Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Scroll Verse

Adding It Up by Jake Marmer

Print Email

The Scroll is adding to our poetry output with Scroll Verse, a recurring feature that presents the works of Jewish poets–or in some cases, poets who write on Tablet themes or have Jewish souls. Our last poem was Creed: A Still Life by Susan Comninos.

Our latest installment is a work by Jake Marmer.

 

 

Adding It Up

“Gematria … interpretive freedom gone mad”

-Harold Bloom

I have this relative, a young guy. Call him Gematria. Not a gematria, but Gematria with a capital G because that’s his first name. Last name’s Woodpecker. Hence, Gematria Woodpecker. Anytime we’re at a family gathering together, before I even wash my hands there’s already an equation waiting on the table. Something adds up immediately! Gematria is a mystical thing: numbers behind letters behind words the world is made of. A great cosmic abacus that counts up not only causes and effects but all sorts of other more random things (which may be, by the way, why effects don’t add up to causes – but that’s a separate conversation). It is the world’s wiring the guy’s fiddling with it – this relative who isn’t even my relative, but is spliced upon me through one of those circumstances. If you add “Jake” and “the ladder” you get “rose” which is your wife, Shoshana, get it, you had to climb a ladder to reach her…. subtract “bird” from “jake and his woman” and you get the “blessing for the downtrodden”. He’s not wrong with either of these gematrias; but, weirdly, the look he gets as he busts them out is exactly like that of some middle-age dad who lives for his bad puns. What I’m trying to say is that maybe this obsession is not so crazy after all. The issue, of course, is that he’s also a Woodpecker – he’ll drill a hole in your head with these gematrias. Then again, we have nothing to say to each other, and it’s awkward – and what else has he got up his sleeve? I’ve been attracted to puns myself. lf all I ever read was holybooks and my Hebrew was much better, maybe I’d be gematrying all day long myself just like him. Come to think, it would’ve been nice to spice up a conversation at the table where I too have nothing to say, and overall, aside from a few dead-end jokes, sprinkling of anecdotes, and the obligatory didactic thing, there’s just not a whole lot happening for me, not a whole lot going on at all…

 

 

Jake Marmer’s first collection of poetry, Jazz Talmud, was recently published by the Sheep Meadow Press.

Print Email

COMMENTING CHARGES
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at letters@tabletmag.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Scroll Verse

Adding It Up by Jake Marmer

More on Tablet:

Why the Teenage Girls of Europe Are Joining ISIS

By Lee Smith — Because they want the same things that teenage boys want: a strong sense of meaning and purpose