Poems in English


Downstairs, from heavenly Aleppo

Aleppo, I, Matityaho Ibn Shifra, your old daughter, a grandson of your Arab-Jews, mourn the erasure of your city of poetry

Aleppo, how did they forget to save your libraries

Aleppo, was it not fireworks that lit the skies of the Arab spring? Or were the night stars shining all night long

Aleppo, tell me who is the devil that drops explosive barrels upon your residents, and thinks that in this way — they will write his name in love

Aleppo, will you listen to the old, weeping Iraqi who lives inside of me? Here, at the gates of our European towns, stand thousands of your sons and daughters, standing with keys to lost homes, waiting to enter

Aleppo, rich poems will flourish in your botanic gardens; Free, we will walk among your Middle Eastern shifting sand-novel-dunes; freedom will be tattooed on our children’s hands, red words of prayer will spread in the wind

Aleppo, torn poetry books fly in the wind; your children’s memory squashed beneath the rubble

Aleppo, the few who read your heart’s beating poems fighting with those who don’t know shit about the little girl who dances while she writes a love letter to her mom

Aleppo, your daughters, are the new Jews, who are exiled between the libraries of the world, and inside their headphones you can hear the compassionate womb of the Oud

Aleppo, we will not fight with weapons that lead to victory. Nope. We will put our hopes in the gentle candle wax and surrender to mountains of words where the sweet snow melts into rivers; where love springs out

Aleppo, tell us again how we can raise neighborhoods of believers and atheists; among the alters who scattered our souls

Aleppo, your stories will come back to my ears, like a child who sits on his grandmother’s knees

January, 2017. The Poem was first published on 972magazine

Words of Departure

This poem will soon collapse


I left the life of guaranties

To find a new life in Berlin

I speak broken English, Broken German, Broken Hebrew, Five Shekels a Euro

I disconnected my Jewish phone

I said goodbye to my mom

My books

My life’s beloved



Hebrew letters

My friends


Here is the poem in three translations


The cause of my death: too many love songs

Come with me, but don’t give me your hand

On our right there is Beirut

On our left there is Cairo

Behind us -Amman

In front us – Ramallah

And where are we?

And now give me your hand and let’s travel far away from Hebrew poetry.

This poem was first published on My fifth poetry book – Last Tango In Berlin


An Arab-Jew in Berlin

I ask fewer questions
And lose myself more in the jazz of Berlin
Flowing from the many Diasporas
At night I climb through women’s windows
In the morning I labor
And on Sabbath with holy words
I talk to myself in Hebrew, with no country
I talk to others in another tongue, with no country
I miss my father’s memorial
And recall him in every word
I don’t know where I come from or where I’m going
But even strangeness has a birthday
And I’ll wake in your arms
And between your thighs
Like a child

(From: Mati Shemoelof, “Last tango in Berlin”, Booxilla, 2014)



Why don’t I write Israeli Love Songs

To Amiri Baraka

First bring me back my history
And then my textbooks
And don’t tell me my poem is a political manifesto
When you haven’t got a clue ‘bout your wrongs. So here is a lead:
I want compensation from the National Bank of Israel
For the Palestinians, the Mizrachim, the Women, the Gays and the Lesbians
For every comment, transit-camp, closed military zone
Disappearance, disfigurement.
I want you to open the poetry safe
And give back the land to those you took from
And compensate for a horrible occupation
I will wait by the national bank of Israel,
Outside the window of the National Insurance Institute,
Under the cars of the treasury Department
Until you aptly compensate for all the distilled racism
And only then, when the children of children of the compensated ones
Will study in university, in an equal society
Only then will I be willing to write Israeli love songs.

The translation was first published on “Fusion” Magazine – Big Bridge #15, Spring, 2011 >>>


In an Entire Ruined Village and at the Jaffa Expulsion

Listen my mother
A satisfied white rat
Convinced the contractor
To dine with the supervisor
To feed the politician
To sleep with the judge
And to flatten the history of the people.A great rat, mom, I swear I saw
her chewing on the ruins
hungrily, and her excrement is the culture
that eats and can never be filled.And why am I telling you this, O mother,
Maybe because I feel like it can’t go on this way
We have to stand together
In front of the rat and scream the pain of the bitesYou’re right mom,
We aren’t rats
But the marks on the body
The ruin in the eyes
Have already passed to my daughter
Who asks how it is that we
Didn’t do anything.
Translated from the Hebrew by Chana Morgenstern
Translation published in Zeek magazine page 18 > LINK

Ballad of the Middle of the Twenty First Century

(with thanks to Serge Gainsbourg and Danny Blair Shwed Jones Grossman for the inspiration)I peek at her white body and at that other one standing beside her,her body shrivels from him, and her spirit sings a gentle song versed by her fancy.So, the Botticelli painting stands in my bathroomthe orange with the black stains of mold.Her colors don’t fade,the light shatters on her body,only her clothes shrivel

and get wet on the old floor tiles.

I look at her and him from afar

like a grownup peeking into his childhood,

and my mind captures photos with a rare camera

that you can’t buy

despite all the advanced technology of the age.

The bathroom colors the painting

with wet orange, and that other one cowers from the holy

water, under the mold.

On the walls little angels and fairies,

dance around her only.

After washing her hair,

she’s busy drying

while that other one

chews the fat

with her shadow.

The smell of her hair knocks me down from the peeking stance,

that other comes right over to see where the racket came from

and then right in front of my eyes, from my hiding place,

his goat’s feet come into view with the terrible smell.

The movements of her towel are so gentle,

that the bathtub itself wants to get up and make love to her

without penetration, just a sequence of touch after touch

stringing together a pleasantperverse feeling.

I look at her white body and at that other one standing next to her

I get hard from her and from him.

And this is the angel of death

that is competing with me for her love

and I have no way to beat him

but to die at her feet

and wait

for her to come to me

and my arms to be weaved into hers.

This poem was published first on Scar Minimizer (Tel-Aviv: Gwanim Publishers, 2001) and then on “Märchenland: Die beteiligten Autoren setzten sich mit den Märchen der Gebrüder Grimm auseinander, brachten ihre prosaische Form auf eine lyrische Ebene und begaben sich in die mitunter ambivalenten Bereiche des kulturellen Gedächtnisses in Deutschland und Israel.”


Born in another time

Murderous dictatorship
Drowning me
that does not informed on the birth forecasts

And nobody will save you on the new race coast
so I’m running to your static past
but there I discover dynamic dictator
Generals sits in the pit along with the political language

And who will save the theological poetry
Here come the prophetic gangs of racist letters
Praying for the aid of our corpses


They drove out our hope

They drove out our hope, and threw my children into the street

They drove out our hope, and we paid the price

They drove out our hope, for a “green” forest

They drove out our hope, and left no medicine for my sick father and mother

They drove out our hope, and the shame, they even took the shame

They drove out our hope, and the mayor said: “Communists, parasites” and built another luxury tower

They drove out our hope, and just bought a white dog a new kennel

They drove out our hope, and threw us out into the cold

They drove out our hope; another ship sank in the blood

They drove out our hope, while the Captain celebrated and perforates the lifeboats

They drove out our hope, it’s colder outside than last year

They drove out our hope, and a drug addict lost his home and his song

They drove out our hope, with bullshit, drugs, and lies to the masses

They drove out our hope, and told us that salvation would come but instead they tortured us

They drove out our hope, with police threats, brutal arrests, and without police tags

They drove out our hope, and it’s hard to understand those who celebrate

They drove out our hope, they opened my eyes

They drove out our hope, they took away my poetry

They drove out our hope, they fed my lice

They drove out our hope, they took away my guardian angels

They drove out our hope, but you’re tired and don’t want to suffer social pains

They drove out our hope, and threw our children into the street

They drove out our hope, but the truth refuses to leave

They drove out our hope, but they can’t expel our hopes

They drove out our hope but hope stayed with us

(thanks to Moriel Rotman and Rachel Harris for thier help) 

My deceased father

The stamps have collected the final days

of my father unto countries where

he never traveled.

He laid them in a bowl of his soul’s water

and peeled away the envelopes of neglect

of the lower-class neighborhoods of the city of Haifa,

But the octopus-like hands of the government authorities

do not loosen their grip on the stamp

and the black ink persists like the mark of


(“Poetry Between Hazaz and Shemoelof”, 2006)


I wish I could return between the knives of time

Hadar neighborhood in Haifa awaited my grandfather in a worn-out wedding dress

and in honor of his retirement granted him two crumbling backgammon dice,

and poured him a glass of arak

and my grandmother told me how she sat in the roofless bus station, of the Eye without the Sea neighborhood,

and worried, but he never returned from there the way he left.

The past has its own time.

The time has its own past.

Allah be with you, grandpa Shlomo.

(“Poetry Between Hazaz and Shemoelof”, 2006)


Why there is no (re)union in reunions or, the cabin of our decline

A memory of trees dancing between the lotus flowers that the goldfish suffocate

In the grove that stretches back to the thorny high school days in a bug’s dance of incomprehensible moves.

Who dropped to the quiet rocky ground duck-like in their origins and awkward in their movements?

Who touched the angry sky with kittenish clouds?

Not you Ehud Banai, because there is no bonfire here and even the word, burning in a memory with no memory, dissolves.

Dust-mote wars and twigs dropping off bored hornet’s nests selling venom as if it was honey

and before them the children are quiet, silenced by their lack of imagination.

Was it my fault the laundry was colored red?

Devouring sunbeams from pebbles of scalded tea

Facing the passion of one thousand five hundred flies disturbed in the night of the sunflower eaters.

Do not get close to snort all the dream dust, you pair of mothers fucking between silken clamps.

A surrogate stagehand once again forgets to inform the goddesses of the East that the creation of the crucified She ended a long time ago, during high school in Haifa.

(“Apetite for Hugner”, 2013, fortcoming)


Beautiful terrorist

My lovely terrorist,

Don’t be afraid of the Jewish people.

I will serve you black coffee.

I will bring you a plate of stuffed cookies.

My terrorist, play me the music you download from the internet

and we will watch movies together.

You are my terrorist.

Terrorist you are my sister.

My sister you are a terrorist.

Come and let’s study together the books of spoken Iraqi that I received from Gal in Haifa.

Dear terrorist, you are so tired, perhaps rest a little on the bed.

We’ll go to the garden and harvest the giant mint bush that spread and overran the entire garden since ’77.

How much sugar do you take?

Shall I leave the tea bag in the cup?

Now before we part with the lovely Jewish blessing: See You Again

And a thousand blessings on your eyes,

We will watch in a long breath for an even longer breath.

May Allah give you health and strength.

 (“Apetite for Hugner”, 2013, fortcoming”)

This poems were first published on Anisa Eskar art catalog (2013) / HAIFA MUSEUM OF ART


And It Is Not A Quotation, It Is a Burning Sign On My Neck


תמונהThe time has come to say the oppression isn’t finished

The land is not Middle-Eastern

The fury compels to write an illiterate poem

Black in the midst of white tunnels

Words torn apart in some unknown prison

Stand united and revolt the language

We stood up

In the ruins of the racist words that surrounded us

In transit-camps that weren’t vowelized or dotted

We are the slaves of Homer and the maids of Bialik[1]

We Call Mizrahit[2] against and over, a type of a

T h i r d option for poetry

[1] Bialik was one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew poets and came to be recognized as Israel’s national poet.

[2]Mizrahit – Sepharadic or Mizrahi Jews are Jews of Middle-Eastern descent whose families in most cases immigrated to Israel from Arab countries. They form about half of the Israeli Jewish population. The painful reality this anthology deals with is the division within Israeli society between Ashkenazi Jews (of Eastern European descent) and Mizrahis.

This reality often goes unnoticed by outside observers, who naturally focus on the more violent aspects of Israeli political reality and the division Jew/non-Jew which the Israeli state draws. In fact, in the mainstream of Israeli discourse there has long been a systematic avoidance/denial of this division, maintaining – as is perhaps “demanded” by the core of Zionist ideology and its ongoing nation-building project – that the Jews are a distinct people and that Israeli Jews have a unified ethnicity and a shared history. Indeed, the mere notion of an Arab Jew, as some Mizrahis identify today themselves, is close to unthinkable in most mainstream media and consciousness. But the divide is not painful simply because it is denied. There is a history of political, economic and cultural oppression of Mizrahis and, as relatively recent scholarship establishes clearly, much of these elements are present to this day



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