Oh the ache of it


Oh the ache of it…
and the crying out loud of it
carrying bits and pieces of me to burial
in this town that has been my refuge and inspiration
all my life…
and wasn’t it a heartache too
when first it started… not much more than nostalgia
just old glasses then… that were too dear, it seemed
after years on my nose
straightening out my distorted vision of reality
and so they were buried tenderly in the park
by the roses…
but the years go by,
and with the years…
it’s no longer symbolic gestures
but pieces of me… really…
that fall by the wayside…
and going into town…
on such a mission
that same town that provided harmonies
for aspirations and exhilarations…
which were easily fueled by a few pints
and the strumming of chords
on a cheap guitar
with a taste of whiskey here and there
and the taste of adventure…
sometimes a drum,
or fingers clapping on the back of a chair
enough to remind us, that we were a part
of the fermentation all around …


oh, how strong were our hearts then
how exuberant our lives…
now, in pain, through the same streets
that have known all the variations
of the howling winds,
the highs and lows…


and it is no surprise to my weary soul…
that I’d find the beggars
and the street musicians
to give me solace on this cold winter day
to sing me songs as I went about my way…
down this mild pedestrian street
that once carried my much younger feet


sometimes to the movie house at the intersection,
were they the same stores then, and businesses squeezed in
between restaurants, and the smell of hot Turkish coffee…
children running this way and that with messages,
or bringing a missing part for daddy
three wheeled motorcycles sweating diesel oil
as they pulled their wares up the hill
the smell of the diesel oil intermingling with that of fresh bread
from the bakery, my earliest memories of Jerusalem
before each aspect of my home town was given
its right and logical place in the new order of things…
before the center of town was given a heart transplant
to a weather proof insular commercial mall
with magnetic gates to protect the citizens
from still another terror attack


no beggars lying there on the pavement floor…
no individual cigarettes sold by the hotel door…
no, they’ve got an escalator there that never stops…
going up or going down… without a sound
no squeaky wailing shutters to be opened each morning
defying the cold winter ache in the hope for light
we knew one another intimately then…
even those we didn’t know by name…
and in parts of this city, we still know,
just about… everyone on the block
at least the oldsters do…
we remember you, when all was new
when sitting on a railing, or on a knee high wall…
now we rest on a stylish bench
and nod to each other
after spitting out
a few of our last teeth…



36 responses to “Oh the ache of it

  1. Such a tender poem. You made my heart ache as I read through. A beautiful piece!!

  2. Wow! Like Mr. Dylan with a camera and wordpress account! I really, really like it! “…after spitting out the last of our few teeth.” Remember that after the teeth, you’ve still got gums…and the most determined always have the best run of it.

    • Well, Chriss, You have given me one of the finest compliments I have ever received, because I see Dylan as the foremost English poet of our generation. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  3. Changes can leave us feeling so sad, can’t they? How beautifully you express things.

    • Yes, Melissa, I think changes are inevitable, and that we have to learn to accept and adopt those changes and go on about our lives with them… but there are sad moments too. Thank you so much for your comment.

  4. Just beautiful! And the photos say so much as well. You really have a talent for getting to the heart of things–both with words and images.

  5. Always a pleasure. Though it seems we leave all at once, we really leave little by little.

    • So true, yearstricken. When we see it from the outside, it seems all too sudden. But when we’re living it, we’re aware of the process. Glad that you were able to enjoy this verse.

  6. Deeply beautiful, Shimon. You travel *in* the world, not *through* it. That’s something few do so thoughtfully.

  7. Truly a lovely piece. So heartfelt and…real. You are a wonderfully gifted writer and photographer.

  8. poetic nostalgia ~ thank you for sharing your words and memories with us Shimon. You have a wonderful gift.

    • Sometimes, it’s the circumstances… and the cold… a look in the eyes, and a tune in the air… that bring out something different than what we may have wished to share. Thank you very much for your comment, Marina.

  9. I find it helpful that your words aren’t afraid to recognize the strong as well as the broken, or the beautiful as well as the empty, and that your eyes are able to see the yesterdays as comforting, or as precious, and valued, even while finding your way with today

    • Yes, there are so many sides and aspects to this adventure we call life. I’m so happy you were able to enjoy these feelings that ran through me… almost unexpectedly. And you’re so right… there is no way to categorize it. Thank you, N.

      • I’ve come back again, and in reading this through again, I have the strongest sense of melancholy and most desperate desire to have been standing in the place where you can hear “the squeaky wailing shutters to be opened each morning”. Such a precious sound, now lost to your ears.

        What sounds are we hearing today that we must hold tight to in our memories, lest we forget their many treasures? Right now outside my window is the tinkling of a wind chime, a hollow thunking rhythmic sound mixed with a tinkling of glass and metal, blowing in the wind at random, a reminder of the friend who visited a foreign place and sent me back this bit of folly to brighten up my space. I must, right now, remember to hear this sound, and count my many blessings.

    • A good thought, for us to count our blessings, N… though it seems to me that we never know those sights and sounds that are part of the rush of life, till looking back at the way things went. There is so much we take for granted… or that enters our consciousness through a side door. Thank you for coming back and having another look.

  10. Wonderfully expressive!

  11. I am impressed so much… I read with my heart… Your poetical words so beautiful and so meaningful, but your photographs too. Thank you Shimonz, Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

    • Hi Nia, you just happened across an untypical post, and I’m grateful to you that you read with your heart. It is a great pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to our getting to know one another better.

  12. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    This is an excellent collection of words well paced, beautifully placed. The pictures are great too, and really have me feel I’ve visited your town.

    Speaking of terror attack, beggars, musicians, and making your way through, and how the paved streets had felt the step of younger men too. This was so vivid, contemplative. Really enjoyed it.

  13. I’m very happy to have found this blog. You have a solid, direct way of expressing strong sentiments about this cross-roads city. Your English is direct and not fancy and to the point.

    I came to Jerusalem in January of 1989 and it is an incredible, unforgetable city. I studied Biblical Hebrew for 3 years for my Masters at Dep’t of Near Eastern Studies, University of Toronto. I have forgotten it now.

    I am a new follower of your blog. Thank you for the images and the poetry.

    • Thank you very much, Weisser for your kind words. The language that I love, and in which I form my thoughts, is Hebrew… not too different from the biblical Hebrew that you studied. And I believe this influences my expression in other languages too. It is a great pleasure to meet you, and I have already had a look at your blog, and been impressed by what I saw. I look forward to getting to know you better.

  14. I often wonder how beggars can sleep on pavements. So cold, so hard and so harsh an enviroment.

    • Yes, it is definitely worth giving a little time to such thoughts… our own lives can keep us so occupied, that we often lose our sense of perspective. But when we see how others have managed to deal with ill fortune, it reminds us of the fragility of human existence. Thank you, GB, for your comment.

  15. I have to say I really love these photos, along with the poem. Especially the one with the young men sitting around. It’s kind of weird and wonderful having an introduction to Jerusalem via your blog; I never really thought too much about what it looked like, and the poem captures the…I guess tension of the political situation? Can’t figure out what I’m trying to say over here, besides that I like it. It stirs up emotions.

    • I’m very happy to hear you liked the post, shurteac. It’s true, Jerusalem has been around so long, and is connected in people’s minds to so many things… that some people never imagine what it it’s like as a city to live in. What I was writing about, though, was very personal. And not at all about the political situation. I love this city of mine like I’ve loved women in my life… and I’ve gone through changes in m life… and the city has gone through changes too… and I’m getting old now, and sometimes feel that I’m coming apart… and that’s what the poem was about. Glad you liked it. And glad you came by.

  16. All Along the Watchtower

    Bob Dylan, 1968

    “There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,
    “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
    Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
    None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”

    “No reason to get excited,” the thief he kindly spoke,
    “There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
    But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,
    So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

    All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
    While all the women came and went, barefoot servants too.
    Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl;
    Two riders were approaching – the wind began to howl.

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