About this book
In BOOK OF FAILED SALVATION, her second collection, poet and rabbi-in-training Julia Knobloch chronicles a relationship that spanned continents before coming to an end. In these poems, complicated Jewish histories intertwine with a yearning for consolation, while prophets dance and cypresses tower into the sky. Knobloch’s exploration of loneliness resonates with our own losses, and her questions about creating our salvation are rays of light illuminating life from unexpected angles.
“In these intensely felt and exquisitely wrought poems, the focus on love, loss of love and the personal journey opens profound perceptions through language steeped in both the sacred and profane. While concretely personal, the poems insist on their location in nature, history, and tradition. ‘What’s unplanned can seem prophetic,’ the poet writes in musical lines that reflect the movement made by an exploratory mind as it examines its own feelings and insights, and in the process creates poems that surprise and excite.”
– Linda Stern Zisquit, author, Havoc: New and Selected Poems
“The beautiful poems in Julia Knobloch’s Book of Failed Salvation express a tender longing for spiritual, physical, and emotional connection. They detail a life in movement—across distances, faith, love, and doubt. The poems vividly evoke the lived experience of a number of places, Brooklyn, Jerusalem, and Los Angeles, each landscape always changing like the restless speaker who seeks a knowledge and an experience of what the poems unapologetically call ‘salvation.’ ”
– David Caplan, author, Into My Garden
"Port of Salt, In the West"
for Yehuda Halevi
This port was founded when the temple stood
in the east, across the sea
Phoenicians salted fish; Romans traded pottery
when the temple fell in the east, across the sea
From this port of salt you embarked
driven by your longing for the dawn
fallen kingdoms behind you, waiting for you
in the east, across the sea
Far is the green river from this port of salt
Your daughter and her son stood on the quay
They promised to tend your empty gardens
You fell into the dust at the gates of your desire
Please call me Morenica, one more time
The sun has turned my pale skin dark
Your ship sails to the east, across the sea
and all my longing goes with you, Yehuda
Light washes over kitchen tiles like water
wavering with the rhythm of the trees
Sometimes I don’t remember if your eyes
are green or amber, eyes of a deer
Where we are from
deer are symbols of male splendor
swift and strong
Far from the land, they hide
in birch forests, behind dark pines
Come quick, I want to feel your heart beat
return to our embrace
Dew was in your hair when I left
the tiles in your apartment cool under my feet
tea glasses and date syrup on the kitchen table
quiet olive trees outside
I am up early again this morning
the water called me to the beach
Where you are now, the world is still asleep
It was a day from childhood summers
when you could stay inside
without the urgency to seize the day
when there would always be more of this—
this heat, this scent, these cherries
when you could still go to the beach tomorrow and again.
The sunset turned brownstones yellow.
We sat in my glowing garden
one day and fifty years after the landing on the moon.
An ocher crescent waxed on the label of the wine you brought.
I stroked your naked feet that rested in my lap.
Your eyes were green and amber.
One day and nineteen hundred fifty years ago,
the city’s walls were breached.
I was supposed to guard the temple courts—
how could I not yield to summer’s siege?