Blesok no. 60, May-June, 2008

She called me Peugeot because for her I was 306

Ronny Someck


is as thin
as a napkin wiping away
crumbs of words
from under the lip.
“Have you enjoyed yourself?” it asks. “Tell your friends.”
“You haven’t? Tell us.”
And we, like the mouth, are never satisfied
with the menu of the body
and love at night’s end
is a chair reversed
on a restaurant table.
Its legs in the air,
its head in clouds of floor.

Translated by Vivian Eden

Patriotic Poem

I’m a pajama Iraqi, my wife’s a Romanian gal
and our daughter is the thief of Baghdad.
My mother still boils the Euphrates and the Tigris,
my sister has learned how to make piroshki
from her Russian mother-in-law.
Our friend, a knife Moroccan, stabs an English
steel fork into a fish born on Norwegian shores.
All of us are workers sacked from the scaffoldings
of the tower we wanted to build in Babel.
All of us are rusty spears
that Don Quixote threw at the windmills.
All of us are still shooting at dazzling stars
a moment before they are swallowed up
into the Milky Way.

Translated by Vivian Eden


If I had another daughter
I'd call her Algeria,
and you would doff your colonial hats to me
and call me “Abu Algeria.”
In the morning, when she opened her chocolate eyes
I would say: “Now Africa is waking up,”
and she would caress the blonde on her sister's head
certain that she had rediscovered gold.
The grains on the seashore would be her sandbox
and in the footprints of the French who fled from there
she would hide the dates that dropped from the trees.
”Algeria,” I would clasp the railing of the balcony and call to her:
”Algeria, come home, and see how I'm painting the eastern wall
with the brush of the Sun.”

Third Kiss Blues

She was almost my first woman and I wanted to call her Eve.
She called me Peugeot because for her I was 306.
There were a several years between us, with her in the lead, and until then
I had never taken a lift from anyone who hadn’t stopped for me.
We stood next to the fence of the agricultural school and beneath
our feet we could hear
the water in the irrigation pipes telling sweet
secrets to the earth.
“If you plant a horseshoe here,” she said, “within a year
a colt will grow.” “And if,” I replied, “you plant a fan here –
within a minute Marilyn Monroe’s flying dress will sprout.”
A second later her lips began to crumble like sand
and her tongue curled over my face
like the remains of a wave.
At that moment the world split into those who closed their eyes
and those who beat the drums on the parade grounds
of the sunset.
Therefore I did not see how the wheels of the tractor
that passed nearby whipped the waters of the puddles
and how like flying kisses the mud shrapnel sprayed
over the muscles of the clouds that had been condemned that evening
to push the sun
into the sea.

Translated by Vivian Eden

Stupid Beauty

       “… All philosophers glorified by the chronicles of culture,
        Honorable thinkers.”
          (By Pinchas Sadeh from “In the Central Tel Aviv Bus
           Station, Afternoon, Rosh Hashana Eve”)

Plato's not listed in the address book crammed into her purse,
And mythological creatures in her memory don't blush
From her toenail's red polish.
Even Aphrodite didn't inspire
Hair falling on her nape, and the blue brush
Carving Botecelli's waves
Hardly brings out lashes of prey
On her eyelids.
But she's beautiful, a muddy and stupid beauty,
A beauty who splashes water blurring the written, erasing
The painted, and knowing that beyond flowers protected by law
A purple petal cuddles, swaying at the edge of a wild-thorn stem.
And when she speaks with you, forget about language for a moment.
Send the words into grammar's stall,
Let the big second hand in the circle of her face
Tick the minute, which is not time's slave.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Translated by: Robert Manaster & Hana Inbar

Cesar Vallejo
(Or 12 Lines on The Bread of Shame)

On the third line, a tear may boil in the ovens of the eye
When you learn he collected bottles in the streets
For a living.
One can imagine the back bowing, the hand reaching out
To the glass neck, the slice being cut from the bread of shame.
From this angle, it's hard to be sated even from Parisian legs
Joined at the hips of girls with whom God was laughing
In the delivery room.
And you, Mr. Hunger Minister, don't say that within his empty stomach
His poems were baked, don't remind us that beauty whips wheat before
The ovens of hell turn it into bread. One could have dreamt
He's a bird and leave a crumb on the windowpane.

Translated by: Robert Manaster & Hana Inbar

A Love Poem for Wisława Szymborska

”Did you bring a photo of your daughter?”
She asks, and in my mouth's cavern more teeth are growing
To chew this very moment.
”Let's have another cognac,” She raises
Her voice as if it were a scythe reaping wheat,
In order to bake words and slice bread
That even falls in love with the knife.
On the table marmalade slices are resting
Like leaves fallen onto the plate.
The real leaves hanging on trees in Krakow
Are wrapped in cellophane of mist
That came to sweeten the evening.

Translated by: Robert Manaster & Hana Inbar

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