
When day ended, it was reckoned
of all days to be the second.

On the third day God collected
all the waters, and selected
dry land where there was no water.
There the grasses found their quarter,
flowers too, in great profusion,
not an optical illusion,
scattered in great rows and rows,
tulips, daffodils, and rose,
rhododendrons and azaleas.
All were fertile, none were failures,
even orchids that exotic
bloomed in ways that seem erotic.
(Insects none to pollinate;
for day five you have to wait.
That’s when God made birds and bees––
pollen does not make them sneeze,
but they carry it around,
helping flowers to abound.)

Fruit trees, too, of every kind,
every species you can find.
For the birds a lot of berries,
for the humans luscious cherries,
apples, oranges and peaches,
coconuts that grow on beaches,
plums, and apricots and mangoes,
sweet as kisses shared in tangos,
lemons, tangerines and limes
and oranges that have no rhymes,
cashews, walnuts, and pecans,
macadamias, not in cans,
but fresh off the trees, delicious,
from Antipodes, auspicious.
Peanuts, too, which are synergic
with good beer––if you’re allergic
you may need adrenalin
should a peanut be within
salad, chocolate or a cake
and you eat it by mistake,
or you kiss allergic persons.
Allergy to peanuts worsens
conditions of a man who kisses
peanut eaters like his missus.
Strawberries also make some flash
with a histaminic rash.
God declared this day was good––
most fruit are very healthy food.
Once He’d said this happy word,
end came to this day, the third.

Next God lit up all the sky
with bright bodies: here is why.
One was big and one was small,
then the smallest of them all,
stars, once sun had been created,
and the moon that’s second rated.
(I must add a little wrinkle.
Stars aren’t small, although they twinkle.
Actually they are gigantic,
detail that appears pedantic,
but is really most important.
Truth is, we appear foreshortened
in the eyes of God, whose goals
are obscurer than black holes.
Less than dust, to Him, and not
great stars, parked on God’s parking lot,
awaiting to be towed away,
dry as dust or wet as clay.)
Sun gives every day its light,
moon shines often in the night,
though it does not condescend
when a month comes to its end
to appear, and we depend
on the starlight as our friend.
Stars, the midrash says, broke off
from the moon: please do not scoff.
Challenged astronomically,
rabbis’ thoughts were often free
as some verses poets write
when they can’t get rhyming right.
Though the sun goes back and forth,
it won’t show up in the north;
rising in the east, its rest
takes place always in the west.
Day’s end, God declared: “Henceforth
more stars than this day, the fourth,
will be formed.” All spheres that sang
were formed well after that Big Bang
with which our universe began,
if physicists can read the plan
God followed; this cosmology
does not call for apology
except if your theology
is biblical mythology.
Heaven knows how stars evolved;
though the problem’s unresolved,
science draws us ever closer
to the singing spheres’ composer.
Though God made stars on day four,
it’s likely He is planning more,
for each days some stars are swallowed,
by black holes in which they’re hollowed;
equilibrium requires
every day new stellar fires.

On day five the Lord declared
creatures that can make you scared,
alligators, crocodiles,
tears as false as gaping smiles,
dolphins, manatees and orcas,
great white whales, the future stalkers
of a Captain in a novel
who to whales would never grovel,
sharks with such enormous jaws
Spielberg films them with applause,
and the great leviathan.
I would swim a marathon
to escape from such a giant––
don’t expect he’d be compliant.
He would munch me like kabobs,
so at least says Thomas Hobbes.
Also on that day there swarmed,
in the water where they formed,
creatures which all love to teem,
fish, including carp and bream,
salmon jumping in the rivers,
not yet smoked or sliced in slivers,
tuna, halibut and sole,
herrings, swimming in a shoal––
eaten Shabbos every kiddush,
and as kippers if you’re British––
lobsters, mussels, crayfish, crabs,
squid they study in some labs.
Some are kosher, some are not;
scales and fins will tell you what
Jews may eat, though many crimp
nowadays if there’s no shrimp
in their cocktail or their salad,
thinking Torah laws invalid.
(I am talking of Reform:
shrimp de rigueur and the norm;
Conservative and Orthodox
stick to whitefish and to lox,
which with cream cheese on a bagel
make a synthesis like Hegel.)
Goldfish too, and lots of kois
God Himself, I’ve heard enjoys
His own ornamental pond––
goldfish bowl of which He’s fond,
paradigm for one we live in,
in this world––it is a given.

Sailing on the air with feather,
even in inclement weather,
high into the sky there soar
cousins of the dinosaur,
myriads of flying birds,
all addressed by God with words
telling them to multiply.
Some can do this when they fly,
others wait until they’re grounded,
laying mostly eggs well-rounded.
(Those that aren’t both round and oval
have the rabbis’ disapproval.)
Some of them will build a nest,
others find to steal is best.
When you hear a cuckoo sing
think of criminals, not spring.
When you see a greedy vulture,
don’t reach for your gun, its culture,
consuming corpses on the ground,
is ecologically most sound.
Pity penguins who can’t fly
underneath the southern sky;
in Antarctica they waddle,
like tuxedoed runway model.
Wait, and you may see a dodo,
not yet as extinct as Godot.
All these creatures came alive
on spectacular day five.

On the sixth day God made all
creatures, whether large or small,
on the dryness of the land,
prairie, mountain and soft sand:
cats and dogs we love to pet,
lacking toilet etiquette,
bison, antelope and deer,
predators all at their rear,
tigers, lions, kings of beasts,
with the jackals join the feast,
and the fleet-foot jaguar,
not yet turned to motor car.
Once the predators have killed,
and their appetites are filled
jackals who just love to lick
blood congealed can have their pick.
When the air is cool and balmy
in the streams hippopotami
washed their skin with mud that’s glorious
(mothers, if they don’t, censorious) .
Lizards and chameleons, newts,
pandas eating bamboo shoots,
tortoises that race with hares,
salmon swallowed by the bears,
and, with long necks, tall giraffes
eating leaves while milking calves.
While the milk from nipples splutters.
kids and lambs go to the udders,
like the babies of the camel,
happy that mamma’s a mammal.
Strictly Torah laws forbid
eating meat such as a kid
when it’s boiled in mother’s milk––
Jews who’re kosher may use Silk.
Never eat meat with the blood.
Only chewers of the cud,
when they’re cloven in their hoofs,
Torah in its laws approves:
There is little you can say for
others, since they all are treifa,
well below the kosher curve,
which is why Jews may not serve
meat from camel, pig or horse
as hors d’oeuvres or entrée course.
Some beasts have become extinct,
but to mankind may be linked
by a process Darwin thought
humans to this planet brought,
for example ancient primates
living in quite different climates
to the ones we now endure.
From the apes we are descended,
Darwin said. Some were offended––
apes, I mean of course, for they
when seeing men must feel dismay.
Men aren’t likely to be pillars
of society; gorillas
in many ways are far superior,
despite appearances exterior.
Men put felons into cages:
apes have been inside for ages.
What will happen when apes choose
to put mankind inside their zoos?
Was Darwin right? I am not sure.
Can a human feel secure
knowing that he has descended
from an ape? I’d be offended
as an ape who claims ascent
from the humans who dissent.
Talk of ancient hominid
fundamentalists forbid.
Though I’m no creationist––
I’m a word inflationist––
I will now sit on the fence
so as not to give offense
to the bible Author who
shared this most simplistic view.

After making many creatures
With their animal-like features,
God said: “Time to make a man
in My image, if I can.”
Angels thought perhaps He shouldn’t,
but it’s obvious He wouldn’t
pay attention to these minions
who inhabit His dominions.
Doesn’t need them for advice,
but enjoys to hear them thrice,
singing: “Holy, holy, holy! ”
very, very, very slowly.
“If I can’t, ” He said, “too bad,
I won’t let that drive Me mad.
Man should multiply like birds
and the fishes.” Selfsame words
Previously He’d said, day five,
to the birds that came alive,
and the fish that in the water
swarmed, though blessing was far shorter
when He spoke to them, for now
He stated that He would allow
Man to rule all forms of life.
Was He thinking of Man’s wife?
The Fifth is what I once again
now choose to take. I don’t think men
or women should each other rule;
give-and-take is far more cool.
Clearly God had made this point
when to First Man He had joined
Woman, so that man was bi––
Bible says this, not just I.

Once God ended His day six,
there was nothing left to fix;
no more need for coffee breaks
in between the daily takes.
The world, to His all-seeing eyes
lacked any untoward surprise,
since there had not been any sinning
the first week of the world’s beginning,
and so He said, with great elation,
having finished His creation,
“It is very good, ” and rested.
Next day, Sabbath, Man digested
all the food that was the fare
his new Wife said she’d prepare,
just before the Serpent raptor
spoiled things in the second chapter.

I’ve now finished all my writin’:
if you want some more, hear Haydn.

Ad maiorem dei gloriam.


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Comments (1)

This is really a wonderful poem, Gershon. Your metaphor in the final stanza is superb. Raynette