DevMode
Mayor

It's sad
To be Mayor of Jerusalem.
It is terrible.
How can any man be the mayor of a city like that?

What can he do with her?
He will build, and build, and build.

And at night
The stones of the hills round about will crawl down Towards the stone houses,
Like wolves coming
To howl at the dogs
Who have become men's slaves.

Translated from the Hebrew by Assia Guttman From Selected Poems, Cape Collard, 1968


Luxury

My uncle is buried in Sheikh Bad'r
The other one is scattered in the Carpathian mountains.

My father is buried in Sanhedria
My grandmother on the Mount of Olives
And all their forefathers
Are buried in the ruined Jewish cemeteries in the villages of
Lower Franconia,
Near rivers and forests which are not Jerusalem.

My father's father kept heavy-eyed
Jewish cows in their sheds below the kitchen -

And rose at four in the morning
I inherited his early rising,
My mouth bitter with nightmares
I attend to my bad dreams.

Grandfather, grandfather,
Chief Rabbi of my life
As you sold unleavened bread on Passover Eve,
Sell my pains -
So they stay in me, even ache - but not mine,
Not my property.

So many tombstones are scattered behind me -
Names, engrained like the names of long-abandoned railway stations.
Translated from the Hebrew by Assia Guttman
From Poems, Harper and Row, New York and Evanston, 1968


All the Generations Before Us

All the generations before us
donated me bit by bit, so that I'd be
erected all at once
here in Jerusalem, like a house of prayer
or charitable institution.
It binds. My name's
my donor's name.
It binds.

I'm approaching the age
of my father's death. My last
will's patched up with many patches.
I have to change my life and death
daily to fulfill all the prophecies
prophesied for me. So they're not lies.
It binds.

I've passed forty
There are jobs I cannot get
because of this. Were I in Auschwitz
they would not have sent me out to work,
but gassed me straight away.
It binds.

Translated from the Hebrew by Harold Schimmel, From Poems of Jerusalem and of Myself, Harper and Row, New York, 1981.


I've passed forty
There are jobs I cannot get
because of this. Were I in Auschwitz
they would not have sent me out to work,
but gassed me straight away.
It binds.

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