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What happens when an Irish Catholic approaches Tanach [the Jewish Bible] without the preconceptions that Christianity has put on it? In these poems, Timothy O'Riley (bardic) takes a stroll through a family almanac of the soul.

Dear Abba

today I am not complaining about the
things you have allowed..we
have talked about this often
and will again,eh?

Today I want a word about
your creations themselves.

Ok,most are great..
the wolf,beautiful..
strong yet caring of family.
The eagle,a carrion eater
and yet so beautiful

Even the platypus,
who reminds us that yes
you have a sense of humour.

But abba...

the cold virus?

shalom aleichem

I am still stuck on
this creation thing of yours

they all have their place

but abba,then you made


after all the wrath and ruin
the sly deaths and Hollywood follies

to find quietude
the awesome power revealed in
simple words

Thy people shall be my people

..how much you must have smiled,
knowing somebody was
doing something right down here?

stronger,more clever men.
Yet you picked Moses, unsure,on
occasion hot-tempered,stuttering
his people to freedom.

It is almost as if You were saying
that anyone,everyone, can be called
to Your service if You want.

..no matter how weak?

Even one of us?

Even me?

once again You spring your little surprise.
Reading about Your vacation among the Philistines
and the fun you had there
and how You got home..when
there is that short footnote
eben nezer
Stone of Hope

No matter how foolish we are
or how severe our punishment
at some point You return to us
that eben nezer
our capacity for stubborn hope

raising up like love or fear
I thought more than once
of your aquatic prophet
and wondered what conversations he
had with the fish
that made him think he needed
to get upset
because You were merciful?

and why that same conversation
seems to play with so many still

this is himself writing..

..sneaking through my older brother's room
finding an album of writing
vignettes of the family.

..everyone who was everyone.

I had forgotten what a large family
and how quirky.

Do you mind if I read?

Some parts are hard to decipher

these watermarks with a tinge of salt
these rustcoloured stains
that are so horribly not rust

dear abba
help me understand what You have done to us
what we have done to you
what we have done to each other.

here is the essence
of my notunderstanding.
Not the testing of Job
for you have done that
I do not understand
but do not expect to.

Not even the death
of Job's family
For if there is one
thing you may not understand
it is our feeling on death.

no abba,what I do not understand
is that true cruelty
Job's second family

always knowing
always fearful
of what came before.

Was this your way of
introducing modern history?

> help me abba,
I cannot understand Job

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