Sunday, May 13, 2007

My Life In Haiku

It’s Saturday night and I’m at Shul, waiting outside for a ride home. We are teenagers, hanging out wholesomely. We've just finished a night of ice-cream, pizza, and music in the Shul basement also called, for no obvious reason, The Gold Room. The ice-cream: chocolate and vanilla Flying Saucers. The music was provided by us: Abba, Elton John, Bob Dylan, etc. Someone Saved My Life Tonight blasted as we sat and chatted while our hormones developed. Sammy showed off Blood On The Tracks, and his knowledge of all things Dylan – both lent to him by his older sister. We stand now outside in the warm spring air and chat down until the last kid is gone. The rabbi’s daughter comments as a group of what we called Public School Kids walk by. She says whenever there’s a crowd like that she looks and wonders if Sandy X, who used to be one of us, will be there. I hold someone’s Manilow album, the one with a giant photo of his face, and put the cover in front of my head like a mask. That was the first time I heard Weekend In New England, and I’ll never be able to hear it again without remembering that night.

When will our eyes meet?
Barry Manilow once sang
Once when we were young

I was a teenager, watching TV, sitting at the edge of the bed with my brother and father in my parents’ bedroom. Maybe we were trying to fix the TV. And Leo Sayer started singing “When I Need You…” And my father, HSLABW, commented that the song reminded him of a friend in Canada who had died. That struck me.

“A heartbeat away”
Years ago my father said
That brought a friend back


One of the traditional rules of a haiku is for it to be in the moment, describing what is. Every now and then I try to be in the moment and to write a haiku while I’m there. Late this Motzai Shabbos on my way home I wrote this:

Orange and yellow
Are the cupped seats on the train
One forty fifth next


On Shabbos Rav Herschel Schachter gave an Avot shiur in the YU BM. He addressed (among many other things) the concept of love that is not dependant on one thing. He spoke about the example of appearance and how a woman’s appearance changes after child birth and in old age. He quoted that some, such as the Vilna Gaon, say that the line of Shlomo HaMelech – “Charm is false and beauty is vain, but a woman that fears G-d shall be praised” may mean that if a woman fears G-d then her charm and beauty become praiseworthy. It seems to me that the questions in this realm are vast.

Without fear of G-d
Beauty and charm are empty
What about with fear?


Sometimes doodling or writing while talking seems natural. Last Sunday evening I was chatting with a friend over tea. I was venting about needing to say things back to people who’ve said things they shouldn’t have said to me, needing to stand up for myself, etc. It wasn’t until I did some light cleaning today and came across the napkin with the scrawling on it that I vaguely remembered writing this one:

When anxious I draw
Ride up and down like a see saw
All about ideas


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a nice picture painted by your memory. I have similar memories of standing outside with friends at the end of an evening... watching for my Dad's white-and-black Dodge Dart to drive up. (We were the Bnei Akiva kids, a mix of public school and Yeshiva kids. Perhaps a mix that only occurs "out of town.")

May 14, 2007 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thanks for telling me the memory and connection this sparked. I'd love to see your piece on this memory, if you write one. That mix didn't happen in my 'hood - I think not so much in the NY area.

May 14, 2007 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Reb Seth said...

I think you should start a new blog- just devoted to Haikus- maybe call it HaikuJew.

Here, I have one about us (not a good one...but anyway):

He teaches at Frisch
I used to disrupt his class
How far we have come.

May 18, 2007 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Veg said...

Thanks for these meintzele and the haiku. I enjoy writing haiku, too, both secular and religious, finding them therapeutic.

Here's a recent one:

studying Torah
practicing my religion
never perfectly

My definition of haiku is at:

May 20, 2007 at 5:57 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Reb Seth - thanks. I don't want to do an all haiku site. I like that my site has many pieces of me. I've thought of doing a parsha site. But I think I don't want to separate any part to be it's own site.

I liked your haiku very much.

Cyber - thanks for the visit an comment. I googled it to no avail - what are meintzele?

I liked your definition of haiku. Somehow, I like to hold on to some of the so called rules anyway.

May 20, 2007 at 10:25 PM  

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