The Master of the Good Name

who only lived for prayer,

trembled by the holy ark

because a Name so pure

was more than a body could bear.


The Master of the Good Name

saw each word in his prayer

as another Noah’s Ark,

of wings, wild cries and tusks

that he entered in his fear.

Said the Master of the Good Name,

–the Good Name that can’t be spoken–

every word is broken,

a wave against black rock

whose lacy fingers cannot hold.


If it’s only a human grammar

that a name can ever name

every word is a death

that falls away to nothing

which is no good name.



Rodger Kamenetz is a poet, author, and teacher. His best known book is The Jew in the Lotus.

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