Translated by Joanna Chen
Returning / חזרה
From rain – to sun
From a fancy facade – to a crumbling terrace
From a sculpted butt – to shoulders in a tank top
From loafers – to flipflops
From pricy perfume – to sweat stains
From “excusez-moi” - to “ahalan” and “dude” and “motherfucker”
From huge plane trees, from green all year round–
From a metropolis – to a city that thinks it’s a metropolis
From loneliness – to loneliness
Small Calming Poem / שיר הרגעה קטן
The soup’s on the stove, the sun hangs in the window
Everything’s fine, the washing whirls around
The girls are in school, the baby’s in creche
Everything’s fine, that’s not a siren rising and falling
Only the groaning of a crane, the snarling of a highway
Everything’s refined, like a step away from a chasm
Everything’s fine, the dead are dead and already
Forgave and no longer suffer
Look around you, everyone’s fine
Everyone you find
Enjoys whatever they have
And take selfies all the time.
Tulips / צבעונים
For a week they stood in the supermarket. I saw them each day
Cradled inside themselves, a shock of beauty
Wrapped in cellophane.
But not me
Nor someone else
In the end they bloomed
In a bucket
Beautiful as they had promised themselves.
Lilith / לילית מצויה
I’m a night owl
With nothing to lose
Tonight as I hunger.
Round head, black eyes
Screeching, clear and piercing.
I have no pity nor need it
And I offer nothing in exchange.
The night darkens and lengthens
The forest opens and widens
And there is no one lonelier
Than she who sees all
City / עיר
The loneliest people
Live in the city.
They need others around them
Behind the walls of home.
They proceed quickly
In efforted outfits
With practiced anonymity
They see and are not seen.
The stampede of the city drowns out
The vacuity within.
Every evening they gather around an electric heart
That always beats. Only thus they fall asleep.
The Soul / הנפש
The soul is like a she-dog
Suddenly asking to go out
Wanting some thing or other
That home doesn’t have.
Urge pounds in her chest
Turns her upside down
More powerful than her
She scratches the door
To go elsewhere.
A thousand years of domestication
(Or so it seems)
But still she clearly recalls how once she was a wolf
From time to time she must
Growl, she must bite
Prowl the streets, eat from the trash,
Be hunted, no more
Than barely surviving
Until she gets sick, until she is miserable
Enough to suck up to a stranger for a pat on the head
Forgetting how good it was.
Will come back on all fours
She knows it.
Poetry Evening / © Joanna Chen
We’re a small audience, covetous, thirsty for poetry
Bring us the best words in the best order
We’ll bite into them, roll them on our tongues, suck them
And then swallow
Beautiful sentences do things to us
Turning our soft underbelly
This is why we meet from time to time
wide-eyed in small rooms without walls
Hoping that other people’s words will tell our own tale
Will console us, tame us
But at the end of the reading
We simply fall silent or sigh and not even
Applaud in response
And the poetry remains alone in the audience
And the abyss
Within rises up, hangs open
Each one carries the random biography of his life
And it’s so rare, so fragile
That for a few moments we are better understood
Closer to the flame of truth
And our words are less empty
Less foreign tongue.
* / *
We were like flowers.
Chrysanthemums would be apt.
In water that was bestowed
on existing earth
under governing winds.
We bloomed the best we could
aiming beyond the pathway
but remaining in place.
Wily wasps and miraculous butterflies
came to our threshold
but most days resembled that day.
We were beautiful by virtue of our temporality
Comforted by our plurality.
We lived like flowers in the shade of a crane.