Sunday, June 24, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Welcome to Australia, But

My life as a chameleon....

I've long felt a bit inferior
to plumbers and tradesmen
who come in
and do their job
brick by brick
who resolve leaks
restore tiles
rewire circuitry
and leave
their job done
while I
work with words
on jobs that have no
or end
during the war
I hid in an office
for seven years
until it was safe to come out
pizza delivery men
smuggled food to me
that tasted the same
as the boxes it came in
I watched the world go by
on a wind-up DVD player
and watered the plants
with my pee
it was only
when I grew tired of hiding
that I came out into
whatever was there 

as I get older
it becomes increasingly important to me
to maintain balance
and to grow the brand
of Immanuel Suttner

As the story of your body's ageing unfolds
everything just keeps on getting easier and easier
you find yourself simply doing
whatever needs to be done:
making school lunches
flipping a cockroach back onto its legs
reversing into a lamp post
attending an art exhibition or rally
picking up the scans which reveal arthritis
restructuring your insurance
shouting at a teenager
burying your parents
and the dog
enjoying your coffee
writing in your blog
going bankrupt
picking up the dishes from the caterers
lying awake at night consumed by anxiety
enjoying and often grateful
as you slowly become
exempt from it all
unable to move
even a millimeter
from the invisible trajectory
of the bullet fired by life
with your name on it 

(just seeing everything
happen by itself)

poetry is my affliction
poetry is my contradiction
poetry is my addiction
poetry is my benediction


It aint personal said the slaughterer
so please don't bleat
we don't want to hurt you
we just want your meat


Michael's Boat is Sinking

After the seduction
I wake up bruised and sore
the green lawns and loving families
in the margarine ads
has turned out to be trench warfare
the food they said would make me healthy
has made me fat
the car they said
would take us on adventures
ran over someone's beloved dog
I look out all around me
whadda I see
I see a row of cosmetically whitened teeth
coming for to swallow me

For Pessoa

I've had this strange pain in my side
I think G-d is trying to make
a woman out of me

If I had known you
like Adam knew Eve
I would not lie
in the dark and grieve

coming through customs
I try to look innocent
despite the fact
that I am
please don't bring the war here
leave it at the door
U think you want excitement
but you want peace much more

please don't bring the war here
you burn to prove your right
but peace is what you"ll come home to
when shadows call the night
Walking to the
"Welcome-to-Australia" March
from shule, a kipa unusually and ostentatiously
on my head, so as to flag that Jews
are also sensitive to these issues
I need to pee
so I step into a pub
in William Street, all pints of beer
and blaring tv screens
to use the loo
but before I do
I cover the kipa with a baseball cap
just in case

Glimpses of Home
Secular love songs
are really songs of love for the Divine
only their composers do not know it
Its hard
No, maybe its not that its hard but that its
hard for me
No, maybe its not that its hard for me but that its
actually me that that makes it hard
No, maybe it not me but its my thoughts that make it hard
yes, that's it, its my thoughts
which thought?
the thought that
"its hard"

its easy
I like that thought
I like thinking that thought
its easy to get born
its easy to die
easy to find yourself
doing what you're doing

Finding my voice

They said once you find your voice you’ll be ok
and its fine to imitate and anyway
even your imitations are original
because everyone has been set ringing
with their own song
but years and years of trying to figure out what other people want to hear
and give them that
can make it really hard to hear
like a woman who weights 350kg
and has no idea if she’s hungry or not
and can’t taste anything she eats
or if she's unhappy
or perfectly fine.
I am an example of the uncommon lesser donged shy poet
I have to be ferreted out from the cracks in which I take comfort

Poems on Desire

May I lie against the small of your back
may I may I
May I knead the tips of your rack
may I, may I?
may I move about in your crack
may I, may I

may I take and not give back
may I, may I


100 Women

Although my outsides are greying
inside my desire feels fresh and new
to lick the skin
of a 100 women
and know the different tastes of each
what do I imagine
that will give me?
immunity from desire?
a body knowledge that makes me complete
women as bestower
man as receiver
sometimes to be serviced
sometimes to kiss their feet
a young slim hand
on an elder penis
that never aged
though its owner did.


My peace time feels like a war zone
bills landing all around me
like kassims from Gaza
obstacles to the left
unknowns to the right
regret behind 
anxiety ahead  
sleepless nights
my bed my trench
and every morning
I go over the top

all depends
upon a balance
of presence
and absence
parenting and
the wheel's grip and go
the rests in music
the pauses in our conversation
bread rising
life on earth
not too much
and not to little


Crossing the line

sometime in the sobre 40s
I crossed a line
unnoticed at the time
where the could be's became might have beens
expansion became contraction
I thought less of what might be attained and more of what might be retained
and body scribbled notes in joints and eyes that it would not serve for ever
unexpectedly soon my vitality drained out of me like water drains out of a bath tub
one moment there, the next gone
like a cruise ship white and immaculate
that sets out from its home port
but gets battered by storms, runs aground on reefs
and can't quiet remember
why or who set sail 

Crossing the line

we cross a line
unnoticed at the time
where the could be's became might have beens
expansion became contraction
we think less of what might be attained and more of what might be retained
and body scribbles notes in joints and eyes that it will not serve for ever
like a cruise ship white and immaculatethat sets out from its home port
but gets battered by storms, runs aground on reefs
and can't quiet remember
why or who set sail

I had a friend
I inherited from my mom
who grew older
without a husband or children
and when she thought about taking flight said:
I can't just get up and go
I have responsibilities, there are things I must look after, things I must come home to
like my flat
and I
who have a wife and two children
and some pet mice
and a house
am like that women
only my flat is a little bigger


she spoke passionately 
her voice growing louder and her eyes more blazing
about how the Jews had been chased out of Hebron in 1929
how 67 of them  – including many women and children – were murdered and 
another 50 wounded and how this savage attack
was accompanied by wanton destruction and looting
with synagogues desecrated, and the  Jewish hospital, 
which had provided treatment for Moslems, attacked and ransacked, 
and only the personal courage displayed by Raymond Cafferata  
the one British Police Officer in the town (who was Jewish)
prevented the number of Jews massacred from being even greater
and how the cowed Jews of Hebron had turned down offers of help from the Haganah
the day before and that we could never allow such a massacre to happen again
and I nodded and all the time stole hungry glances
at the rise and passionate fall
of her breasts 

they call me a mexican beaded lizard
i wrestle for hours and hours
i don't know why
(just as Yaakov didn't know why he wrestled with His Self
and called it G?d)
if i win
i mate before i die

I like to hide
under a job
inside a pub
next to a book
beneath a film
locked up in
a bank account

The indignities of emigration #74: the household inspection

Friends of ours, emigrants, and economic refugees from Sydney, live in a hired house in Cairns. Once a quarter they have a house inspection by the letting agents, and the husband, who by virture of not having been able to find work for several years, is a house husband, begins cleaning and polishing several days before each inspection. During the last inspection he was given a "unsatisfactory" on the oven and so this time, determined to improve his score, he bought some highly toxic oven cleaner, b

However he was failed on the washing line, which still had washing on it (albeit clean and dry) when the inspection began 

Courage there is
scoop it up by the handful
the great sea of courage
is never emptied

everyone is ripe
for some transition
but not necessarily the one
you have decided for them

our dreams and wishes
paper boats set asail
on the burning lake

come back into your sockets
cheeks release
your taughtened brow
hands unfurl
your clutching fingers
mind stop
your grasping plans
make way for the blessing
that's already here
on the one hand
the fire of resentment
on the other
the icyness of the grave
do I call you?


After the massacre
the attribution of blame begins
it was the killer
with his 6000 rounds and weird message on the answering machine
it wasn't the lax gun laws
it wasn't the tv shows
it wasn't the dismissal in "have a nice day"
inflicted ten thousand times
it wasn't the macdonald's "rester aunts"
or 20 years of the bbc calling people who blew up arbitrarily selected victims "militants"
it wasn't the stream of illusions and images
(we were supposed to know they weren't real)
if we can just get ahold of the oiled fish of causation
we can make it jump through the hoops
of our likes and dislikes

I'm sitting in my car
and next to me is a big breasted young woman
unpacking her shopping
I'm a fine upstanding citizen by day
and because of that
a crazy absolutely normal impulse
to flash my pekelach
wells up in me
so that I may go from 0-100 with her
without an inbetween
so that a spark of recognition
can flash between us.
I reach down and unzip my pants
wrestle with my undies
but to my horror
there's nothing there
my penis has vanished
she puts the last bag away
gets into her car
and drives away


I am mature
and I have a wedding ring
that no longer fits my finger
to prove it
but still I look at young women and adore them
in the abstract
sans breath and blood
they are my greatest aspiration and inspiration
after peace


The good old days

Ah bring back the good old days
when people weren't so rude and impatient
when things were so much simpler
when everyone had a place
(Jews in ghettoes or cattle trucks
blacks on slave ships or sans hands on rubber plantations)

ah bring back the good old days
when people had time
to attend public executions
and children respected their elders
so much so they did not interrupt
even if their elder raped them

ah bring back the good old days
when people were honest
and knew what it was to work

When desire goes out the door
true love comes in through the window

the non-biological taboo: mommy, daughter, lover


"I embrace all of my son with love
(beginning with him it will move to me)
as he becomes a sexual being
and perhaps disappears into the
solitude of his room to masturbate
and delight in the new feelings
his body can provide

as his answers in monosyllables
eyes averted
as he challenges and misinterprets
my every word
as he accepts my good night hug
as he comes near and goes far"


If only the Tanach had commanded us:
young men and women are urged to have protected sex daily
as a thanks giving offering to the Lord
and old men and women
may take willing young partners
as their heart desires
but responsibly

running in the morning
trees chiselled against the sky
things that were One
now apart

running in the morning
trees chiselled agains the sky
even the gravestones
look better

(Boston Literary Review)

running in the morning
trees chiselled agains the sky
even the gravestones 
are bursting with being

See also I hold me

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Alice Walker and Torquemada Tutu

Alice Walker bravely declares her solidarity with the one party, mysogynistic, homophobic, civilian-targeting, supremacist monocultural regime in Gaza, but her penetrating and morally pure gaze somehow misses the bloodbath in Syria just a few hundred kilometres further north, the Kurd's 40 year struggle for autonomy and the Turks ruthless repression thereof, the ethnic displacement of Tibetans by Han Chinese and Chinese domination of the Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang "autonomous" region, the plight of the Saharawis in Morroccan claimed Western Sahara  the Russian dismemberment of Chechnya and a dozen other disputes around the world.
Yes I understand these conflicts - despite the fact that they have taken more lives and arguably caused more suffering than the Israeli Palestinian conflict - aren't as sexy in the West, and a fading intellectual has to ensure he/she remains relevant,  Or perhaps it is not a blatant populism that motivates the acclaimed novelist, but rather that she went to the same seminary as Bishop Tutu,  her grandstand stance underwritten by the assumptions that Tutu suckled on from the missionary breast that fed him - that Jews must and always are intrinsically guilty of some extraordinary misdeed. But perhaps, Ms Walker, the myopic focus on the Palestinian issue is what has allowed the other opressions to continue largely unchecked in the background - dictators and demagogues have long used the "blame the Jews" strategy as a way of distracting from their own machinations and destructive agendas. 
Since its creation in June 2006 the so called UN Human Rights Council"  has criticized Israel on 27 separate occasion. Obsessed with condemning Israel, the Council in its first year failed to condemn human rights violations occurring in any of the world’s 191 other countries. In its second year, the Council finally criticized one other country when it “deplored” the situation in Burma, but only after it censored out initial language containing the word “condemn.” It even praised Sudan for its "cooperation." 

The Council’s preoccupation with Israel is not limited to resolutions. Israel is the only country listed on the Council’s permanent agenda, and Israel is the only country subjected to an investigatory mandate that examines the actions of only one side, presumes those actions to be violations, and which is not subject to regular review." For detailed information on the pathological obsession with Israel see UN Watch 
Yes Israel is a stumbling democracy where the rule of law is being savaged on a day to day basis, and where increasingly fear and resentment of the other has come to dominate national discourse and strongly impact on policy. Yes Israel hangs in the balance as a democracy. Yes there is no proper separation off synagogue and state in Israel. Yes Israel has a poor track record of service provision to its Moslem citizens, and of discrimination against Conservative and Reform Judaism. Yes Jewish supremacists murdered an Israeli prime minister because he sought a historic compromise with the Palestinians. And yes Israel has the freest press in the middle east, the most minority group and female representatives in the Knesset and High Courts, the largest and freeest gay community in the middle east, and many other wins that some western democracies still have not achieved.
And yes, Israel's enemies are not democracies, do not extend the hand of peace to Israel, do not acknowledge the validity of Israel's narrative, and do not talk the talk or walk the walk of co-existence. And yes Israel's neighbours - including the Palestinians both in Gaza and in the West Bank (the biblical Yehuda and Shomron) supress difference and dissent amongst their own poulation with a savagery and furiosity Israel has never adopted.
Examine your own unconscious predjudices Ms Walker! And on your grand imperial tour of Gaza, please skip across the border to Sderot and Nachal Oz and Kfar Aza and Mefalsim and Gevim and Ashkelon and the other tens of towns and villages where children spend their days cowering in bomb shelters to try and stay safe from the Hamas missiles and mortars aimed indiscriminately at schools and hospitals.