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Ronny Someck - his poetry

More poems > here



The Ballad of Alcohol Valley

Yoav Gilboa made music for Ronny Someck's 'The Ballad of Alcohol Valley'.
Ronny Someck reads the peom.

Hear it > here

Read the poem > here


Pirate Love Poem

The Rony Voodoo Band used Ronny Someck's poem 'Pirate Love Poem' for a track on their latest cd 'Hard Soil'.

Vocal - Lior Akerman
Guitars, Vocals - Ori Wallenstein
Guitars - Assaf Alpert
Bass - Guy Maoz
Drums - Tal Drigov
Composed by - Assaf Alpert
Lyrics - Ronny Someck


Algeria (in French: Algérie)

Noa Ben Shoshan hosting the poet Ronny Someck on her debut EP launch.
she sings the poem in French.

Lyrics by Ronny Someck
Music by Noa Ben Shoshan

Guitar - Idan Toledano
Nei - Niri Sadeh
Ppercussion - Ori Dekel

Read the poem in English > here


Patriotic Poem

See and hear the poem "Patriotic Poem' in Italian.

Read the poem in English > here



And her husband blurted: Buchenwald

They stretched out a sheet for Madame Clara and took her down from the second floor
to the ambulance.
What did she die of? we asked, before we heard the rumor
that she hung herself in the bathroom,
and her husband blurted: Buchenwald.
At home they told me that Buchenwald is the piece of bread
that Aizik's father always keeps
in his pocket,
that it’s the chairs that Mrs. Henia
borrowed from the neighbors for
the guests that never show up to the Seder,
that it’s the ostriches that bury their heads in the forehead of the woman,
who waits near the school fence in order to check
that her daughter is still breathing.

Buchenwald, they did not say, is also
the collars chocking the guards' throat
which from that night clicked steps in my patrols of dreams,
Buchenwald is the boots warehouse in which I hid myself
from pupils of the SS which chased around their eyes,
and it's even the badge yellowed in the imagination,
on the wool coat that my father brought from Baghdad.

Translation: Liora Someck




Baghdad, February 91

Along these street shattered by bombs they would push my stroller.
The nymphs of Babylon pinched my cheeks and swayed palm leaves
over the blond locks of my hair.
What’s left of it has since turned black,
like Baghdad
and like the stroller when they fetched it from the shelter
during the waiting days of another war.
Oh Tigris! Oh Euphrates! Serpentines of pleasure
on the first map of my life,
how did you turn into snakes?

Translation: Michel Opatowski


Pieces of Advice for a Dancing Girl

Efrat Gosh sings Ronny Someck's poem 'Advices for a Dancer'.

Read the poems > here



This is the poem about the girl who asked me to write a poem about her (second version 2015)

She leaned the mop against the door to the toilets
at the Jaffa branch of the Savings and Loan and wrung it out
with Soaked fingers.
I knew her neck, her bending body, her family honor
multiplying buttons on her blouse.
I knew she came from Kalansawa and if there'll be a poem
I'll title it Fatma Morgana.
Years go by.
and when I will come across her I'll tell about Mohammed Ali
who once was called "dirty nigger" while strolling on the street
and his friends urged him to strike back
with a fist.
And he replied ," if Arthur Rubinstein walked by
and somebody called him a 'dirty kike'-- would he
knock him out with a concert?"

Translation: Liora Someck



Blues of The Nude Model that suddenly emerged from Art School Memories

She did not identify me
years have passed since the night I aimed at her
a gun that pierced holes
in the clouds that I hid
under the pillow.

The bus didn’t rush to come and she lit
another cigarette, maybe since she wanted to wrap in smoke
a Tuluz Lotrek painting that was copied by a retarded hand
on the ‘Moulin Rouge’ lingerie store sign.

A whole cavalry battalion rode on her since,
and nothing didn’t make a centimeter from her flesh forget.

The first time I approached her
she said that a painting squad is worse than a shooting squad,
and that she has to bath to remove all the brushes
they wedged in her.
“Ha” I told her, “you are not as the girls that are asked
‘what is your sign’ so as to marry them”.
“That’s a sign”, she answered, “that you got it in a minute”.

That evening in the twilight zone, at the edge of the three steps
between the school gate and a loose tile before
the crossing I knew there was no chance of
embrushing with her.

And now what to say behind her back?
Maybe that her cheek bones became very pointed?
That rust clung to the arrows that once flew from her eyelashes?
Or to say
that also today on the mines hidden in her body
are charcoal painted
the next explosion ricochets.

Translation: Hanni Dimitstein


Shemo Bakery, Judah Maccabee branch 

The salesgirl at the bakeshop
has dyed the ends of her tresses
with yellow white black borrowed
from the body of a leopardess.

Who needs cake.

Translation: Vivian Eden



Poem of the Week / With such wonder, who needs cake?

Does Ronny Someck dismiss the charms of patisserie?

by Vivian Eden | Dec. 16, 2014 | Haaretz

In just four lines, Ronny Someck confects a many-layered vignette.

Judah Maccabee is a street in an upscale neighborhood of north Tel Aviv, named for the hero of the Hanukkah story. Suddenly a prosaic street address whisks us backwards in history to “those days, at this time,” in the words of one of the blessings over the Hanukkah candles.

The Shemo bakery belongs to a national chain – but this is not an advertisement. The point is that the banal, commercial location is the setting for something if not miraculous, then at least out of the ordinary.

Not the array of baked goods but rather the salesgirl is the extraordinary sight, a near-sphinx, part human, part wild feline. She suggests a lithe and colorful sensuality, echoing the decorative aspects but belying less salubrious properties of the products she sells.

Perhaps the man distracted by jungle thoughts has come into the shop to buy pastry for family or guests. Perhaps he is going visiting and feels the need to “bring a little something” or perhaps he is there to order a cake for a birthday or a wedding.

At this time of year, though, most bakery stops are for the Hanukkah treat sufganiyot, which are called doughnuts in Britain and on the east and west coasts of North America, bismarcks in the Midwest, beignets in Louisiana and France and bombolini in Italy. The deep-fried treats are Berliners in some parts of Germany, while in Berlin itself they are Pfankuchen, not to be confused with pancakes of any stripe.

When told that peasants have no bread to eat, Marie Antoinette supposedly riposted: “Let them eat cake” (brioche, actually). Apparently, though, Jean-Jacques Rousseau coined the phrase well before she became the last Queen of France. In any case, the idea is that bread is a necessity whereas cake is frivolous. Or is it?

Here, “Who needs cake” is not punctuated as a question. Everyone needs cake. Any life worth living has fleeting bits of sweetness in the mouth, pardonable sins, momentary celebrations. And eyes too can enjoy, without touching and without damaging teeth, BMI  or commitments.

Ronny Someck was born in Baghdad in 1951, came to Israel as a child and has published 11 books of poetry.

*Musing: Is the man’s appreciation of the salesgirl sexist or feminist in attributing power to women, or simply aesthetic?


Ice Cream

טלמה - גלידה | Talma sings Ronny Someck's poem 'Glida' (Ice Cream).

Read the poem > here


'Revenge of the stuttering Child' and 'Patriotic poem'

Ronny Someck reads (in Hebrew) his poems 'Revenge of the stuttering Child' and 'Patriotic poem' at the new cd by 'The Middle East Project'.
See the cd > >here


Dream Treaties
(A belated report from a seminar of Arab and Jewish poets, Beit Berl, 1994)

There were half-green lawns,
miserly sprinklers
and one scary moment when my daughter
vanished from view.
She was three at the time and after a search of several minutes
she grinned from ear to ear,
standing in a wagon usually used for distributing towels
and Samih al-Qasim’s and Mohammed Hamza Ghanayem’s children
had trundled her from one end to the other of the hall
where more than a field of thorns could have been planted
in the furrows plowed by the adults’ brows.
Afterwards the children traded roles
and the cart continued to sail like a pleasure ship
in the puddles of words choked
in two languages.

I so wanted to be a captain or a deck boy
or even just a lifebuoy
on that voyage,
and I was madly envious of the children, who had they paper and pencil
would in the space of 10 minutes
have signed dream treaties.

Translation: Vivian Eden



Peace to prince Adonis

You ask: "What is a metaphor?"
And answer: "wings flutter
in Hearts of words".
And I remembered your hand's wing landing on my actual daughter's shoulder
In a Catalan city empty of birds.
She apologized that her Arabic is made
of Oriental class in her school.
And you said that it was better than the leftover words
Made in Baghdad that were choked in my mouth.
"It's about  time," you smiled, "the  daughter will teach
The father
His mother tongue."
My mother, Adonis, is the forest keeper in which planted words are
waiting to germination.
my daughter was born from a heart that I carved to my love on
one of the trees,
And language is the sound of wind saber rattling
in what remains from quiff's  leaves.

Translation: Shirly Someck





Salut à Adonis roi

Quand tu demandes: qu'est ce qu'une métaphore?
tu réponds: des arbres qui battent
dans le coeur des mots.
Je me rappelle de ta main atterrissant comme une aile
sur l'épaule de ma fille dans une ville catalane sans oiseaux.
Si elle s'excuse pour l'arabe qu'elle a appris
à l'école dans ses études de langue,
tu réponds qu'il est meilleur que tous les mots
nés à Bagdad mais étouffés dans ma bouche.
Tu souris: il est temps que ta fille apprenne
à son père
la langue de sa mère.
Ma mère, Adonis, garde la forêt où sont plantés
des mots
qui attendent de germer.
Ma fille est née du coeur gravé pour celle que j'aime
sur le tronc de ces arbres,
et la langue est la voix des épées froissées dans le vent
sur ce qui reste de la lame des feuilles.

Traduction: Michel Eckhard Elial

Adonis (left) and Ronny Someck
Lleida, Spain, 2006





DJ at the Shelter for Abused Women

I want to be a DJ
at the shelter for abused women,
singing songs to net swordfish 
from the eye's bottom, to drown sharks of pain
and fill the heart’s aquarium
with goldfish.
But the ears of abused women are
pits full of curses,
and they are frightened of every scratch on the lips of a word,
of a knife sharp as a tongue,
of the throat’s vacuum lined with silk-alike.
“Women, women,” I whisper to myself,
“I’m scribbled like a page torn out of your biography
and you are lines of the blues I’ll compose
with the alphabet of periods when you are nothing more
than flesh chucked out from the butcher shops of hell".

Translation: Shirly Someck



4 Pieces of Advice for a Dancing Girl

RikudNetto danced on Ronny Someck's poem '4 Pieces of Advice for a Dancing Girl'.
Music: David Dvaash Shalit
Choreography: Tirza Sapir
Performing: Lilach Shalit

Read the poem > here


Poem for a Daughter who is already born

Hani Dinur - voc
Benzi Gaffney - bass

Read the poem > here


Stammering child's Revenge

A poem by Ronny Someck
Music by Eyal Maoz and Pocket Poetry Orchestra
Performed by Ronny Someck
Director - Tahnee Drago
Script by Federica Bellone, Elena Demidenko, Tahnee Drago
D.O.P. - Giorgio Marino
Scenography by Elena Demidenko, Tahnee Drago, Salvatore Lo Bianco
Visual Effects by Giuseppe Ferrera
Supervisor - Ambra Stazzone
Accademia di Belle Arti di Catania
Associazione Musicale Etnea 2012

The Stammering child's revenge

Today I speak in memory of the words that once were stuck in my mouth,
in memory of the teeth wheels that grounded syllables
under the tongue and smelled the gun powder
in the gap between the muzzle and the dusky lips.
I dreamt then of smuggling the words that were packed as stolen goods
in mouth's warehouses,
of tearing the cardboard wrappings and pulling out the alphabet toys.
The teacher used to lay her hand on my shoulder saying that Moses
too stammered yet nonetheless he reached Mount Sinai.
My mountain was the girl who set
by me in class, and I did not have fire in my burning bush
to blaze, in front of her eyes,
the words that were burnt by my love for her.

La vendetta del bambino balbuziente

Oggi parlo in memoria dei vocaboli
impigliatisi un tempo nella mia bocca,
in memoria delle ruote dentate che sbriciolavano
sillabe sotto la lingua e fiutavano
polvere da sparo nello spazio tra il palato e le labbra oscurate.
Ho sognato allora di contrabbandare le parole camuffate da merce
rubate nei magazzini della bocca,
di strappare il cartone ed estrarre i giocattoli dell'alfabeto.
L'insegnate mi posava una mano sulla spalla,
narrando di un Mosé balbuziente
asceso, nonostante tutto, al Sinai.
Il mio monte era una bambina seduta in classe
accanto a me, ma il roveto della lingua
non infiammava
innanzi a lei,
le parole arse
dal mio amore
per lei.


Love Poem with a Ceiling Fan

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb & Alon Oleartchik sing Ronny Someck's poem 'Love Poem with a Ceiling Fan'.
Read the poem > here

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb & Alon Oleartchik - Voices
Julia Feldman - Background Vocals
Udi Horev - Guitar
Anat Fort - Piano
Ora Boasson-Horev - Upright Bass
Dani Benedict - Drums
Gilad Dobrecky- Percussion



Chinese Rug

The man called Ping
The woman - Pong
And in the gap between their bodies love struck as a rug.
Warp of nakedness snuggled
In weft which knit a gold dragon
Between his legs

Translation: Liora Someck




A Covert Clarion Call For Queen Elizabeth and Baby George

My mother, the queen of one bench in Ramat Gan,
Joined in her heart with Buckingham Palace
To the Queen of all benches in England
And with a warm word Knitted with her
The first wool crown
For George Alexander Louis.

Grandmothers, no matter where, are always
Rivers of honey flowing from mountains of heart
To dead-end streets.

Translation: Karen Alkalay-Gut




The Mouth

The mouth is like a stable gate
Kicked open by a horse – a word.
Giddyap,” I shout to love,
“Giddyap, Giddyap,”
And it tosses its mane
Bearing on its back a pile of flame
It plundered from wayside bonfires.

Translation: Vivian Eden



Like a Cheetah. Nature Poem

New work with Oded Halahmy.
It is displayed in Pomegranate Gallery in NY.


Like a Cheetah. Nature Poem

Like a panther, he stalked her.
Meaning: the jungle beneath her belly.

Oh night, dug in her armpit like a trap
the curve of her shouldear,
and the light of fireflies called nipples

Translation: M.Dor and B. Goldberg







Horse Power

No horse has ever read “The Headless Horseman.”
No horse has ever seen Picasso’s paintbrush
Lashings on the tail of Don Quixote’s horse.
Horses are illiterate and color blind
But in the soft rubbing of mane against mane
I learned to affix love like a horseshoe.

Translation: Vivian Eden



Poverty Line

Hanan Yovel sings Ronny Someck's poem 'Poverty Line'.



Drums Solo

All night you were pounded
by thoughts.
Your skin was stretched on the body drum.
You would have taken the sticks to a Chinese restaurant
and stab the whale’s flesh that swam in your brain.
In the morning I hold you
as if you were a nail between a shoemaker’s lips.
Your head is wet, anticipating the hammer touch.
The heel that slips to the shoe will lift the moment
in which you will come closer to me.

Translation: Hanni Dimitstein





Sonnet of the Landscape's Sleeve

Here the band 'Rony Voodoo' singing Ronny Someck's poem 'Sonnet of the Landscape's Sleeve'.
It's track 3 of their cd 'Election Year'.




It's difficult to melt away from memory the chunk of blue ice that had frozen in
The numbers tattooed on his arms
And the belt he used to whip the woman who'd been there with him
And is now keeping silent on the balcony.
"A pity," his voice used to cut, "That Hitler didn't work extra hours."
And the cacti in pots were sticking out like the barbed fences
Of the camp he'd fled from.
Foam was spilling from the well of his poisonous mouth,
And he used to wipe it with the flag hanging there from one Independence Day
    the next.
"Mr. Aushwitz," we shouted the time they took him away to the asylum,
And he managed to put his hand into a pocket and peel off
Cellophane from the candies he threw at us.

Translation: Robert Manaster & Hana Inbar




Marilyn Monroe




Her poem

Loneliness is stuck like a pencil in the belly of the sharpener.
Its shaven head is lead
and its tip stabs the skin of paper stretched across the girl’s face
open to her notebook of poems.
Where are the gold mines, I want to ask
and she turns the page, indicating the rust stains of the words
she parks, line by line,
in the parking lot of the sunset, the tear and the arm
torn from the shoulder of the boy who once
embraced her.
I’ve bought, she want to say, earrings
and a gun to pierce ears,
and meanwhile, beneath her brow
her gaze is tortured
by the inquisition of the eyes.

Translation: Vivian Eden




With the same chalk a policeman outlines a body in a crime scene
I outline the borders of the city my life was shot into.
I interrogate witnesses, extort out of their lips
Drops of arrack and imitate with hesitation the dance moves
Of pita over a bowl of hummus.
When they capture me, they'll take a third off for good behavior
And lock me up in the corridor of Salima Murad's throat.
In the prison's kitchen, my mother would fry the fish her mother
Pulled out of the river, and she'd tell about the word "fish"
Displayed on a huge sign over the new restaurant's door.
Whoever dined there got a sliver of fish until
One of the customers asked the owner to reduce
The sign or enlarge the fish.
The fish will prick his bones, will drown
The hand that plucked its scales.
Even boiling oil on the interrogation pan
Wouldn't get an incriminating word out of its mouth.
The memory's an empty plate, scarred with a knife's scratches
On its skin.

Translation: Robert Manaster & Hana Inbar


The Handle of a Hoe

Uri Bitan made music to Someck's poem 'The Handle of a Hoe'.
Read the poem > here



Tali Nov sings Someck's poem 'Napkin'.
Music by Uri Bitan.
Read the poem > here



Autumn. A French Film.

Autumn is typically French,
witnessed on the face of a man
entering the local butchershop

saying he has no title
for his new novel.

"Are there trumpets?" asks the butcher.
"Are there drums?"
"So call it, 'No trumpets. No drums.'"

Then a yellow leaf landed, Jacques Prever-style,
on the gold collar of a dozing cat,
and the very first drop of rain sat
on its tail, signalling the end of dog-days,
the days of barking.

Translation: Henry Israeli



Indian Yona

for Yona Wollach

She wanted to die on the Snows of Kiriat-Ono,
in the footprint of
the grizzly bear that raised her.
The starched hands of night undressed her
and the birds that embroidered the air above her
flew off to peck at a sweet Sabbath bread
lying in the garbage bin beside the bakery.
On her head shone Queen Esther's crown.
When she heard the poems of the foolish King, Achashverosh,
wings sprouted onto her shoulder blades
and war-paint appeared on her forehead.
"You see," she told me, "in the end I will be the Indian dove
of the stories you told about
your friend, Vineto."

Translation: Henry Israeli



Love Poem

And my love will resemble an amusement park beyond cure
with plastic animals riding round a ferris wheel
and a slide shaped like the bridge of her nose.
And a toy tractor ploughing blush onto her face--
a tractor like the John Deer Model 66 I once saw in the Galil--
will caress a quivering neck
before it strokes the mountains' cheek.

Translation: Henry Israeli



From this Distance the Tombstones look like a Flight of Storks

in the memory of N.

From this distance the tombstones look like a flight
of storks, or a flurry of doves
that a certain Yemenite trained for the opening
ceremony of the Fifth or Sixth Maccabiah.
At night, when the pigeons scattered home, N. flung
stones at them and brought down two or three.
The sky was clear of stars, who were called
Lennon or Joplin or Hendrix,
who at the time were playing, all along the watch tower.
in the south of Tel-Aviv. N.’s friend,
the Jazz pianist, was dying.
On the record player, Billie Holiday had shortened
her skirt by five centimeters. She stood photogenically
in one of the street near Levinsky. By the way,
how do you translate the word “junk” into Hebrew?
Why have I knotted this question to somebody dead?
I could have asked it about someone alive,
but no: Death swirls in a failing memory through the streets
in an ambulance. Stretchers and sirens.
If this were a genuine alert
rising and falling sirens would be sounded.
Here’s N.’s sister for the eighth time in the same dress-
black satin cut so that her lovely
clavicle and throat ambush our eyes.
If a silver tray is needed after all,
let them serve vodka on it as well as soldiers,
and thus we could drink in memory
of the furtive scrap of paper he kept at fourteen,
listing the names of the girls who’d begun to wear bras.
I was the only one who knew about that,
and now I’m the only one who can remember it.

Translation: William Matthews



The Father's Speech to his daughter's Suitor

You, who will soon be touching her hands
and taking her to wherever you take her,
do not forget the piano lessons
her fingers knew at the age of nine,
the basketballs that were caressed on the way
to the net that filtered dreams
and the plasters on the imaginary cut
on the tip of her thumb.
In your imaginations draw her hand as a golden triangle
of which the sides are: Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Mozart
and God,
and when you see her finger pointing at the moon,
look at the finger.

Translation: Vivian Eden


Hear four poems in Hebrew and French

Quatre poèmes lu en hébreux par Ronny Someck et en français par Olivia Nicosia.
Prise de son: Eric Beauron - Sète, Juillet 2010

The tear comptroller's report

Yali Sobol sings Ronny Someck's 'The tear comptroller's report'. The music is by Hai Meirzadh.



In the matches box called passion
they rub head by head
and know that fire is a blow engine
in the orgasm train.

Translation: Liora Someck



Hanan Ben Simon sings Someck's poem 'Algeria'.
Read the poem > here



One line on Bessie Smith

Her voice is the eyelash shed from the eyes of God a moment before he roared “Let there be light.”

Translation: Karen Alkalay-Gut



Rima's poems

Listen, Ronny, if the men could whistle
Like in my mother’s stories,
You would be calling me, “Rima Orchestra”.
Believe me, their breaths on my nape, just made me hot
And once their heads turned towards me
I gave business to many chiropractors
That had to loosen up the tightness in their necks.
At night, I sleep on the diagonal, alone in bed,
My sardine brain swimming in the skull’s oil.
Yes, I too don’t exactly understand what I am saying,
But where are those men who know how to thrust a knife of words
And then say that if I were Jewish I would have lost
My virginity by now.
My dyed blond is Sammy the hairdresser’s fantasy.
I swear: I did not make up his name. He was born that way.
We went to school together at St. Joseph in Nazareth, and during breaks
He would sneak in to give me a fake pony tail.
His father says that with hands like his one could be an engineer
Or at least a window-blinds contractor and share the van
With his cousin,
But Sammy is addicted to scissors, and from our hair he has already built
Three floors in the middle of the village.
“What curls you have,” He says to me,
“Like the girls on the glossy pages of the magazine.”
Just for that alone I’d marry him, but
My father says that all the girls in the village hear the same thing,
And that I did not do five units of English and five units of Math
To burn them over someone who barely has the IQ of a shampoo.
I wrote my first poems in an antique café in Haifa.
I sat on a chair they told me once belonged to Mahmoud Darwish.
Between the words I hid tears that pushed against my eye.
Poets are the world’s champions in weeping. It’s a fucked-up sentence, I know,
But my high-school teacher repeated it so many times
That I can’t get it out of my mind.
The most beautiful poem in the world was shown to me by Natasha, the woman that Ahmad,
The dentist, brought back from his studies at Moscow University.
“The seagull,” She translated for me, “Is God’s bikini.”
It was written by some Russian. His name is Andrei Voznesensky.
I hope I did not confuse the name,
But that’s how I want it too:
First to fly,
Then to be the first poet to swim in the clouds,
And then like that Russian, after one line,
To fall in love with silence.

Translation: Juky Winfield



Hemi Rudner sings Ronny Someck's poem 'Solo'.
Music: Hai Meirzadh
Read the poem > here



David Barbi sings Ronny Someck ' poem 'Tribes'.
Read the poem > here



La Bouche

La bouche comme la porte de l'écurie
s'ouvre d'un coup de pied
du cheval-parole.
"Dia", je crie à l'amour,
"dia, dia" et il échevelle sa crinière
et ballotte sur son dos le fardeau de feu
volé aux bûchers du chemin.

Traduction: Marlena Braester



I am a lot of Don Quixotes

I am a lot of Don Quixotes.
Don Quixote who with one eye sees how Don Quixote
draws with the tip of his fingers a woman’s head
on the wall built by Don Quixote from his imagination.
The imagination fantasizes about a horse and receives a donkey.
The donkey imagines the Messiah and gets the brush of wings
of the windmills.
The wind brushes the roofs of houses,
is sheared by the drawing out of a word
And slams the window shutters where Dulcinea gazes.
Don Quixote who in his blood steers her
to the Don Quixote of the lips.
There she takes off her dress and dissolves
like a kiss.

Translation: Karen Alkalay-Gut


On the Way to Arad

Berry Sakharov sings Ronny Someck's poem 'On the Way to Arad'.
Read the poem > here




The blackbird’s beak yellows in fear
when the sun police signals the fallen leaves.
The blackbird’s caw slices the air
like a razor, vibrates a bra
where nests the nipples of a girl
coming to steal a forest hour.

Two Blackbirds

Two blackbirds on a clothesline.
Their tails are raised like flags
while their beaks snoop
inside a woman’s panties.
If a stocking were hanging there
they would teach it to pleasure
the foot with one black feather.

Translation: Moshe Dor and Barbara Goldberg



Asphalt. Nostalgia Poem

And asphalt is a stitch in the land’s garment
a feeling distinguishing between heeltap,
motorcycles of the dark, or a bare foot.
And tonight, the memory of her wet lashes
after showering is similar to the bloych of crows
painted above the eyelid in the asphalt glare.

Translation: Gabriel Levin



Four Poets in the Time-Management Workshop

Someone voiced regret that her laundry
didn’t have suicidal thoughts.
“It would save me time
if it would just hang itself.”
The second stored coal
In the mines of her eyes.
The third thought we should wrap
the hands of the clock in leopard skin
And wait each minute for the roar.

The fourth said, “I’m the poet of tomorrow.”
They answered, “Let’s talk about that the day after.”

Translation: Karen Alkalay-Gut



Testifying to Beauty

The most beautiful girl in the world used the pad of her finger to
wipe the dust off the label of a bottle in a wine shop in Bordeaux.
The fan of this movement is taught at archaeology schools,
when eyes open wide to identify the year of Creation.
Inside the bottles all traces of the hand that squeezed the grapes
have vanished and from the grapes the scent
of the shady roofs of the vine leaves has been forgotten. In the leaves
nostalgia has shut down the wind turbines of the grains of sand, and the sand
no longer covers the roots that crept through the earth like snakes
that shed their skin every season.
And the girl? Nine months, I guess from the brushstrokes on her body,
nine months Leonardo da Vinci sat between
her mother’s legs and painted

Translation: Vivian Eden



Uncle Salim

In the days when there was respect for train tickets
and they were printed on no less than green cardboard,
uncle Salim would produce from his jacket pocket
a little stack he’d gathered at the Haifa Station
and helped us to imagine a steering wheel as wide
As the width between our hands.
We closed one eye, held the hole in the ticket close
for a second, and saw through it
a red tie sharp as a sword, that he wore
to diminish the shame of the rail workers’ khaki.
Then he would breathe in the memory
of the locomotive of another country,
and the cars full of stories from the Tigris and Euphrates,
they would breathe air cleaner than the moth ball atmosphere,
that clung to the suitcases of memory of the new immigrants.

“The train to Eden,” he heard
before he died,
“Leaves in three minutes,”
just in time to load the cars
with the 99 years of his life,
The top hat he loved to move from side to side
and the leftover applause
he always saved for the voice of Abdel Al-Wahab.

Translation: Karen Alkalay-Gut



Abraham on the Way to the Akeda

The dynamite belt was ticking
On his terrified body
And from the wells of his eyes screwed into him
That very morning, there dripped
Farewell tears for Isaac.
Soon there's the mountain, the altar
And cotton-wool faces of the angels.
Luckily, a minute before the blast
God reminded him that there is
A God.

Translation: Robert Manaster & Hana Inbar




In Memory of Itzhak Zohar

To save his life in that war,
He sewed for the SS officers -
the very boots that kicked him.
"Look," he once showed me his hands,
and I thought he wanted me to admire
the tough skin of a craftsman,
"Look," he almost wept, "with these fingers
I would have strangled them, but every boot I made
saved me a brother. "

He never stopped hammering,
and if they’d given him a chair at the Academy of Language,
the nails would have had names like
Hitler, Eichmann or Mengele.
His pleasure would grow as he smashed their heads
and bent down their backs
until their complete surrender
into the darkness of soles.

Oh Revenge, just because of this tale
it’s possible sometimes to fall in love with you.

Translation: Karen Alkalay-Gut