Yom Kippur Ritual

by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

Every year I assail the heavens,
lashing out at redundant ritual,
keeping the prayer book shut,
and my mind shut even tighter.
I would like to connect to Him,
but not here, oh, no, not here
in this box of old men and ancient chants.
The mournful songs loop around my neck,
and the text, when I peek, lies prostrate
on the page in supplication and obeisance,
a one-themed dirge to a devotion I do not feel.
In answer, He has already suggested
my year may not go well, a trip here,
a pain there, a sign that my fate
may have already been sealed.
However, I would like to state for the record,
I continue to bang the walls in frustration,
dying for a way in, but highly averse
to mouthing the words with the old men
who await along with me the final verdict.

The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years.  Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in a new YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy,  edited by M. Jerry Weiss.


Filed under American Jewry, Jewish identity

4 responses to “Yom Kippur Ritual

  1. Fern Sidman

    Mr. Glenn:

    Your fate is never sealed. Hashem has compassion on all of us and wants to forgive us. May you live until 120 in the very best of health and never give up on G-d, because He hasn’t given up on you.

  2. We all have to find our own understanding of the mystery of creation. This poem expresses that personal search in a deep, hopeful, passionate way.

  3. Chaim

    Yom Kippur is a time of talking to G-d.
    Mel has spoken.
    May G-d answer, and Mel hear, and each find comfort in the other.

  4. Chuck Nash

    Friend Mel,
    I read “Yom Kippur Ritual”, then read it again and once more. We’ve known each other since we accidentally sat beside each other on that first day in Frau Bose’s Introductory German class–ah, those wonderful prelapsarian days–and yet I feel your poem gave me the piece of your picture, or, the piece that brought the whole picture into sharp focus. I think your poem, Mel, is remarkable!
    Congratulations, my friend

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