Category Archives: poetry

dear friend

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to Nedra with love

It was half a lifetime ago
that we sat by your table on your front porch
it seemed then that we’d fulfilled all our goals
and our dreams had come true.
We discussed the problems of life
smiling and laughing in conversation
all the way through

We loved each other with all our hearts
though never knew each other in the biblical sense
you were my sister and I your brother
though we came from opposite sides of the world
I loved your parents as you loved mine
and we were never bothered by the time…

the hills and the valleys, the hard times and good…
we lived our lives the best way we could.
You, as light as an angel, walking through walls
stalking me in my territory…
as with heavy heart, I walked the study halls.
We found partners, had children, cooked meals…
working as we should; we tried to delight;
you taught me to laugh, you gave me new sight.

and life kept on going, each of us in his way
did we ever imagine that we’d get so gray?
the loss of you, has finally broken my heart…
could we have imagined that we’d fall (so) apart?

You’ve gone to your grave. I’ll soon go to mine.
And let us never be bothered by the passing of time.

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islands in the raging sea

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with violence erupting
from deranged, festering, unthinking minds…
thirsty for action in the Hollywood style
so like the action thrillers that perked them up
as they stared listlessly
at the silver screen… in the theater
or the computer screen alternative
to their meaningless existence.
rivers of blood and forbidden sex
as an antidote to boredom and insignificance
wishing for a moment of glory before sacrifice
empty moon faces lost in space
spastic hyper active bodies
distended from shallow minds
the Arab spring, they called it, a few years ago
you can find it on facebook, I’ve heard…

can it be…
that we, on our island of serenity
may still enjoy some peace of mind
in the light, filtered through fall leaves
chickens picking at grains of vegetation
in the gravel…
and the cats, leisurely in their presence
taking pleasure in life itself,
cleaning themselves from time to time
awake, aware, but calm
in the patches of sunshine between
the approaching rain clouds

islands in the raging sea
in the midst of the storm

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Heaven’s Roots

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boats in the harbor

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sometimes in a line, or side by side
we give the semblance of order, the hint of pride
in early summer when the weather is fine
and new paint is added, and rot cut away
lines are repaired and wood is well varnished
there are flashes of pride, and adventure before us
and the water needs only, to keep us afloat
as songs from the radio fill the air with romance
leisurely, after the work of sanding and cutting,
when relaxing on a deck chair in the long afternoon,
there might be a beer or two, or a tug at the bottle,
a wisp of smoke in the air for relaxation
as if there was nothing to do
rubbing shoulders all the while with reliance

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out here, don’t you know, we’re an adjunct of the city
we’re the homes of those who can get away
instead of green gardens and seasonal flowers
we’ve got the sea as our backyard, to bring joy to the day.
the power company provides our electric connection
the cell phone rings with cheery calls from friends
apparently well connected, all our needs supplied
dinners may be served in scenic surroundings
or eaten in privacy while we’re seated inside

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there’s some of us here, who’ll never go out to sea
they’ll find consolation in the sights and the smells,
the purr of the motors, the songs of the wind…
the groans of the swell, the roars of the waves
the wimpers of the wood, the salt in the air
and the security of being moored to the wharf
just a step from the land, tethered as always
out of harms way

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but those of us who’ll venture out…
setting sail with intention to return
but well aware that there’s no fair retreat
knowing in the depth of our souls
that life starts with the first centimeter
of release from the moorings
as we slip away from the fetters
and the garbage of idleness
putting our faith on the body of the water,
the solitude of the deep blue sea

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our trust in the stars above
even when they remain unperceived
behind clouds in the black of night.
they are there as they were
yesterday and a thousand years ago
the presence of the sea too, is constant and won’t be tamed
arm wrestling playfully, then she’ll shake, rattle and roll
till even the most practiced sailor will heave
and clench the rail with all his might
no flattery will subdue her, no love will overcome…
alone on the water, we’ll navigate our course
no promise, no assurance, no insurance will deliver us
as we rely on judgment and experience night and day

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metal will buckle and planks will decay
paint will bubble over unforgiving rust
a single mistake may never be forgiven
and a blink in the night, might never be forgotten.
there are fewer fish in the sea, and they remain unseen
and the moods that seemed casual at first
could be later acknowledged with a scream

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good times for sure, the highs intoxicate
but happiness, you know isn’t forever after
no maps or charts to guarantee the temper of mood
or the luck of a voyage between here and the horizon
the personality of the sea knows no surety
the crew relies on one another, the captain on god
and when the captain sails alone
his face etched with resolution…
is one of his eyes waiting for a nod?

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you land lovers above
have the choice, just as we do here
whether to stick with the crowd,
in an ever lasting hug
or live this life the best that you can
on your own, despite the fear

all photos from the Jaffa harbor

end of a long day

Oh, there were resolutions
to keep a low profile
to pace myself
to take it easy,
because nothing is so important
anyway
but yesterday
there was an inertia
that got out of hand
like a rolling thunder
and good people
whom I couldn’t say no to…
then, by the end of the day
I was simply worn out…
And found myself gazing
down the street
just like this cat here
at the edge of the day
in the light of the sun
going down

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cat gazing down the street

Never Ending Meeting

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Written in Hebrew by Nathan Alterman 1938
Free translation by ShimonZ 2015

I was taken by storm while singing to you
those stone walls stood in vain;
my passion is yours, your garden is mine
dizzy, without hands, how could I open doors

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Let the sin and the judgments languish in books
while suddenly and forever my eyes are shocked
through the warring streets and raspberry sunsets
and too, you’ve bound me in bunches

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Don’t ask for the bashful to approach
alone in your country I’ll go
I ask for nothing
my prayer is that you’ll take from me

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From the ends of my sorrow
in the black of night
on the long, empty, asphalt streets
my god has sent me to offer the little children
raisins and almonds to console my poverty

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How good that your hand still grabs our hearts
have no pity on us when we’re too tired to go on
don’t let us crawl for refuge to a dark lonely room
leaving the stars that still shine outside

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There the moon is shining; sends us a smiling kiss
and the damp heavens thunder and grumble
the sycamore dropped me a branch it could spare
and I’ll grab it up for my support

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And I know that while the drum keeps beating
to the pace of the city and the issues at hand
I’ll drop one day with my head bashed in
and find our smile… between the parked cars

goodbye don’t lie blues

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This ain’t a walk away from Sodom, but there’s no looking back…
so it’s goodbye and good luck, and I’ll be on my way
you were there when I needed you, and there was nothing you lacked…
yet the world is never ending… and I’ve had my stay

there are faces in the crowd that beckon to me
but it’s winter now, and freedom is harder to bear when it’s cold…
though I’ve always liked adventure… you know my friends, I’m getting old…
while trying not to get distracted, by all the wonders I see
or get carried away by a few steps of sunshine warming my back
the burden is heavy, so I’ll be throwing some of my troubles out my sack

went to sleep last night listening to a song from long ago
about a troubled mind and an ache in the heart…
and a whisky sour that lasted as long as the song
while singing the blues, there’s no need to judge between right and wrong…
but the nights are endless, and the coyotes howl at the moon
and thoughts slouch at the bedpost, imagining images of ruin
you can still hear them when you’re taking a nip for the hangover next noon…

the winter wind is blowing, and it carries me away
and there’s blues in the background, whispering to me … what to say
it’s all so tempting to join in with someone else’s blues
to cry my heart out on someone else’s bad news…
I could do it well, I could give it my heart , and you’d be crying too
but when it’s your own song, you’ve got to tell the truth to be really blue
and you got to face it to tell it; and sometimes that’s more than a man can do
I’ll just finish this whisky now… pour it on my head for a healthy douse
’cause I left her singing … she was built like a brick shithouse