The cause of my death: too many love songs

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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 the Levant Notebook (It will appear in my fourth fortcomning poetry book).

Listen to me reading another poem in Hebrew

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My deceased father | I wish I could return between the knives of time | Why there is no (re)union in reunions or, the cabin of our decline

The tree of life, by mati shemoelof, personal collection, 2003
The tree of life, by mati shemoelof, personal collection, 2003

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

Cain.

(“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

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I was interviewed by The known Journalist Petar Volgin Bulgarian Radio about culture and protest in Israel after July 2011.

Shabbat Shalom!

Where would we be without poetry?

4.2.2013
The Israeli Poets’ Association

In the U.S., there is a wonderful tradition. Each year, the administration chooses a poet laureate, whose main job is to bring poetry closer to the hearts of the American people. He or she receives a salary and even an office in the Library of Congress.

The Israeli Poets’ Association was established in 2011, and seeks to bring Hebrew poetry to the broader public. In 2012, the association began collecting signatures on a petition to make Hebrew poetry a central subject of study during the coming school year. This step could lead to an understanding of the central role poetry and culture play in our society. We must not abandon culture to market forces. Rather, we must be proactive in promoting it, as do our counterparts in the West.

As part of the call by poets to declare this the Year of Israeli Poetry, they wrote: “Poetry is a valuable and essential cultural treasure … by way of this initiative, it will be possible to deepen and diversify the exposure of youth and students in the State of Israel to their national poetry, including educational activities that are not necessarily the standard classroom fare.”

The call for a Year of Israeli Poetry is intended to restore this forgotten art form to the center of our public life. It will help give us access to new voices in the culture. Poetry was the spearhead of Israel’s multicultural pioneer society a century ago, and rose again during the social protests of 2011. Those who had their finger on the pulse of newly formed poetry groups, nascent journals and evenings of song and poetry on the outskirts of cities, had an inkling of what was to come. Poetry is the wellspring of imagination in Israeli society.

The Israeli education system’s teaching of poetry is anachronistic and abbreviated. Students are required to memorize poems by old-time national poets, but are rarely exposed to young, subversive and lively practitioners of the art. As a writing workshop instructor, I know how to teach poetry and turn it into a real tool for social change. The initiative to spotlight poetry will require that the Education Ministry bring poets into all schools, to read their poems in new ways in light of students’ experiences.

In the family of nations, Israel is judged through its culture. Each year we wait to see if any Israeli films have been nominated for the Oscars. Poets themselves must stop being so arcane and reclaim their place as primary constructors of culture. The Poets‘ Association proposal for a Year of Israeli Poetry will supplement the few existing tools that currently expose Israelis to poetry, such as the Sapir Prize for Poetry, the recently passed Poetry Law, annual subsidies for poets and the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry.

Today, poetry in Israel is at a nadir. Publishers almost never take on poetry manuscripts, due to their almost negligible commercial value. But the understanding and knowledge to be gained from poetry are immense, and many artists continue to publish their works independently, via the Internet, using new platforms such as Indibook and social networks.

Let us revive this country’s commitment to culture, citizenship and our spiritual patrimony. The Education Ministry must seriously address the new initiative by the Poets’ Association, as part of a variety of actions that will resuscitate poetry in Israeli society.

This op-ed was first published on Israel Hayom

Listen to me as I read my full third poetry book: “Why don't I write Israeli love songs” (Hebrew I-cast version)
Listen to me as I read my full third poetry book: “Why don’t I write Israeli love songs” (Hebrew I-cast version)