I am Jerusalem, or: Nothing

‘Beyond Meaning or The Resolution of Opposites’

– a d’Verse poetics prompt


For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

-Wallace Stevens, ‘The Snow Man’
Harkened through the snows of New Jersey,
Heeded through the storms of Cleveland,
Purest nothing, on nothing, absorbed me,

Sheerest nothing, on nothing, I am
Upon nothing, nothing I, one/dering
About nothing, not touched much by snow,

Where nothings, together, not nothing,
Where something within ached to go,
Nothing, listened, through blustery blizzards,

Whispering, nothing, nothing, here I am
Through cold nothing, I heard, I shivered,
Something, mine, called [from] Jerusalem.

The prompt

The above poem is my take on d’Verse’s ‘Beyond Meaning or The Resolution of Opposites’ prompt.

The writing challenge: We were to focus on the theme of ‘paradox’ and select one of the following to build poems around, of which I selected #2:

1. Here are some lines from Paul Dunbar’s The Paradox:  – select ONE and build your poem around it.

  • I am thy fool in the morning, thou art my slave in the night.
  • I am the mother of sorrows; I am the ender of grief;
  • I am the bud and the blossom, I am the late-falling leaf


2. Take the last lines of Wallace Stevens’ The Snow Man and write a poem that is imbued with the existential paradox implied there. [the meaning of which is the ridding of our usual human observation and viewing winter as a ‘man of snow’ not a snowman! (more HERE)]

  • For the listener, who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

53 thoughts on “I am Jerusalem, or: Nothing”

  1. This is so beautiful, David! It’s truly a paradox in being within nothingness and something-ness. 😀 Fantastic poem and I especially loved the ending. ❤ ❤

  2. I was so tired when I read the prompt last night that I just couldn’t get my head around the Stevens poem! Now I think I understand it, thank you David! 🙏😅

        1. dVerse is always a little late for me, and sometimes when I’m too tired to tackle a particular prompt I leave it till the morning. But often the ‘bartenders’ give a hint at the prompt a few hours early…

  3. I was so intrigued with this poem and it really does follow in the mood of the Wallace Stevens lines..
    the repetition of nothing brings a longing for somethingness
    “Where something within ached to go,
    Nothing, listened, through blustery blizzards,”
    but then it becomes like a mantra and the metaphysical in the paradox comes to the fore, and made manifest in that final line

    p.s. yes there was snow in Jerusalem last week – my sister lives there.

    1. I know 🙂

      I live here too (what neighborhood does your sister live in?)

      But I was very unimpressed with the “snow”. I wrote this poem about it:

      Vertical puddle, or: Snow
      Posted on 2021/02/19
      by ben Alexander

      My first rispetto

      T’wards snow in Jerusalem I feel cold,
      Slip-sloshing through this dirty wet hassle;
      I’d much prefer to stay locked in my hold,
      Where I’m king of my dry, humble castle

      Israelites tend to find snow exciting,
      But my fingers feel stiff while I’m writing.
      Such commotion would a Russian befuddle ~
      What’s so great ’bout a vertical puddle?

      1. Armon Hanatziv but she’ll be moving to the Galilee after 40 +years – they had snow there too!!
        Ha Ha – Russians would certainly see a vertical puddle!

        1. Well, Laura, if you ever find yourself in Jerusalem, I would love to get an hafuch with you – my treat!

          I live in Arnona.


  4. Just beautiful, David. Right from the start. I was captivated by what that meant: Purest nothing, on nothing, absorbed me. There is such an eternity to this. Bordering on oblivion. Words and imagery that leave me silent and wondering. Or “one/dering”. Well done.

  5. I like your title as it is a reflection of who you are.
    You’ve nailed the paradoxes in here well. Favorite lines:
    “Purest nothing, on nothing, absorbed me,”
    “Where nothings, together, not nothing,”
    “Through cold nothing, I heard … [s]omething, mine…”

  6. David —
    The snow as the metaphor of nothing/not nothing, and you “one/dering/About nothing, not touched much by snow” yet “here I am,” hearing, responding, called “[from] Jerusalem.” Paradoxical, yes, but pointing to a reality that is at the heart of it all. The spiritual element is very alluring to me.


  7. A little late for the comments but I enjoyed reading this one. It has even more impact when read aloud – the repetition is delightful to the ear and the tongue!

  8. It must have been nothing to write this one. 😆
    This line grabbed me~
    “Purest nothing, on nothing, absorbed me,”

    Amazing to be grabbed by nothing.
    Seriously, it reminded me that most of our material world is made up of space, of nothing.
    I like the concepts you are weaving in this one.

  9. A beautiful response to the original poem. I actually enjoyed the repetition…sort of trancelike when reading. I found the final stanza very powerful.

  10. Wow David, this is very beautiful… Really lovely. It’s spiritually touching. A wonderful paradox. Nothing has definitely became something 😊🌹

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