BRENDAN ברנדן

New Blog Fiction

I understand that I have been absent from this Scattered Sefer for quite some time. Other than habitually visiting the blog roll to follow some interesting writers, but rarely contributing anything on my site with the exception a few poignant stanzas by other authors that have touched me at relatable times, has made me feel almost guilty in taking the back seat of my writing habits.

I have returned to say, yes, Shalosh Sha’at is still in progress, and a new blog fiction project of mine will be joining it.

Dagger Men“.

Dagger Men is to be set during the tumultuous reign of Caesar Vespasian, within the newly occupied Roman Judea. Yakve, a becoming man inspired by the Zealot political faction rising from its domineering display during a recent state-wide revolt, is charged by his pious father to influence his older brother Yeshak, who is hopeless for his people, and who is attempting to censor a musing for the Roman occupation draft.

I will follow this post with a preview of the story soon.

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BRENDAN ברנדן

If–

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

“If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

“If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it
,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”

-Rudyard Kipling

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Shalosh Sha'at

SHALOSH SHA’AT שלוש שעות


Shalosh_Shaat_titlecard

is “Three Hours”.

The unit of time measured of which it took the heavily-outnumbered Israeli Air Force to destroy the entire Egyptian arsenal of jet fighters and bombers, effectively establishing air-superiority during the Six-Day War, was Three Hours.

SHALOSH SHA’AT is a blog-fiction project that will give prominence to personal experiences had during the Six-Day War, from Israeli perspectives to Egyptian and American; from the perspective of witnesses and participants, to that of soldiers and sons. I am not only looking to sharpen my skills as a writer documenting a valid, well-known historical event, but I also wish to augment my personal understanding of the geo-political moods and cultural introspections of the era with my understanding of Judaism, to the generations of opposing nations and how the conflict affected its people mentally, physically and emotionally; my understanding of Israel’s perpetual growth and struggles giving her rise to international spotlight, and how the conflict has helped forge what the Middle East is today.

SHALOSH SHA’AT is an emotional scope as much as it is a historical introduction to what is regarded as one of the greatest modern military achievements. SHALOSH SHA’AT is a struggle, a piece of frustration, doubt, uncertainty and endeavoring Hope; manna in the sand for both the people who lived through the Six-Day War, and for the generations who live in its shadow.

SHALOSH SHA’AT

PART I: Beginning

PART II: Hermon’s Thunder (Part I)

PART III: (coming soon)

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ISRAEL ישראל, LITERATURE ספרות

‘ZaHal’ (2010)

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Beneath Turquoise skies, Her rivers flow wide
Fire cheated flame to which Kingdoms hath formed
Where flut’ring stripes fly in echoing pride
A Sacred land spare glory, hope
yet War
Throughout Her hist’ry, she hath been exchanged,
Back to Her tender care we have returned
To the great dismay of nations in hatred,
We stand and defend with all of our earn.
Her blessings reach far, as a mother’s Arms;
I want to go and restore though we’re far,
Rush to protect Her before she is harm’d
Give my life to fight beneath David’s star.

A Saint who hath birth’d Kings and is our God’s own,
I will incur full might, I am call’d to Home.

(Photograph of Paratroopers Brigade exercise in May 2010, courtesy of IDF Spokesperson)

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BRENDAN ברנדן

‘September’

While reading through some old poetry I wrote growing up, this piece stuck out to me. I wrote it as a senior in high school, inspired by the German invasion of the Netherlands, a particular, beautiful Dutch city by the name of Arnhem, and its subsequent liberation by Allied forces in September 1944. It won me first place in my high school’s first annual poetry competition.

WindmillColorized 1930 photograph of one of Holland’s windmills, destroyed during liberation in September 1944.

I have always been allured by this region of Europe, with its peaceful grasslands and famous windmills; an innocent lowland which saw the detestable evils of senseless destruction, the disruption of a loving people, and the snare of deportation and genocide. Because of this attractive, silent scene and its history of unearthing and healing, I feel a deep conviction to visit Arnhem and take this all in; just as I felt the need to pull these words from my heart and out of my mind, and give a voice to the people who lived in Nazi Germany’s terrible shadow.

Enjoy.

_____

Sunrise.
They awake from the night
filled with a dying Ambience, stirred
by the falcon who took flight
dropping bombs beneath
swastikas sheathed in steel
and conquering the night in fiery flare.

The night terror hath gone
Morning flame enlightens the sky, the city
Rolling on ruins,
gentle, like honey.

There is something beautiful about destruction.

The seclusions of the dark
expose like carrion
The shops stand and sway
softly like the warblers nesting,
singing, far away
from this curious and sleeping hell.
There is no green
the streets have gone
flooded by the walls and beds and dressers
of families kill’d, departed, and regimented
into Holland’s war

Pluck, pluck,
Fire the strings of a harp
Falling rain and father’s tears
bathe the sunlit ruin
in warm water
It does not stop falling.

Ashes slowly descend,
gently,
Like humble shreds of paper snow,
Fluttering to and fro in the tender breeze,
Covering piles of jagged concrete and unrooted trees,
And into streams running black like bubbling lead.

Brilliant thud;
dissonance of collapsing rubble,
Bass’ly snares of artillery guns and machine weapons
clamouring far away,
and pounding our breasts so dreadfully near.

The splendor which gives light to our penance,
reaches high above the threshold of white thunder,
gleams upon every sullen surface in our ruined city,
shines in alabaster grace about the streets now flooded again.

A dying terrier caught in the treads of a panzer tank whimpers to the sound,
the sorrowful sweet harmony of singing voices.
Brothers, fathers, sisters, and mothers
Saints and Sinners raise hands in redeeming falling waters
arms and fingers and tattered flags
rising from the rubbles of hatred,
one final time, shout
“Hold out!
Stand… stout!”

The drums of liberation clap within and around
cracked and bleeding walls,
as French horns hum mournfully amidst the golden-bright storm.

Shadows pass the bricks and planks and ripped-out roads of Arnhem,
Blooming roses and crimson poppies shiver and
flinch from the late summer’s restless reign.

The sobbing does not stop,
the singing retorts in uncanny tones,
Thunder rumbles above the hissing skies,
the splashes sooth, and so strongly the godsend demands.

“Hold long!
Hold strong!”

“Sing loud!
Sing… Proud!”

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BRENDAN ברנדן, ISRAEL ישראל

The Tsabra Project

Because of changes I have eluded this blog’s pages– changes portent to the life I wish to live, but flowing opposite the direction of where I thought I was headed– which have both prevented me from posting here as often and are the inspiration for a new Project I am constructing:

Tzabra_Project_cropped

The Tsabra Project.

The Tsabra Project is simply to be a photo journal of my choosing to live the Jewish life. One of the most recurring fantasies influencing my mind and decision making is the intensive desire of mine to document every single life event, whether small or large; these affirmations, whether it be a photograph taken, a letter sent, a blog post published, helps me realize a moment’s intensity and appreciate the fullness of what I am trying to capture in my mind’s eye.

And that is exactly what I want to grow up to be: A story teller. I will be keeping this domain for my personal jots, short stories and poetry, and of course for Shalosh Sha’at, but The Tsabra Project will open up a new front for me in exercising my skills in the profession I ultimately choose and the life I want to embrace: photojournalism and Judaism.

It is time to become a true person of the Book; the site is live, and its construction will be completed soon. (But unless I forget Thee, O Jerusalem, the site may go unfinished for a good while as these personal changes continue to unfold and solidify)

(Background Photograph: Chicago facing North from the Willis Tower Skydeck, 6 July 2013)

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BRENDAN ברנדן

Wounds

Let it be Your will
that my words of my mouth and
the meditations of my heart
come before You, Adonai;
my Rock, my Redeemer.

I will crush my fantasy
bring me olive oil, crushed
for His majesty
To shine warmth unto eternity,
this is Your eternal decree:
Dance like flames
There’s no gravity,
for now I’m just a candle
trying to stay lit on this windy night.

(Matisyahu, Silence)

Wounds require time.
They require attention and care, and sometimes we can bother our wounds to the point that they begin to crack and bleed.
It is okay to have wounds, physical and emotional wounds are natural.
Sometimes wounds heal into scars, but not without their sources: extreme turmoil, agitation.
Life is learning to pull from digging at these wounds; healing means not agitating what needs to be cured.
It is vital to remember, that although we look and feel at these scars and flinch at their terrible memory, these reactions mostly fade with time.
We are the sole decider of whether we will heal, or if we will break down.

But there are exceptions, such as these two curious marks just above my right elbow.
For the longest while I believed they were scabs that just wouldn’t heal; it seems gross, but I would habitually pick at them, constantly causing infections on this elbow.
For six years my arm would bleed, and for six years I would scratch without giving a second thought.
One day I decided to stop, and the wound healed, and there was still the coarse presence of what might have been a scar, only it does not have the character of one.
I have learned to accept it, that it is a part of me, and that I need to stop trying to treat something that belongs as if it were a scar.
But this still does not retract from the adage that wounds do take time to heal.

Just a few thoughts.

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BRENDAN ברנדן, PRAYER תפילה

Symmetry

I know that my depression is flaring again, and it is the dismal, irresolute nature of this mental illness that causes a trademark sense of hopelessness within the many ordinary people who struggle with it. This takes a toll on my productivity, and to my humiliation, my moods, but being familiar with these clinical swings for quite some time, I have fortunately been able to mature my tactics to keep me over the “black cloud” that affects others and I so greatly.

Along with these expected highs and lows, I have been receiving more migraine headaches than I can recall, to the uneasy point of nausea and stone-heavy eyelids. These monthly headaches have become so tolling that I am unable to work, unable to talk, and unable to even sleep unless accompanied by much water and medication.

This worries me, but again, I am learning to remain three steps ahead of my struggles; I am learning to gain symmetry and control of my life and my physical and mental setbacks; parity between my yearning heart and restless mind.

Accompanying these mental roadblocks, I am unable to read and write as much as I am able to, nor attend Temple and study on my conversion.

Shalosh Sha’at has even been put on hiatus (albeit a work in progress) as I begin to question the voice that is telling the story, whether to demonize or humanize the Jews and the Arabs, becoming horrified of the war and the Suez milieu, and feeling a desire to simply light a candle and kindle warm thoughts with someone to take in my words; to hear comforting, honest, affectionate responses.

But in the dark of these thoughts, I am taking great strides out of my oubliette and toward a place where my thoughts, creativity, and focus can flourish.

I am stepping out of my introverted boundaries and befriending many new people from different walks of life, even beyond other Jews.

I am going to sign a lease for a new apartment which will bring me closer to the cities, and I look forward to having a personal, private study overlooking the Minnesota River.

I have been amassing a research library to aid in my conversion, I have begun to pray with confidence again, and my internal fires are growing hotter for my identity is becoming solidified with a passion to see the world through loving eyes; my hope in humanity is gone, but my love for it is rich and growing.

Headaches and loneliness do not measure up against HaTikvah, the Hope, that roots itself deep in my heart. It is all just one of many anticipated roadblocks I will be pulled through as I sift my focus from hopelessness to hopefulness, from dreamer to believer.

_____

What struggles do you face, and how are you faring against them? What passions, dreams, and commitments do you incessantly reach for, but feel powerless to pursue and achieve? If you need an ear to listen, and warm encouragement, do not hesitate in emailing me at brstieren@gmail.com.

“Plans are ruined without counsel, but they are established with many advisors.”

Proverbs of Solomon/Mishlei 15:22

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LITERATURE ספרות

Dust Song

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On this eve I miss the miracles of the book, and unable to prevent shriveled postludes;
Under Ukraine’s stars, when our hearts recall that we had let our guard down. And
Running beneath that chalky sun; streams ran from my knuckles, from rivets to mud.

Hold onto that starry night, where innocence had
Once lived. If The Name were near, nothing like these
Parched consciences we would fear, I know; like the sun now so high and just,
Ego does not make a man any more than heat on clay; holes to rust.

I forget what it is like to live, I’ve dreamt too much; time draws to a close
So I revert to a feeling– I have let my guard down, I will let my heart hope.

New armor comes with time; but waiting, hiding in dust and routing through the scars,
Omits the opportunity for change. You must take this call; endure the burns, ride out the stall;
To pick up your arms and carry through inevitable, know that you will go far.

Your trials are never effortless: minds run like a horse, we need time for a love now so
Empty; the gun now so heavy. But keep on that furloughed trail, and remember who you are– from
The Life you’ve come. The hope is as close as that raging sun; Holy and hot, covering this lot.

Let go as we crave for the familiarity of the past, and watch it burst in our passionate right;
Off with the loitering light, strumming your song, before you go from dreamer to
Sleeper, mark your heart with this thought, declare silently, boldly in the night:
That our Hope is not yet lost.

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