Break

I take a break

On Sunday morn.

Go talk with God:

The veil is torn.

NUMBERS CHAPTER ONE

BOOK OF NUMBERS

IN BLANK VERSE

NUMBERS CHAPTER ONE

1 God spoke to Moses in the Meeting Tent

Within the Sinai Desert on the first day,

The second month, the second year that came

After the Israelites came out of Egypt.

He said: 2 “Go take a census of the whole

Community of Israelites by clans

And families, listing every man by name,

One by one. 3 You and Aaron are to number

By their divisions men in Israel

Twenty years old or more who can serve in

The army. 4 One man from each tribe, each one                  

The family head, shall help you. 5 These are names

Of men who will assist you: out of Reuben,

Elizur son of Shedeur; 6 out of

Simeon, Shelumiel son of Zur-

Ishaddai; 7 out of Judah, Nahshon, as

Amminadab’s son; 8 out of Issachar,

Nethanel son of Zuar; 9 Zebulun

Supplied Eliab son of Helon; 10 from

The sons of Joseph: out of Ephraim,

Elishama the son of Ammihud;

Out of Manasseh, Gamaliel son of

Pedahzur; 11 out of Benjamin, Abidan

The son of Gideoni; 12 out of Dan,

Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai; 13 from

Asher, Pagiel son of Ocran; 14 out

Of Gad, Eliasaph the son of Deuel;

15 From Naphtali, Ahira son of Enan.”

16 Appointed out of the community,

These men led their ancestral tribes. They led

The clans of Israel. 17 And Moses and

Aaron took all these men whose names had been

Given; 18 they called the whole community

To meet the first day of the second month.

The people stated ancestry by clans  

And families, and the men twenty years

Old or older were listed by their names,

One by one, 19 as the LORD told Moses, so

He counted them inside the Sinai Desert:

20 From Reuben the firstborn son of Israel,

His seed: Men twenty years old or more who

Could serve as army soldiers were put down

By their names, one by one, by records of

Their clans and families. 21 The number out

Of Reuben’s tribe was forty-six thousand and

Five hundred. 22 From the seed of Simeon:

All the men twenty years old or more who

Were able to be soldiers in the army

Were counted and were listed by their names,

One by one, by the records of their clans

And families. 23 The number from the tribe

Of Simeon was fifty-nine thousand

Three hundred. 24 From the seed of Gad: All men

Twenty years old or more who could serve in

The army were marked down by name, by records

Of their own clans and families. 25 The number

Out of Gad’s tribe was forty-five thousand

Six hundred fifty. 26 From the seed of Judah:

All the men twenty years old or more who

Could serve as soldiers in the army were

Listed by name by records of their clans

            And families. 27 The number from the tribe

Of Judah totaled seventy-four thousand

Six hundred. 28 From the seed of Issachar:

All the men twenty years old or more who

Could serve as soldiers in the army were

Listed by name, by records of their clans

And families. 29 The number from the tribe

Of Issachar was fifty-four thousand

Four hundred. 30 From the seed of Zebulun:

All men twenty years old or more who could

Serve in the army were put down by name,

By records of their clans and families.

31 The number from the tribe of Zebulun

Was fifty-seven thousand four hundred.

32 From Joseph’s sons: From Ephraim’s seed: All

Men twenty years old or more who were able

To serve within the army were put down

By name, according to the records of

Their clans and families. 33 The number from

Ephraim’s tribe was forty thousand and

Five hundred. 34 From Manasseh’s seed: All men

            Twenty years old or more who could serve in

            The army were put down by name, according

To records of their clans and families.

35 The number from Manasseh’s tribe was thirty-

Two thousand and two hundred. 36 From the seed

Of Benjamin: All the men twenty years

Old or more who could serve as army soldiers

Were put down by their names, by records of

Their clans and families. 37 The number from

The tribe of Benjamin was thirty-five

Thousand four hundred. 38 From the seed of Dan:

All men twenty years old or more who could

Serve in the army were put down by name,

By records of their clans and families.

39 The number from the tribe of Dan was sixty-

Two thousand seven hundred. 40 From the seed

Of Asher: All men twenty years old or

More who could serve within the army were

Listed by name, by records of their clans

And families. 41 The number from the tribe

Of Asher: forty-one thousand five hundred;

42 And from the seed of Naphtali: All men

Twenty years old or more who could serve in

The army were put down by name, according

To records of their clans and families.

43 The number from the tribe of Naphtali

Was fifty-three thousand four hundred. 44 Moses

            And Aaron and all the twelve leaders of

            Israel, each one representing his

Family, counted all these men, 45 for all

Israelites twenty years old or more who

Could serve in Israel’s own army were

Counted according to their families.

46 The total number was six hundred three

Thousand five hundred fifty. 47 But out of

Levi’s tribe, though, no families were counted

With others, 48 for the LORD had said to Moses:

49 “Do not count Levi’s tribe and leave them from

The census of the other Israelites.

50 Instead, appoint the Levites to attend

The tabernacle of the Testimony−

Its furnishings and everything belonging

To it. They are to bear the tabernacle

And all its furnishings; they shall take care

Of it and make a camp around it. 51 When

The tabernacle is to move, the Levites

Shall take it down, and when the tabernacle

Is to be set up, Levites shall do it.

Anyone else who goes near it is to

Be put to death. 52 The Israelites shall set

Their tents up by divisions, each man in

His own camp underneath his own standard, 53 but

The Levites shall set up their tents around

The tabernacle of the Testimony

So that the Lord will not be angry with

The Israelite community. The Levites

Are to care for the tabernacle of

The Testimony.” 54 And the Israelites,         

Just as the LORD told Moses, did this right.

“Set One,” Poems by Day Williams

Wake Up, Sleepyhead

Sunlight streaks across your bed
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
The rooster crows, the horse is fed,
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

On the back porch the kittens mew
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
The grasses sip the morning dew
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

Fish are swimming in the pond
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
Grandpa stretches, Grandma yawns
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

The west wind whispers in the willows
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
Take your head off your pillow
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

Barn cats scout for mice to catch
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
Put on your pants with many patches
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

~Day Williams

Jehu, Ahab, and Jezebel

Jehu drives his chariot at a furious pace,
Ahab, scared, enters the battle in disguise,
Jezebel slathers makeup on her face.
On Ahab’s battlefield an arrow flies

To Ahab’s chest–he gasps his last breaths;
Jehu calls to eunuchs on the upper floor,
“Throw the wicked woman to her death!”
Dogs consume her, as prophesied before.

The Land of Never

Have you ever been so clever
You visited the Land of Never?
“Never will I eat the foods that make me fat,
Never will I say those awful words
Like Heckedy Schmekedy drat,”
Or in a moment of practiced pique
When your bottom’s fallen in the creek:
“Never ever will I do that again,
No horse could drag me through that glen,”
Or when your friend and you
have a falling out,
A spat where you cross your arms and shout,
“That’s it, never will I be your friend!
Never! Never! Never! The End!” . . .
But
it’s not the end,
now is it?
You’ll eat the pie despite the pounds and zits,
You’ll say some awful things
Because they have a righteous ring,
You’ll take that trip to somewhere far away,
Smiling as you wipe off spray,
You’ll call your friends
And make amends,
You’ll say, “Did I say ‘Never’”?
For me that’s far too clever.
Let’s take a walk
Around the block,
Pluck a dandelion on the fly,
Pick out Orion in the sky.
Whatever we may endeavor
Let’s steer clear
Of the Land of Never.”
***

Nevada to Jerusalem

(“His word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.”–Jer. 20:9)

I.
This is a country for a holy man:
Deserts like Moses knew, Sierra snows
As white as souls wiped clean, and tourist bands
Who come to plug the emptiness in souls
By playing slot machines: in short, a land
Where Paul and Peter might have rivaled shows,
Teaching Christ crucified upon a tree,
To fill those voids with Gospel truth for free.

II.
A man of middle age cannot aspire
To a youngster’s speed, and plods along to court
To plead the cause of clients, rich and poor,
Sinners all. He’ll bring God a sad report
Unless his bones are burnt by holy fire,
And like a faithful witness he exhorts
Those who prefer to mock and toss the dice
Rather than seek a place in Paradise.

III.
Angels and demons fight an unseen war,
Hendrix replaces Bach, police patrols
Bust drunks and punks, and mourn the liquor store
And crankster’s needle, symptoms of a soul
So self-indulgent Conscience works no more,
A lethal weapon on remote control.
God calls for many, is answered by few,
And battles rage on every avenue.

IV.
When Bride and Bridegroom meet in air, foreknown,
God’s trumpet call will stun the West and East,
As he, the chosen precious cornerstone
Who built a nation of his royal priests,
Returns and claims the spotless Bride, his own,
To take her to the Lamb’s Great Wedding Feast
Prepared in heavenly Jerusalem
By him who was, and is, and is to come.

***

Ronald the Crankster

The needle slips inside the vein,
The tubing tight around
The arm, and Ronald feels a rush
That lifts him off the ground

Of the men’s bathroom stall at the hall
Where bowlers knock down pins.
The needle and the tubing go
Back in the pack. He grins

And springs out to the Reno street
To dumpster-dive and score
Once more in a parking lot
Near a casino floor.

“This is my change of lifestyle, cop,
I slam the speed and go
Outside to root in garbage, not
Like cranksters at the windows,

Listening to walls. I used to be
An alcoholic. . . . Why,
With all the tweakers round, stop me,
A long-time Reno guy?”

(1995)
***
Prayer

May God give wisdom to the leaders of the lands,
May they observe their vows and peace accords,
May men and women turn their hearts from selfishness
And serve the highest calling of the Lord.

May I pay creditors and live within my means,
May I be paid according to my worth,
May I bless others with poetic words of love
And works that fall like gentle rains on earth.

May holy leaders raise a standard clear and tall,
With righteousness to guide each citizen,
May God’s best candidates be number one in votes . . .
May this sad earth have peace, my countrymen.

***
Dewdrop

I was a dewdrop
On a green blade of grass
And I clung to that blade

All morning

Until the sun came out
And beat on me
And
I
Evaporated.
***
Blue Note

A French horn player on 32nd Street
Squeezed a note from his loins
and his guts and his heart,

Filched a note from the space
between the earth and the moon,

Caressed a note for a woman
with green eyes,

Smuggled a note from the tenements,
the smoke-filled bars
and the garbage-strewn streets,

a blue note

That soared up the skyscrapers’ bellies
And sauntered over a funeral procession
on Seventh Avenue,

a blue note

That glided over the college students
who lounged in the sun at Washington Square,
Spun round,

And drifted into the harbor,
Plunged into the ocean
and fell asleep.

(1986)

“Rainbow Melody”
By Day Williams

I Hurt My Friend

I hurt my friend

And can’t forget

My evil deeds . . .

I’m in his debt.

New York City

A prisoner who had forgotten chains,
Day wakened in another place, New York,
Discovered that his chains were tight, and fought
To free himself from demons’ teeth and nails.

Skyscrapers’ lights illuminated dusk
On Broadway, Times Square, and Fifth Avenue;
High heels of debutantes and office girls
Clicked like a Bushman’s speech; bag ladies picked
Through rubbish in a canister for cans
To peddle; taxis honked in traffic jams;
Electric billboards blinked and boasted wares;
The junkies jostled corporate lawyers’ wives
And friends who shopped at Saks Fifth Avenue
For blouses, skirts and dresses; models posed
By sculptures; traffic lights winked green and red;
The watchman for the three-card monte game
Whistled a warning to confederates;
Graffiti subway cars slid open doors,
Received the gangs, the clerks, the poets’ peers.

I Held Your Hand
I held your hand when your spirit was crushed
As though a truck had flattened your best dog;
I kept you warm during the night-time hush,
And when you entered swamps and had to slog

By roots and branches, treading carefully,
I caught you when you lost your balance, dear,
Kept you from falling in the muck to knees,
And when you made it through, I smiled and cheered.

When storms struck me and I was not so strong,
I could not see my way through fog and rain;
I stumbled like a blind man with no song
To lift his spirits from the doubt and pain,

And you dropped me like a stranger on the road
And never stopped to help me bear my load.

Last Days

The homeless in America are cold
While Senators lean back in their sleek cars;
Abusive nightmares haunt the children’s nights
As parents huddle drunk in dingy bars.

The Dollar is adored from coast to coast
While prophets are attacked (or worse) ignored;
T.V. delights in violence and sex
As its consumers stay smug, drugged and bored.

As Chastity’s regarded as a curse,
Fidelity’s assailed on every side;
With easy money couples get divorced
As if the Lord, who hates all sin, has died.

The leaders lose their sight of Christ’s tall cross
And masses stumble under weights of sins;
The Trivial is worshiped at new shrines,
And Lucifer cannot conceal his grin.

The Devil’s begging yet for sympathy,
The Devil says that those with faith are blind,
As if the Cross had not defeated him,
As if we should be praising hollow minds.

Men trample rights of widows and the poor,
Few hear the silent screams of those unborn
Who are aborted− murdered by the wolves
Who howl, “Rejoice!” when all who know should mourn.

The colleges instruct that Man is God,
As they promote Charles Darwin and Voltaire,
As Marx and Sartre, Russell and Camus,
Become the deities of campus squares.

The scientific mind is lifted high,
As if technology will solve our ills,
But it’s “advancements” of science to blame
For atom bombs and chemical plant spills.

The prophet Daniel said in the last days
Man’s knowledge will increase, and yet Saint Paul
Declared that knowledge puffs man up, and that
It’s love, which never fails, that conquers all.

For God so loved the world he gave his Son,
And an eternal life belongs to you
If you believe in Christ, the one God sent,
The Root of David who makes all things new.

The stone has rolled and Jesus is alive,
He will return as Judge of goats and sheep;
Now is the time to pray, the Day is near,
For those who labor in the Lord will reap.