Israel Poems

Hebrew Headache

Letters, words and sentences I cannot yet understand,
Television newsreaders talking but delivering no information.

Adverts, billboards and slogans selling me something,
Food in alien packaging, with clever logos lost on me.

2 for 1 deals and mystical menus, intriguing and confusing,
Bus stops and cafes filled with meaningless mobile chatter.

Passing road signs and neon lights, leading me to nowhere,
Even election posters and religious rhetoric cannot reach or teach me.

And finally comes the punch line of the joke I do not get,
But with every step I am closer to you and losing my headache.


Tel Aviv is a French film
black & white, jump cuts, edited by students
with haircuts, long brown curls, girls with flowers
in their handbags, shopping on Dizengoff
for wedding dresses to cry on.

Tel Aviv is the Café Voltaire, in Zurich,
Switzerland, where surreal Dadaists painted poetry
on pub toilet walls, forever is never the end,
cats make love below balconies, while bicycles
circle in silence.

Tel Aviv is Manhattan in the 60s, where
Bob Dylan and Ginsberg drink tea and smoke
weed, honey, lemon and speed past
the falafel stalls to be human,
once more, to the core.

Tel Aviv is and will be
a dream, unless men and women
with hindsight and insight use the light switch
to switch the tide of time, a Mediterranean mind
game that nobody can win.

Alpaca Farm

I think I saw an eagle soar
this morning on Alpaca Farm.
I must charge my mobile phone
and turn off the car alarm.
The shepherd dog only wanted me
to stroke his fur and smile.
I need to open my laptop,
check my emails for a while.
Last night I was scared when a
field mouse rummaged through my food.
Now I have nothing left to eat,
but I am not in a bad mood.

You see, nature can take my Bamba,
animals can steal my food.
But I cannot eat their breakfast –
because that would be too rude.
Here on this farm of harmony,
I am merely the llamas’ guest.
Migrating birds sing forever,
for the Negev is their nest.
It’s not ours, or yours or theirs,
the desert belongs to no-one.
Bedouin or tourist, police or army,
we are all beaten by the sun.

Beit Oren

A pine cone reminded me of home,
the old oak tree in my back garden,
with a rope swing that Dad made for us.
He was always busy fixing in his toolshed
like Ze’ev, the oldest Kibbutznik who built
a tree house for his grandchildren in the eighties.

Those years were tough on the kibbutz,
the banks chopped them down like branches,
burning the roots of equality.
But “What is real human equality?”
asked old Ze’ev as we left his house on a hill,
and I saw red poppies bloom from the ashes.


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