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 life’s beloved
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.
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
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
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
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.
Born in another time
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)
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
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
We Call Mizrahit against and over, a type of a
T h i r d option for poetry
 Bialik was one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew poets and came to be recognized as Israel’s national poet.
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