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Jewish Poets - Jewish Voices

PJA Students (click on the poem title to jump down to the poem)
Anna Kappler: “Memories” 
Judah Barnett: "Nostalgia
Louisa Way: "Theirs and Ours
Nico Chapin: "Rant"
Gautam Josse: "The Silence
Sunaina Arora: “Burning” 
Hannah Millkey: "How the 3 Leafed-Clover Lives"

By Anna

Holding onto memories
Of the old days
They say
No internet or cell phones
Actual conversations

They say
Holding onto memories
Of the old days
They say
You wouldn’t understand
They say
But I would understand
How I am holding onto memories of the old days
Longing and longing and
Wanting and wanting
          But no
          The old days are those memories 
          Of long long ago
          Not a day ago
          Not a week ago
          Not a year ago
          Long long ago
But how can the old days not be five minutes ago
Five minutes ago when you were talking to someone
That you wish you could see in real life

Cause they say 6 feet of distance away
But the real difference is in my heart
My heart hurts
From the distance from REAL human beings
My heart thanks the invention of internet
That every day I get to see them
But my heart longs for the day
When they say
You’re free
Fly away
And I will do that with all my heart
Soaring in the sky
Embracing the feeling of being up high
And I will say
Thank you
For reminding me who
Cause I guess I was starting to stray
From the appreciation of who?

Judah Barnett, 6th Grade

Remember how we would always go to Chicago?
Oh, how I wish we could be there. 
No parents -- just cousins and grandparents. 
The late nights watching movies, and the mornings of your choice. 
Silver-dollar pancakes, Zayde eggs, cereal, or whatever else we buy at the store. 
Remember the trips to Navy Pier, riding the Ferris wheel into the clouds? 
Or the trips to museums? 
Oh, the art and the history we saw. 
Remember our life in Corvallis? 
Half of the time, I was at my best friend's house.
And the summers, going to the library? 
Or the trips to the river, swinging over the cold, icy water? 
Oh, how I wish I could go back. 

Theirs and Ours
Louisa Way, 6th Grade

*This is a photo of a star we saw a couple of months ago, taken by my dad.  We couldn’t get a great look, because we don’t have the equipment, but I still thought it was cool that I could see what color it was, even with my naked eye. 

You know at night
When you look up at the stars
All twinkling down at you
Their fire shining bright
Whispering some forgotten language 
A million miles away?

What are they saying?

All alone out there in the abyss
Looking so small and helpless
Do they say how they’re lonely?

Or is it far to us/close for them?    

Do they say how much power they have?
Or do they think themselves small,
In comparison to the greatness beyond?
Or maybe they just say how beautiful it is?

How beautiful they are,
How beautifully the planets flow,
How even in the pitch-black, 
They see color. 
Beautiful color.      
They’re all different, you know,
Some are blue and green
Others are red and yellow.

In the city, you can’t see.
The light down here blinds you
Blinds you to the light up there
Where the fireflies dance 
In the light of the moon 
And the light of the stars
Where the light can be called
Both theirs and ours.

Rant by Nico:

How many people have prepared for a paranoid existence perched precariously on death and uncertainty. How many people have gathered with their collected comforts. Coalest in isolated ignorance, cast off, from the preachers of the precious few. We pretend to rewrite history, pretend that we are always right. We ignore the shadow around us, ignore the suffering of thousands. An illusory opinion that we are diverse, and inclusive. Yet we know, know that Fear is bred from Ignorance, Hatred is bred from fear. And violence, is bred from hatred. In short, we fear the things we do not know, the shadows. We hate the things we fear, and finally, we 

destroy the things we hate. We hide in bubbles of shared opinion, our dense teams of red and blue. When really, we are ALL human. There is a rift in our understanding, a dark chasm we refuse to recognize. We ARE united, like a bungee jumper ignoring their rope, and pretending they can fly. Though thrilling it is to thrive in the bliss of ignorance, we can not ignore that our survival is sustained by the black, the hispanics, the minorities, the hard-working undocumented. We can not ignore we live in a hypocritical hierarchy, one with no nets to catch us whence we fall. One where money is the medium of life. We say rights as if we can walk into hospitals with wounds and receive care with no pocket change to give. In fact, we can say that we are suppressing the right to learn to read, and share unique thoughts and opinions, therefore the right of Freedom of speech. We choke the ones that are not white, lynching them slowly with an undaunted racism. This breeds fear, and hatred. What we need is to learn to learn. The stories of the forgotten, to uplift those that have fallen. The few who fight for rights they have been denied. This is what we need for America. 

The Silence
By Gautam

“You may write me down in history…”
I will make history
I will rupture the dams
Break the fences
Free the prisoners
Replace the world
I will rise
I will blend in with the crowd
With only a pen and a notebook
I stand like a tree in a hurricane
I stay still
I slip out a pen and paper and begin to take notes
Pages pass by
And people begin to seem curious
I carefully close the notebook and wrap the twine to keep it shut
I view the world with my own spectacles
I look at the world carefully and examining every single detail  
Like the police at a crime scene they look for clues
I roam the world quietly
I look around for things to keep me busy 
Words tumble and grow like waves vigorously crashing on each other
With every stroke of the pencil
And mark of the eraser
Notes after notes 
A notebook after notebook 
Full of drafts and some with words that flow smoothly like butter on toast.
Some of my pieces are like tales you would read over and over before you went to bed wondering how the author thought of this. 
After lines and lines I think of the great lines I have written 
All the big words I have used 
Now isn't that great

By Sunaina

Those eyes
Such beautiful eyes
They’ve got that pain in them
Such an intense gaze
It’s impossible not to get lost in your eyes
They can suck you in
Your eyes see through mine
If you want, I’ll tell you lies
Your eyes can see straight through my soul and leave me to abandon my body 
Lost in your eyes
Such fury in those eyes
The fire of passion long gone
Those lips can’t lie
They can tell you you’re wrong
You can sing a song that can’t quite be sung
Two can’t play this game
I can tear through your heart
Burn it until I can’t 
Such beautiful skin
Those long tan limbs
Turned to ash
Your frame
Gray around the edges
Blurring into darkness
Hot silent darkness
It hadn’t been me who came running begging 
It hadn’t been me who pleaded to be heard
It hadn’t been me who chose to beat my fists at your door until they bled
It hadn’t been me who tried to make you listen
And sometimes I do wish that it had been
You can run across those fields looking for your purpose
Only to find you have none
You are meant to roam your mind forever
What can you do?
You are nothing
But you
I told you everything yet you chose to stay
Now you can’t even hear my heart tearing apart like it’s paper
There aren’t tears to fall from your eyes
There aren’t words to describe
There isn’t anything
Just waves on the shore left to sigh
Those tears that threaten to fall from your eyes
You can’t squeeze your eyes shut and hope they will go away
What appears to be hope has gone astray
Those worries that scratch at your door at night
Leaving you tossing and turning
They say, There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.
But are you light? Or are you darkness?
Is there an in between?
Is there an up or down?
Or is it just us, waiting for an answer?
All this time, what have we been searching for?
Because, no, it hasn’t been here all along

Don’t you know what I am?

How the 3 Leafed-Clover Lives
By Hannah Millkey 

This an ode to America 
A place where all are welcome 
Where all are equal 
Where all are 
Not yet 
Not yet can the birds sing songs without a fear of tears
Not yet can anyone cry and be answered
We live in a world so worth living for 
And yet so worth hiding for at the exact same
But we are american and no one has to know that
We are white men who can speak and not be questioned 
We are women who can 
Who can 
Who can sit still and be looked upon 
Because that is what we were meant for
We were meant for no labor other than the one where you were created 
The one where we bring a new chance into the world thinking maybe 
Maybe your generation is the one that will see a world where 
He was once a she but that doesn’t matter
Where he loved him and she loved her and that was accepted 
Where the air is free and clean
Where she can be just the same as him
Where she can love herself and not be seen as vain
But not yet 
Not until the white man sitting at his throne in a big white house is gone
Not until people start to care 
I want to be able to bring my own little chance into the world and say 
Your safe here
You can be your own person 
I want to be able to scream my own lyrics to a song that I wrote and say 
The world where i grew up is different then the one i see to day 
I want to be able to scream 
America you cheated me and im taking it back
America you lock them out and screamed the worst of words to people that might have been my friend and you didn’t even say sorry like you said you would
Like you said you would apologize for innocence that got locked up in bars from money 
I want to be able to have a gun with no use 
And know that i have that right
To feel my emotions
Because my dad told me 
Child you’ve always been the one who feels emotions deep in you roots and that's ok
That anger is the emotion to feel when you know something isn't right and that's right
But not yet 
Not yet when such important business is at hand
like building a walls
Shoving the unknown out for it to barely survive in its small attic corner
Making sure that others are suffering out on the border waiting for what won't come
Waiting to feel the wind fly through their hair only to find that they are more sunk then ever
Us citizens come last
Is this what you wanted?
Did you want to drive misery to unruly highs 
America check yourself we say
You have built 
A place where all are welcome when you’ve locked people out out of shear selfishness
Where all white men are equal and where all minorities are running like mice away from traps cause we’ve all experienced one
America you are no longer the cleaner of messes because you are one 
America you have become an extermenter of us 
the U.S.A is no longer united 
And you 
You can expect us to stand and and put a hand over our hearts and sing about lies
Sing about a land where all are free 
And all are brave 
When the only place we can see that land is in our dreams 
And even sometimes those stick with the stench of your songs 
of Not yet