Anthology of contemporary Hebrew poetry IV


A seed that was sown in the sand, waits years for the rain


This poem will be a poem of another century, not different from this one.
This poem will be securely concealed under heaps of words, until

between the last sand grains of the hourglass,
like a ship inside a bottle, it will be seen, this poem:

the poem that will speak of innocence. And common people that ostensibly
were shaped by time, like tardy gods,

will listen to it for no reason that wasn’t there before,
rise their backs like snakes

from the junk, and there won’t be anywhere else
to hurry from, and it won’t have an end

different from its beginning. It won’t be rich
and won’t be poor. It won’t bother anymore to promise

and keep or carry out its utterances
and won’t scrimp, or sail there from here.

This poem, if it will speak to you, woman, it won’t call you
muse-babe, and won’t lie with you like its fathers;
or if to you, man, it won’t kneel or kill, won’t apply makeup
and won’t take off its words and flesh, as it has not has not –

what. Maybe now I’ll call it here, the bad poem
of the century: here, sick with health it barely walks

drags its legs in the viscous current of thoughts of the time
or is stopped to show papers and to have its trivia counted

with arithmetical beads. The inventory: flowers and staples,
corpses (yes, no worry), tall glasses. After staples –

also butterflies, and many footprints and other hooks and shelves
for the arguments of scholarly criticism, and also just to fool around, teeth

against teeth, in the anarchic smiles of a chameleon that doesn’t know
its colours have long since turned into a parable. Or in incomprehensible tranquillity

to try someone else’s luck in games of
to and fro that have no goal other than, let’s say,

a bit of fun the length of a line. Spread orange on the blue
of evening sky: now, plaster a little cloud. Climb

on it, see below: sea of sea, sand of sand.
Or fingers. Ten jointed worms

move in inexplicable charm. Now they encircle
a ball whose circle is faulty, wonderful, fleshy, further more,

you may say a word (it’s a fruit, it’s called
a peach). And these words their taste is full of the taste of

its being, of a tone that accompanies the sight with wonder
and not with a thought-slamming sound. And this is the poem:

it sings, let’s say, to the tar that stuck to the foot on the shore,
to plastic bottles, to its own words. It

only sees: black atop white, transparent, or grainy.
It is not less naked than you. Also no more. Only in this exactness

that has no measure, but by the curves of a female-dog,
a pot of cyclamens, or a hair strand on a bathtub railing.

The creatures here don’t want to know. The creatures
there, that only want, are, for now, a possibility

of becoming the creatures that are here, of becoming this antiquity
that has nothing to say other than me, me, without limit

without you. A dog lies on a step in the afternoon
sun, and does not distinguish itself from the flies.

Rain. He’s torn from himself outward


You bite, swallow, actually crack, line by line
in front of this screen, spit the spaces as if they are

a Hungarian sound track. And it’s OK with me, because it’s OK
with you: to reside between the walls, to be covered by them and move

into a fetal rhythm: eat and drink, fill up a gas tank,
order groceries, read poems, sleep. Faster:

an audio-visual commercial slogan, video clips,
a microwave, peeping booths at a porno movie. Faster:
capsules, transfusion, electrodes. Faster:
don’t be born. You are not and you don’t have an existence now
outside this poem. It doesn’t begin, and it doesn’t end
in a page, a line or a comma. This period is a point

that floats in infinite space just by distancing a distant gaze. Come closer now see, there are clouds on it, orange on the blue of evening sky,

sea of sea, sand of sand, and people walking,
sitting, lying, swimming or making love. Choose for yourself

a place and time. Where are you? Now you are in one interior
of a point of view. Perhaps you’d like to be born? Now

is the time that is termed in this here by a number name:
twenty second of the first, one thousand nine-hundred and ninety-five,

twelve thirty, noon, Sunday. And good that you came.
Tomorrow I’ll write the poem in which you’ll reside. Here: this home*
– solely yours. And its location, size, colours and furniture
as the course of your gaze (refer to the above entry “period”), and also its windows

face a home or homes in the outskirts of the poem, in its navel or above it:
behold its trees pass by, its inhabitants, cafes, and its flying saucers,
cavalry, elephants, parchments, from which the sea has just withdrawn,
they all flicker between there-is and there-isn’t, between a gaze and its reduction,

between to be and me, between “this” and its names, (me
me and more me: a pot of cyclamens, a hair strand on a railing

of a bathtub, etc.). So go out and see: this poem, forsaken
to meaningless murmurs, I and it have nothing but

what is between here and I am. (This is not an ending line, here –
I wrote another one). Now –

His inside gropes the things, turns to outside


Come sit down, see: houses return to their places
slowly. The frost is lit on the windowpane. One more day.

Come sit down. Coffee or tea? sugar, milk? That’s the way it is:
hard boiled egg or sunny side up. Yogurt or sour cream. Jam or honey.

This life, impossible with it
and impossible without: morning or evening, you, man or woman,

cold or hot – come sit down. What else is new? The sea and the sand
sink into each other, and there’s no lifesaver, and no one who interrupts,

and I look at you, holding broken boards
and there isn’t even a ship, and the description of the situation is not definite,

and both of us are cut in the same sentence, and carry it further,
each one for himself. Come sit down,

say: one or many. Slavery or freedom. Me
or you. Love or. How could you know. Fear.

Only in absentmindedness, when we don’t have a shore
and no footprints, and there’s a sound to the words and there isn’t,

and they mark not the pictures, but what has gaped
between them and is gone, and never was. Come sit down.

Tomato, cucumber, green onion, cream cheese,
slices of kummel bread, margarine, salt.

Even if you’ll say: wait, you are dreaming – even if I’ll check
my place and deeds, what will change?

In fact, I’m sitting in front of the computer now. In fact
I am doing this – from the beginning, everything. In fact

you are now sitting in front of a page, you are hungry to touch the . . .
like me. In fact at this very moment, you touch

from inside out, devour the world that doesn’t stop
spilling out from you: orange on the blue of morning sky, frost

burning on the windowpane, cup of tea – whatever
you chose now and was. So precisely this way,

choose also now: me for example,
one breakfast, one more day. Here.

Tendril gropes / coils / on a groping tendril


Already late to return from here, also dangerous to stop what
we had said and thereupon was, in which are such deeds.

Take what you’ll take. A liqueur glass, a cigarette, a TV,
or any alibi you’d want (if you don’t mind, I

will continue to write: inside of a thigh, texture of lips, one palm
gathering a handful of a convex reality, a nipple in its middle). True,
this poem repeats what is impossible to repeat
and as from a door in a desert, impossible to exit

without meeting it outside. Behold: roads and sidewalks,
airports and seaports, communication satellites. Behold: outer

space from “here”, it’s also in such a poem
another relative point, like any other thing;

and not only it, every “there” is already here: window
gapes toward a window, and memories –

devour the whole room: sea shore, palm trees, her boyish body
is stooped over the notebook, her head inclined and her hair, black, smooth, falls

and covers the universe. Lips, inside of a thigh, breasts
that sprout now, a Japanese nose, buttocks.

The one who said and was this order – has no fear, or at least
has forgetfulness, while each moment his gaze sprouts on the sights.

I’ll write it now: I’ll let it disappear word by word
and not be so much; and each line will begin and end

like a landing of a fly in a room of mirrors. And anew:
sea of sea, sand of sand. Look and create them,

hold them for a moment between the boundaries that wander,
fix them in letters like an orderly cry

to say what there isn’t, wasn’t, won’t be,
and don’t bother more than that. Now let go. And again –

When he knows he’s crawling, the slough occurs on its own


Hold a world. A cigarette, a glass, lips,
the weight of your limbs on the chair’s plank, my face, your face,

autumn leaves on the sidewalk, a lunch bag, warm smell
and fingers that cover you before the day is turned off.

Now, for a moment don’t hold. Let go. Let them expand

and populate what’s inside you, without being so much a world,

without placing the green on the leaves or on
the memory of a palm tree, at the sea shore (near
that boyish body, stooping over a notebook).
Let the leaves mix with the sidewalk, to repose,

to be not “leaves” at all, nor “a cigarette”, “a glass”
“lips”. To expand in you like excitement

like a sea on a shore. When they’re already like this, inside you,
turn them off, and on again. Turn off, turn on,

off-on, and again. Now
do the same thing with the world in which you are “you”,

a thing of the things. Peek at it sailing in the expanse
of a body, turn-off-turn-on-turn-off and see

from what you are. All this is nothing but
a parable’s moral. We will continue flickering, and in a binary rhythm
we’ll continue to say nothing to anyone who asks –
I, you, etc. And why not, let’s create a new parable:

here, we created this outside. This orange
on the blue, the ” insult”, the “hope”, what

quivers between us, between there-is and there-isn’t, between
this and that. Let’s call it.

Hand on hand. (What broke out – touches)


You say: to be penetrated, to penetrate. Sandsea, seasand,
the verges of the middle. Words fall between us

like something broken. Listen, I love you.
But you, having it only your way, exist, exist, exist.

You are not being paid for this, and still,
Mr. Other and Mrs., you stroll on the street, as if

you’re only a name and you have no navel. I
act like you, repeat the movements

which you repeat. Tell me, reflection –
I hurl another stone at you – is there anyone more actual than me?

I say seasand, sandsea. Like something
broken: a myriad of faces, legs and hands, like something

that’s “there”. So enough. Come back to me. I’ll let you go
as often as you like.

Now there’s no longer a difference between us, except this poem
where a bit of a world resides. There’s also another possibility,

and not really different: here, you don’t go at all
you don’t stop coming for a moment. I open

a mirror and turn its pages in front of what has already been
written above: the sadness that you are, sad in front of the blue of evening sky,

the anger, the insult, the longing that sucks blue from your chest,
or happiness that suddenly spills in front of the blue of that evening sky,

it’s a voice that accompanies what my gaze now
sees or doesn’t see. And also you –

I see world by world, now by now, one
and yet another one. In this poem, that stumbles from page

to page, you peek and flicker between letter and letter
and vanish-present in all the centimeters, that ostensibly only keep silent here –

and don’t stop coming, and not really coming. So enough, please,
don’t hide everywhere, talk to me all at once.

What touches, has a face


Here, I sit on a bench in the park and bask in the sun.
And next to me, as in a park, an old lady is sitting. The body

only asks to return to the beginning, to the first performance,
that you have already seen over and over again in lesser versions.

Then – you remember – we cried from the light, and the world was the centre,
like an underground central train station. Afterwards were only

faltering explanations, poems maddened by a repetitive yearning,
misunderstood apologies, and letters

that didn’t solve a thing. People tired quickly, and hastened to those who
had already trusted in their existence. Like me and you

they believed in habit without thinking about it, wore it
like a snake’s skin, every morning. I asked how they were,

shook their hands (“hello”), we looked at one another
from above or below in the same pain. In the books was written

the same thing more or less, though in them time was different, full of teeth,
biting the back of this time, that in a world wore the world.
There were things without time at all: squares on a dress in the wind,
skin under fingers or sun, a wound that healed and disappeared,

purple briar buttons, an electric wire cutting
the window in two, the fluttering of a curtain in the morning,

or a hiding place among tall grass –
those things taught me something else, that everyone knows. You can

ignore it by simple means, as with a countenance “how are you”,
“son of a bitch”, “I deem that” etc.; but time is pursued,

and thus exists. Along a path that hasn’t been weeded the house turns
into a back yard, into balding grass and a bra on a line,

and “we’ve seen it before” fills up the sights with hallucinations,
that earlier were called a dream. The way out of the house

passes through dunghills of images of existence, and out of them
countless arms of face-beggars extend

toward you in a thinning howl: see me, see me and believe in me,
I’m your son that you loved, take me to you, take –

and be redeemed. I cry with them out of stupidity, cry
and don’t look back, don’t look back. At night –

they greet your other faces hungrier; you shut
the dictionary in which “life” is only plural,* open a book,

a fridge, a bottle, a T.V. But despite everything
they’re here – they come out of the freezer like a genie from a bottle

and hop into the screen. You shut your eyes and let go. Let them do to you.
And already the stage lights, a curtain rises fold by fold (or rather

curtain by curtain), a forest of eyes, sounds and your-body in front of you
that appears from nowhere, rolls from inside the stomach, and leaves you no I

beyond itself. You go down to the river on stone stairs,
strip naked, still dancing. Two brownish youths

splash water on a buffalo until it yields to immerse. A hawk dives into
a reflection of a banyan tree, inside the net that was laid here, so it seems,

by a fisherman; outside a parked car’s alarm goes up and down.
You extricate yourself from the blanket, still full of eyes, you gather your body

and drag your feet to the shower, like a recurring dream. Good morning,
I say, and take you out slowly slowly

from the mirror to the towel, that brings you back further
into this body, and dresses you with a face. You

begin to use a palate, a tongue, a throat, lips, and extricate from there
a hoarse sound that tests the air: “I –”

A face weaned from being a mouth


What have I to do with it, this poem – now, as my gaze lingers
for one more moment after, or in between, as words haven’t

yet separated from the world; and only desire stands
between its beginning and end, between what is inside it

and what’s not. Since this poem has no subject, just like
you or me,

since this poem has no subject, but only a predicate,
and all the rest remains without being more present

than a spot of light after a gaze at the sun, only movement
is the subject here; the poem rests upon it. And all the other things

are drawn, it seems, from space impressions, that were indicated, it appears, in the hight of movement’s flight: from here it’s a tree, from here onwards

the scent of a tree, from here the roots are not earth. Up to here
a leaf (a divided green surface, its margins dented, flawed

by a brown stain or two), now another line: it’s the petiole,
and soon – a branch. Inside there’s water, and outside there’s water

whose names are a lake or rain. Outside there’s light, it’s called a day;
inside it’s something else, which concerns photosynthesis, and behind –

it’s a shadow. And it’s wonderful, because then one can say: “here is an oak”,
“here is my neighbour, Michelle”, and even more:

“hi, I missed you”, “go to hell!” “where
were you all this time?”, but no tree

grows less than the world though withers as the world does,
or is also registered as “tree” inside the “world” inventory.

So let’s keep a distance as distance: the hand that is between me and you
is remembrance and forgetfulness of someone that has no outside.

The mouth that suckled, is the mouth that nurses in a howl


No matter where you’ll look it’s here. “This poem” is returning home
from everywhere to everywhere, and no place is vacant of it –

crossing lands in stormy water, ascending air to a never-ending sky
forgetting how your face looks, until it suddenly rises from the sights,

like memory; you sit inside, early early in the morning,
and cannot but see:

from the fog, a fig tree grows in the old water pit,
and the grass is tall and moist, still line to line, still green to the touch.

And still, what does one say to a tree when its bark touches my cheek
and it has no visible beginning. All this conversation

is one word that contains no name, and the faded remains and only remains;
where do you end, and where anew and again

you begin. Where does it happen, where did it happen,
and why does it hurt, and what is it that hurts, and what,

after all, brought us our faces back?
Sheep tore off and chewed above. Light examined palms of leaves. Time

returned to the distance. And again, “This poem . . .” never mind,
never mind.

In water he is a sea anemone. Extend arms of a flower, carnivore.


And yet we are here, equipped with all. Feet,
back, bicep, eye, ear, nose, tongue and skin; we are here:

faces and interiors, neighbours, cities, nations. We are here,
breathing, living. And what is learnt from this?

Some say, that life is its own continuation opposite another possibility,
some say – conquest; some stretch an equal sign

between the life and its absence, and some say that life
was given to us for the service of those whose

lives are not a life. I say: you.
And this can be easily explained: again the night wraps

the sights. At home lamps are lit. Also in the light there’s no glance
except that from the mirror, nothing but what sees me

seeing it; and it bears no relief but longing, and no death
but life. And I take out from the warm and from the cold, the night wraps,

and I long for the one who sees me through touching,
and I don’t remember a thing. Only this.

Drowning, he breathes living water


My Narcissus, in the end you got used to it. You sprouted gills
on the sides of your neck, and sliding down down,

you sprawled among stems and water. And the echo became a wave
and the reflection a place, and you looked and looked and looked

toward the skyline of water and again
jumped – out, to me.

And the thunder returned to be the silence, the water – to be a screen,
the eye – to marble. You returned to be me.

And the echo became a voice, and the reflection a face,
and you were relieved.

sit down.

Published 2 November 1999
Original in Hebrew
Translated by Helena Berg
First published by Helicon

Contributed by Helicon © Amir Or / Helena Berg / Helicon / Eurozine


Published in

Share article


Subscribe to know what’s worth thinking about.