Have Strength | Honey Novick

Yellow and Blue then Green

blue on one end of the scale
yellow at the opposite end
a kind of magnetic needle in between

blue, a feeling of down or calm
yellow feels up, vibrant, bright
somewhere in the middle, green
in the middle, they meld and transform
yellow and blue become green
three for the price of two

this gauge is invisible, yet lives within
it is carried eternally
it is the human tachometer
a reminder that nothing stays the same
everything can change
it can go from blue to yellow to green
unaware of its change
remarkable in being seen

@2022 Joao Reguengos

When the World is on Fire

When the world is on fire 
do you close your eyes?  Ignore it?
Do you?

Fuelled by racial discrimination
this conflagration
is a spirit abomination
this IS my nation
home of my education
playground of my indoctrination
to a world of justification
looking for integration
knowing that communication
is the way forward

I say I want a revolution, a human revolution
it’s gonna have to start with me
the only solution for this revolution
Has to start with me

We’re all in the same war
but not all in the same trenches 
these flames are deep, embedded
we need more than hammers and wrenches

reformation, inner reformation
takes transformation
no longer subjugation
seeing ourselves as real
human transformation
my own revolution
lighting my way and seeing you

Yasher Koiech Nefesh Yehudi

These words, “yasher koiech, mein nefesh Yehuda” 
“Have strength, my Jewish soul” is like the mantra
used to encloak myself when leaving the comfort of home.

Even with broad-minded people, there is always the risk
of awakening the sleeping dragon of the Jew-baiting anti-semite
ready to pounce.  Will this feeling, ever so deeply engrained
leave the awareness I call myself?

I choose one Jewish metaphor to describe myself, 
“charoseth”, the sweet, dark, spicy, nutty, tart mixture
made for the Passover Seder, one of the six Seder plates,
an homage to the slave labour in Egypt’s Pharoah time,
the reason for the Exodus.

Charoseth resembles mortar.  
Mortar builds things—houses, outdoor ovens.
Because Jews number few in population,
we are noticed and well-known for high achievements.
I try to build friendships 
while remembering the charoseth of 
apples and dates and wine and nuts.
I think of people this way, 
full of goodness, sweetness and with the 
intoxicating alluring risks hidden in the dangers of nuts.
I want to be accepted—not tolerated, 
therefore I must accept others
just as different to me as I am to them.
Not easy, but definitely doable.

I think of our foremother Esther whose intelligence
saved her people.
My own orphaned, biological mother Yocheved
was responsible, at age 7, for a younger brother and sister.
These women and Ruth, whose compassion became
synonymous with empathy used the mortar of their own wisdom 
to build better societies.
They are the woof and weft of the weaving of these cultures.

When Vashti refused to parade naked 
in front of her husband’s cadre of supporters
she was replaced by Esther and through 
cunning and fortuitousness exposed calumniaty 
for what it is.

At  7 years of age, at cheder (religious school), 
there was an Esther contest.  
I had no hope of winning.
My family was unable to purchase my costume.
Being self-conscious, yet enjoying the participation,
I took a brown paper bag, drew a crown of crayon coloured jewels,
borrowed my mother’s flowery cotton skirt and elastic-necked blouse,
marched down the aisle with a devil-may-care smile,
fully expecting nothing but a good time, and 
for my ingenuity, I won and won more than flowers
I won a confidence that is sewn irrevocably 
in the decision-making process of my every day

Never give up, give in, go forth, be creative, 
with the directive Yasher Koiech, Nefesh Yehudi
the mortar is in you, build with sweetness, goodness,
tartness, nuttiness, chutzpah and always with the
knowledge that with a Nefesh Yehudi
we are together, we are strong,
I am with you, I am strong,
I and you are strong and we are all together
Yasher Koiech!

©2022 Honey Novick
All rights reserved

Honey Novick…

…was privileged to record with bill bissett for the Secret Handshake Reading Series in December 2021. The Secret Handshake also published her chapbook, Bob Dylan, My Rabbi. Two copies were purchased by the Robards Library, University of Toronto. “Kaleidoscopic Wonderful” was published in January 2022 by the Taj Mahal Review. She was commissioned by the Friendly Spike Theatre Band to write the history of mad people’s theatre in Toronto with “I’m Mad, I Matter, Making a Difference,” and also edited the anthology, POEMDEMIC.


Be inspired… Be creative… Be peace… Be

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