Apparatus, or: Phylacteries

A ‘Magnetic Poem’ tanka

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with apparatus
on head, bare arm and fingers,
aching man's tongue pants,
chants soaring worship language
to need's elaborate beat


  • For this poem, I decided to stick with the ‘Original Set’ on the Magnetic Poetry website, as I did for my sexy vampire poem last time;
    • Having used this same set just recently, it was easier for me to find words that were compatible with one another at the first;
    • Actually, I pulled a lot of words out of the set that did not make their ways into the poem at all, but I wanted to see all of them together before deciding which ones to use;
  • I again opted for a tanka, rather than a haiku;
    • As I’ve written before, the extra two lines (14 syllables) provide me with a greater challenge, as well as with a larger canvas for my word-brush;
  • I searched for and found the featured image of the phylacteries on a man’s arm at the start, as soon as I decided to make use of the words ‘apparatus’, ‘arm’ and ‘fingers’;
    • I felt this to be important because many of my readers don’t know what Jewish tefillin (i.e. phylacteries) are, nor what they look like;
    • From the perspective of writing universally appealing poetry, this is clearly not a very relatable thing to write about, but, as Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.”

27 thoughts on “Apparatus, or: Phylacteries”

  1. This is very cool, and I also loved the factoid about the mindfulness-aiding prayer apparatus. Side note: it’s also always nice if one can claim a “my sexy vampire poem” in one’s roster. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ™Œ :)) xoxo

  2. I saw “aching man’s tongue pants” and my first thought was “Whoa, whose tongue is in whose pants during davening?!” and “what kind of shul is this?!”
    And then I re-read the poem and I realized that was not at all what your meant.

  3. (chants soaring worship language
    to need’s elaborate beat)
    This is just some kinda wonderful poetry
    Need’s elaborate beat – what a prayer , all encompassing
    I simply love the reminder and influence of Phylacteries

  4. I like how this magnetic poetry can cause unusual phrases. “aching man’s tongue pants” is one of those kind of lines that made me stop and re-read it, to make sure I saw it correctly. And what an image it conjures!

    1. Yeah, Magnetic Poetry really makes you think about what you’re trying to get across within those very strict limitations – many words that you might want to use – simply don’t exist in the set at all!

      Thanks, Dave!


  5. wow David; following your example, I have just created my first experimental haiku with the magnets – whereas previously I failed to share an attempt at one in any shape or form, this one worked – a little: At least I was able to she the link in a wp post. The theme is a continued one – a child without religion full of hope, not knowing in what…

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