Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Poems written or captured in 2009

See also vidui and other poems

My dad's lift at teleoptic
pty (ltd) 257 main street
with the expanding iron gate
that had to slam shut once the door had closed
I haven't thought about it in years

Not everyone
wants the rough and tumble of reactivity
the distracting chatter of the morning breakfast show
can a jolly good chin wag save us from the grave?

I go from the school family
now disbanded for the holidays
to my family family
alone and bereaved
having neglected the one in favour of the other
and yet the school family being far more illusory than my own
though neither will last
but one will last months
and the other decades

There's no 1 way 2b a teacher
There's no 1 way 2b anything
There's no 1 way to run a class
There's no 1 way to run away from a class

Teacher thoughts
Leader thoughts
Service Thoughts

My heart is wide open like the evening sky
Libi patzua vedomem
defeated by my own contradictions


Don't worry
you will not forget
and if you forget
it will not matter
and if it matters
life will remind you

I can never get enough
sea and sand
light and shade
penis and vagina
hand and mouth
alone and together
speaking and silence

May an earthquake strike
the hearts of Iranians
and turn them into
lovers of Zion

I have tried to knit me
a shield of armour
with words

There is that desperate hunger in me
for some kind of acknowledgment
perhaps an acknowledgment I have
never given myself
slow down in that relentless search
hear the little voice that whispers
"you're OK...nothing more needs to be done"

Those who know the pain
of another load of washing
and the gaping dishwasher
waiting for the overflowing sink
at the end of a long day
the kids refusing the food that was made
"that's disgusting"
keeping your temper in check
and suddenly at bedtime they're
tearing round the house
not doing what we asked them to
and then the following morning
getting them up for school
red eyed, exhausted
complaining and whining
trying to remember
what's needed for work
should know you deserve a medal
for your daily acts of heroism

A couple rode into the woods
into the woods they rode
the day was hot, she rode on ahead
he watched as she rode in the woods
a couple rode deep in the woods
they stopped to rest in a glade
the silence was heavy
the bush was alive
(the breath was short in his breast)she held his helmet
he took of his shirt
she loosened her hair
it fell all arounddeep in the woods they rode
My son is walking with me
and I am walking with my father
who is walking with his father
who is walking with his father
and it is always thus
Because I could not keep my parents
I kept some of their possesions
for a little while longer

Habayit reyk

hamekarerr mefamzem lo
d'maot shel shalva
zolgot al lechyai

The house is empty
the fridge is whirring
tears of peace
pour down my face


In the small silence
I glimpse the great silence
that Solomon spoke of:
ki azah kamavet haahavah
mayim rabim lo yuchlu lechabotah
uneharot lo yishtefuhah...
for love is strong
as death a flame
blazing vast floods
cannot extinguish
nor rivers down.”
I take off my body
and stay at home

See "Shir HaShirim" - the Song of Songs
See these poems transcribed in Hebrew in BaMisaadah
Listening to Noah
singing "nanuah"
liquid love
smiles from the tears
pure ghee rubbed
on a babies' back
feels just like this, a
1000 years
of lonely fear
hidden in the fortress
of the heart dissolves
just like that. If we are not
haMakom, haAyn Sof
az maayin noveya
hayofi hazeh

haMakom -
Hebrew name for G?d = the place, the space
haAyn Sof
- Name for G? d from the Kabblistic (Jewish mystical) tradition - 'the Endless'az maayin noveya - so from whence flows
hayofi hazeh - this beauty?

School a week before vacation
staff and students
thoroughly sick of one another
can already smell it in the air
they sniff at it greedily
with engorged nostrils
and continue to pretend
to teach and learn

Once the son
of Schickelgruber
saw a Jew family.

The Jew papa
patted his little boy's head
and a pain shot through the son
of Schickelgruber's chest.
He could not look
that love in the eyes
the sweetness hurt too much

to rid him of it
he ordered the Jews
sons and fathers,
mothers and daughters
clothed in fleas
and dysentery
drowned in misery...

it didn't help

the Jew love lives on


On the bus
being transported to work
a loud yawn -moan escapes me
a by product of anti-depressants and despair
and I apologise to no-one in particular
for forgetting to be opaque


On the bus
coming back from the psychologist
I am sitting on more
than just the seat

When you're feeling sad and blue
but the timetable says teach 8.3 or 8.2
who gibber and jab and jibe at you
tell me friends what do I do?

wear your heart upon your sleeve
or wear a mask, while inside you grieve?
there is no right way, nor a wrong
but sometimes a class can feel very long

salvation sometimes comes as a bell
tolling for thee, come forth from hell

I lie in bed
my crocodile eyes half open
waiting to see if my wife
will come down to the river

Sometimes I want to explode on a bus
not like a suicide bomber
but from love
even the coughing spluttering man
pushing his trolley and cursing the passers by
is caught up in the blast and blown
to kingdom come

I have always fallen in love
with women whose faces
seem to be laughing and crying
at the same time
even when they're
just staring blankly

became this:

Often I've fallen in love with women
whose faces seem to be laughing and crying
at the same time
even when
they're just doing
the dishes

uncertainty is my friend
self doubt my brother
longing is my sister
acceptance is my mother


Rust how wonderful you are
rust and decay
as you slowly oxidise
our vanities away


What is boredom?
stopping halfway
what is boredom?
Not looking at what is under the rock
What is boredom?

At 45
I feel lonely and frightened
like a little child
and I'm sure many other dads and husbands
and ageing batchelors do too
but by and large
unless we're extraordinary
we keep it to ourselves
we've had our time for that, now we're supposed
to be self sufficient, independent
"the father", the "man"
the "I can"
not the "I'm desperate, I'm trapped, I'm drowning...
I neeed help...."
well I say to that: bullshit
I can't do it on my own
I won't do it on my own
and if I need help I'll ask for it

Imagine the scene:
Austin Powers on one side of the desk, on the other a comely supplicant
Austin: (in measured cautious tones) I think in this situation the right thing...er, the natural thing..., the decent thing would be to ....
(vaulting across desk)
f%$k you!


Lord please help me
move through the fear of boredom
and drudgery
so that I can support my family
in integrity

armed with his laptop and umbrella
the hero goes of to his job once more
to face the lions of his skull once more


There is a delicate dance
between teacher and class
a subtle and wonderous thing


Smoke and mirrors At the bookshop looking at a colourful book on video games I feel that familiar twinge of regret that instead of becoming something creative like a filmaker or gamemaker I'm now only a teacher, knowing full well that if I was a filmaker I'd be paging through a book, being full of regret that I hadn't become something real like a teacher

sometimes I wish i could earn a living helping people escape their lives for an hour or two and sometimes I wish I could earn a living helping people face their lives for an hour or two

When i tried to be a writer i wrote some things and when i saw them on the page i said to myself and sometimes to others thats me thats mine Im here I matter I'm someone, that's me, that's my poem that's mine when I tried to direct i directed some things and when I saw them on the screen i said to myself and sometimes to others thats me, thats mine, I'm here I matter I'm someone, that's me, that's my film, that's mine when I tried to be a teacher i went to a concert where my students performed and when I saw them on the stage I said to myself and to the others thats me, thats mine, I'm here I matter I taught her, I teach him that's my child that's mine

Israelis have soft bodies
like the rest of us
but try to make them hard
to armour themselves against the emnity
which seems to gather around them
because they have survived and even thrived
but the missiles, bombers and kidnappings
regularly prove
their soft humanity

I became a rabbi
watching a woman
ride a killer whale
I became a rabbi
when I argued with dad
to let the gardener
swim in our pool
I became a rabbi
in brothels and yeshivas
I became a rabbi
reading Tolstoy all night
I became a rabbi
hearing howling Al Ginsberg
singing Shalom Achshav
at Kikar Hamalka
I became a rabbi
when I rescued a cat
I became a rabbi
in an ashram in Lucknow
I became a rabbi
when I pushed out a fart
while being pushed out a plane
above palmachim
I became a rabbi
when I did not join in
in Gibalia as my unit
clubbed a man to jelly
I became a rabbi
between her legs
each pubic hair
black fire on white
I became a rabbi
in run-down Tzefat
where I ran down the hill
like the Ariza"l
I became a rabbi
on the rocks of eyn gedi
where I leaped like a goat
in my tzanchanim boots
I became a rabbi
fighting back the tears
at the end of films
I became a rabbi
translating Amichai
I became a rabbi
with charitable acts
with each love song I wrote
when I held my new borns
and blessed them with peace

yeshivas - fundamentalist theological seminaries

Al Ginsberg - Alan Ginsberg, the famous beat poet
Shalom Achshav - Peace Now, an Israeli extra-parliamentary movement which has fought for Israel to make territorial compromises in exchange for a cessation of hostilities against Israelis
Gibalia - shanty town in the Gaza Strip
Kikar haMalka - a large square in Tel Aviv where many political rallies have been held. It was in this square that Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated, and the square has since been renamed Kikar Rabin. At the time I heard Alan Ginsberg reading there at a Shalom Achshav ralley, it was still called Kikar HaMalka.
Palmachim - a beach on Israel's central coast where people often parachute
Ein Gedi (Hebrew: עֵין גֶּדִי‎, lit. Kid Spring (as in young goat) - is an oasis in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, close to Masada and the caves of Kumran.
tzanchanim - paratrooper
Amichai- Yehuda Amichai, Israel's national poet

Strange fire

Sometimes when our sons
come home from friends
they bring with them sticky energies
from other households
that seem to us alien
or brash
and then we spend time
brushing them off
or waiting for the wind
to blow them away
'til they settle again
and enter the threshold
as the boys
we know and


On the bus I pretend
the nubile passengers
are all my wives
and because my stop
is at the end of the line
one by one
my harem diminishes
until I alight
to go home to
my wife

Thoughts while attending a community college Yoga classSometimes I pity the charedi yidden
with their tsholent bellies
and their fish bowl eyes
who never know a moments rest
except on shabosand even then
they still have to
keep and
keep - Deuteronomy 5:12 and remember - Exodus 20:8 - the shabat (Sabbath)

My cell phone is a goy
its predicative texting
doesn't recognise words
like shabbos or


In the gathering evening
the boys and I
played pidgin tennis
with a bouncy yellow ball
and the score card read
love fifteen
love thirty
fifteen thirty
fifteen forty

the sterile streets of Sydney
from which rats and dogs and cats and cockroaches
have been vanished and poisoned
this is a landscape made for humans
and sometimes not even for them
its subterranean bars and casinos
with patterned carpets and dim lighting
the portals to a tattered hell

call it acceptance if you want
is making all my suffering turn into sweet wine
no that's not it
its making the illusion of suffering disapear
no that's not it
there never was any suffering

When I was 19 or so
I sat in a yeshiva in Yerushalayim
at the time of the third meal
when the day was darkening
together with another 200 young men
and together we sang:
mizmor ledavid Adon-i Roh'ee
"The lord is my shepard, I shall not want"
and yedid beloved nefesh of my soul
200 voices in a darkening room
becoming the song as we sang it over
and over and over again
'til each note, each bend
hung before us in the air

and now the threads that held us together
no longer bind me
I have shed them like an outgrown skin
and the time and the place are gone
and I have ripened into something else
but the song remains the same
and eternal

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