Isræl

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
     […]Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”
     So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”
Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob,
     but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”
Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”
     But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?”
And there he blessed him.
               —Gen 32:24, 26–291

               Ya‘ăqōbh

Folding over waves of a discomforter’s
     libations, an invisible yet
palpable menacing of fingers weaves in
     its net of destruction a lure which
will catch men and make of them willing victims,
     sacrificial weapons stifling and
stilling the atmosphere, a drunkenness of
     fear fetching from caution’s well its waste’s
basket, chucking out coughing handfuls of dank
     hazard under a tension of breath
colder than seawater, a chuckling cuckold
     of chrome grins as a trigger tickles
its rim, a tearful trinity playing a
     game only one wins, fingers cock in,
waking deaf imminent if the crescendo
     of these moans reach no end, if heaven
rejects what offerings ecstasy sends up,

               *

     of virgin throats rise above doubt as
naïve laughter hollows them out, as maidens
     and vagrants dance to expletives, words
the consummate filth of which none have ever
     known well before or since love’s exile,
weeping swells as babble runs out of the woods
     into wounds, filling cells, hellish imps
of quips imprisoning them from within with
     short sentences, whispers laced with the
kind of kiss that begins with a bite and ends
     in a shout, this is day breaking for
them who have struggled with an angel, those once
     heathen beings quaking at the sound
of a name changing itself from Jacob to
     Isræl, bullets clanging down the
diamond-lined range of pipes, voices full as
     barrels fill barren voids of mouths and

               Yiśrā’ēl

empty out loud Polaroid pitchers of wild
     Piscean indecision, bleeding
songs and seeds of spectres in every last
     direction, illustrating life’s end
before the world’s can rush in its blushing stain,
     pushing deep memory’s pin, wrestling
against existence with intention and with
     pain, two of the three take care not to
mention the camera filming, beg of their
     circumstance not the reason for this
contest but the name of its contenders, no
     answer enough convincing to tame
the inscription of the role with the credits,
     imbuing the combatants with those
talents for which their powers are indebted,
     paying ransoms for legends their quest’s
map never let touch it, resenting touch what

               *

     happened to send these three into this
pretzel-twist of an embrace, man, devil, and
     angel, tasting death in a single
moment, one shot ricocheting off an odd
     angle between agony and peace,
piercing the hearts of each, leaving petals on
     a bed where, if entirely mortal,
blood would run instead, until the scene wraps them
     each in a shell, until an aging
canister tells technicians, archivists, and
     projectionists every detail
but the names of those temptations against which
     we all struggle, every evil
and all possible distress synonymous
     with us, or is it them, just one or
several, considering even god him-
     self uses many a pseudonym.

__________
1“Genesis”, Chapter 32, Verses 24, 26–29, “Jacob Wrestles at Peniel”, in “The Hebrew Scriptures Commonly Called the Old Testament: New Revised Standard Version” of The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books: New Revised Standard Version, published at New York by Oxford University Press in 1989; page 33.