A Gematria Poem, As It Comes to Me, for George Quasha at 70 & Myself at 80

Photo circa 1973

100 + 6 + 6 + 1 + 300 + 1 = 414 = 200 + 214 = 300 + 114


I came
& with him

watched the serpents
& the antelopes

desires
so inflamed

the pit
divines them

angry
crazed

our eyes
will bring them down

will multiply
their faces

& we will see
a light

a stone
for divination

we will bring
out of a rock

then we will take
a bone

the ends of which
like wings

or branches
blameless clear

we will scrape off
& swallow

vain like prophets
bare uncircumcised

in the imagination
only & will see

& multiply
like locusts

we will scatter
in the river

: & they saw
: & they shall see

That George Quasha has come to this point & I still ten years ahead of him is an unanticipated delight & one in need of celebration all around. It is also forty years since we joined together in constructing America a Prophecy (1973), which has now come into a rebirth & sits in front of me as I think back to our first meetings & the turbulence of working & playing together on such a multiphasic project. It was in the aftermath of that work that I came to realize that prophecy as we used it in the title was most remarkably a vision, not so much of the future, as of the present & the past – the present foremost, however soon it slips away from us. That present has stuck with us still, & however long it lasts, gives us a chance to expand what we know as mind & voice, toward what I think of now as an omnipoetics , a principle of poetry & life, that I first sensed & fought & questioned in his presence. The poem that gematria has now given me – from the letters of his name spelled out in written Yiddish – is also something that I may come to understand, if ever, not as it first emerges here but as I grapple with it in the days & years to come. The poetry, I mean to say, is in the questions, as the prophecy is also.

For which I want to thank him, as I hope to do again & then again.