Sunday, 20 December 2015

It's Never, Ever, 'All Over'.

Bob Dylan's song, It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, prompted the theme of veteran US writer Joyce Carol Oates's most noted short story, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

The lyrics are difficult. Some critics argue that they are strongly influenced by the symbolist poet, Arthur Rimbaud while lines like "take what you have gathered from coincidence" reflect the I Ching philosophy which uses a type of divination called cleromancy and states that coincidence represents more than mere chance. This in turn produces apparently random numbers. 

Oates's story has prompted as much debate as Dylan's song, partly because of her description of the graffiti of rough doodles and  random numbering adorning the villain's gold-painted, open-top car. 

"'Now, these numbers are a secret code, honey," Arnold Friend explained. He read off the numbers 33, 19, 17 ...'" 

Other scholars say the numerals allude to several biblical passages, especially Judges 19:17 in the Hebrew bible. This verse appears in the story about a man who tries to prevent a male guest from being sodomised by offering his daughter and the guest's concubine in their place. The concubine is gang-raped throughout the night, collapses, then dies. Then as the story unfolds, we learn that the incident causes a  civil war with mass slaughter on both sides.

My own feeling is that while Oates is an atheist, that she may also be acutely aware of the rabbinical dictum of there being no such thing as coincidence; that everything happens for a reason. 

After all, she is from a part-Jewish background and was very close to her paternal grandmother, Blanche Woodside who concealed her heritage after her own father killed himself. It seems self-evident to me that Oates drew on this link via Dylan's music and also through her villain, 'Friend', who bears a common Jewish surname. 

Elsewhere, Oates uses parts of her grandmother's life story in her novel, The Gravedigger's Daughter. Most recently, the final tale in her new short-story collectionThe Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror, refers to the frequent use of 'coincidence' as a popular plot device in 19th century fictional literature.

   



You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last
But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast

Yonder stands your orphan with his gun
Crying like a fire in the sun


Look out the saints are comin’ through
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue


The highway is for gamblers, better use your sense
Take what you have gathered from coincidence
The empty-handed painter from your streets
Is drawing crazy patterns on your sheets


This sky, too, is folding under you
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue


All your seasick sailors, they are rowing home
All your reindeer armies, are all going home
The lover who just walked out your door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor
The carpet, too, is moving under you
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue


Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you
Forget the dead you’ve left, they will not follow you
The vagabond who’s rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore
Strike another match, go start anew
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue

Friday, 18 December 2015

Poetry with Punch



When I opened this blog in April last year, I mused on the nature of poetry, and suggested that a poem is more than its base material; that like its author it has a soul – a ‘divine spark’ - that helps to lift it beyond the ordinary.

Now English language poetry lovers in the Galilee will have the chance to debate what makes a popular poem great when we meet for an evening of ‘Poetry with Punch'.

At the event, under the aegis of ESRA KARMIEL, participants will take turns to read a couple of beloved poems by favourite authors and then to explain the reasoning behind their selection.


The event, to be held in a private home, is open to a maximum of 21 readers so those wishing to attend should pre-register to help the organisers arrange seating and refreshments which are to include snacks and hot punch.


Registration: sharonmayer4@gmail.com


Date: Tuesday 05 January 2016


Time: 7.15 p.m. for 7.30 p.m


Venue: Private home in Ramat Rabin, Karmiel


Entrance: NIS 15; NIS 10 (ESRA/KESC members)



© Natalie Wood (18 December 2015)

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Then – and Now


(“Generation after generation reads the same words and says: ‘Was that then or is that now’?” – Rabbi Lord Sacks)
 
Then and Now

 

And it came to pass that Fayez

Father of Hamdia heeded the deeds

of our shared forebear, Avraham

and welcomed weary strangers inside his home.

 

“’Jew, Jew, Jew! We’ll stone you!

Burn you! Destroy you’!”

 


Ynetnews

As all around a baying mob of

neighbours threw rocks and fire,

scorching holy Hebrew prayer boxes

with searing words of hate, Fayez,

a Palestinian Arab, gave five angels

from the States water, time, refuge

so they may learn that ‘Allah’ – also

named ‘Hashem’ – is great and would

help them find their way to where

our noble patriarchs lie at their eternal rest.

 

“I’m no hero”, said unassuming Fayez.

“I did what needed to be done. We are

all human first and foremost. That's how

everyone should behave. We have no problems

with the Israelis and we don't want to have any."

 

But even as he proffered kindness,

offered Jews universal words of comfort

beneath his roof, the hate outside did not abate.

 

“‘Jew, Jew, Jew’! We’ll stone you!

Burn you! Destroy you’!”

 

Dear God of all our warring nations,

please keep Fayez Father of Hamdia quite safe!



© Natalie Wood (08 December 2015)


Sunday, 6 December 2015

‘Time for You and Time for Me’

 
Afternoon Tea
Cake

 

“Cake – let’s have cake”,

you said. The same rotund vowels

that robed us in a swish of velvet

drapes drawn swiftly against

an early darkened afternoon,

also bathed us in scents of

mixed sweet spice, citrus,

plumped fruits – and sugar so

sticky-black it may have passed for

road tar in the thickening gloom.

 

Donkey-Stone

 

Toast perhaps?” As I asked, my

tongue lingered long on fancied

butter spreading, sliding, oozing

on a plate – like the skittish soap suds

that slithered off Gran’s hallowed

door-step, down, deep down the

nearest grate.

 

“No. Cake, please”, you said,

the tips of your blunt-nailed fingers

scarcely grazing mine. “Times like

this - of joy – even the tremulous

joy of sorrow – are best toasted

with cake, tea. Sometimes wine”.

 

Then there were flowers. And

after an elaborate search behind

your chair, you revealed a riot of

quite unreasonable, unseasonal,

bare-faced colour.

 

“These  unblushing, brazen

blooms”, I said, “seem careless

of their pedigree. Are they not

aware that good breeding requires

that they close their puckered

mouths in public?”

 

“But they wish to toast you”,

you said, “with cake. Feed

them. Now”.




© Natalie Wood (06 December 2015)

Monday, 23 November 2015

The World Is Their Wedding

Sarah.Litman.Ariel.BiegelA young Israeli couple have issued an open invitation to their wedding in Jerusalem on Thursday.

Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Biegel see their move as a grand gesture of defiance against the Arab terrorist who murdered her father and brother,  Rabbi Yaakov and Netanel Litman in a shooting near Otniel, south of Hebron as the family drove to a pre-wedding party  on the afternoon of Friday 13 November.

News of the incident  received scant international media attention as it happened barely hours before the ISIS attack on Paris.

But the couple told the Israeli Press: "This will be the million-person wedding. Multitudes will come to make us happy”.

Their decision to celebrate their marriage as soon as possible after Sarah’s initial seven days of mourning follows the best Orthodox Jewish tradition. What’s more, their wish to have huge crowds at their party reminded  me of the Talmudic phrase the world is a wedding in which the ancient sages advise us all to ‘seize the day’ and enjoy life to the utmost.

Indeed the phrase is so intriguingly expressive that it has been used several times as the titles of popular secular English language works.

These include the memoir of Anglo-Jewish writer   Bernard Kops, a novel by Wendy Jones and a collection of short stories by American, Delmore Schwartz. It is Schwartz’s work I want to examine here.

Born in  1913 to Romanian Jewish parents whose unhappy marriage badly affected him, Schwartz nonetheless was a gifted student whose work began receiving serious attention in his early twenties.

Delmore.SchwartzAlthough Schwartz is generally considered never to have reached his full potential, his admirers ranged from fellow US poet Robert Lowell to rock musician Lou Reed and Saul Bellow, the Nobel Prize winner whose protagonist in  Humboldt's Gift is based on Schwartz’s character.

I conclude here with my own tribute to the Litman family by posting Schwartz’s poetic dialogue -

Father And Son

Father:
On these occasions, the feelings surprise,
Spontaneous as rain, and they compel
Explicitness, embarrassed eyes——


Son:
Father, you’re not Polonius, you’re reticent,
But sure. I can already tell
The unction and falsetto of the sentiment
Which gratifies the facile mouth, but springs
From no felt, had, and wholly known things.


Father:
You must let me tell you what you fear
When you wake up from sleep, still drunk with sleep:
You are afraid of time and its slow drip,
Like melting ice, like smoke upon the air
In February’s glittering sunny day.
Your guilt is nameless, because its name is time,
Because its name is death. But you can stop
Time as it dribbles from you, drop by drop.

Son:
But I thought time was full of promises,
Even as now, the emotion of going away——

Father:
That is the first of all its menaces,
The lure of a future different from today;
All of us always are turning away
To the cinema and Asia. All of us go
To one indeterminate nothing.

Son:
Must it be so?
I question the sentiment you give to me,
As premature, not to be given, learned alone
When experience shrinks upon the chilling bone.
I would be sudden now and rash in joy,
As if I lived forever, the future my toy.
Time is a dancing fire at twenty-one,
Singing and shouting and drinking to the sun,
Powerful at the wheel of a motor-car,
Not thinking of death which is foreign and far.

Father:
If time flowed from your will and were a feast
I would be wrong to question your zest.
But each age betrays the same weak shape.
Each moment is dying. You will try to escape
From melting time and your dissipating soul
By hiding your head in a warm and dark hole.
See the evasions which so many don,
To flee the guilt of time they become one,
That is, the one number among masses,
The one anonymous in the audience,
The one expressionless in the subway,
In the subway evening among so many faces,
The one who reads the daily newspaper,
Separate from actor and act, a member
Of public opinion, never involved.
Integrated in the reverie of a fine cigar,
Fleeing to childhood at the symphony concert,
Buying sleep at the drugstore, grandeur
At the band concert, Hawaii
On the screen, and everywhere a specious splendour:
One, when he is sad, has something to eat,
An ice cream soda, a toasted sandwich,
Or has his teeth fixed, but can always retreat
From the actual pain, and dream of the rich.
This is what one does, what one becomes
Because one is afraid to be alone,
Each with his own death in the lonely room.
But there is a stay. You can stop
Time as it dribbles from you, drop by drop.

Son:
Now I am afraid. What is there to be known?

Father:
Guilt, guilt of time, nameless guilt.
Grasp firmly your fear, thus grasping your self,
Your actual will. Stand in mastery,
Keeping time in you, its terrifying mystery.
Face yourself, constantly go back
To what you were, your own history.
You are always in debt. Do not forget
The dream postponed which would not quickly get
Pleasure immediate as drink, but takes
The travail of building, patience with means.
See the wart on your face and on your friend’s face,
On your friend’s face and indeed on your own face.
The loveliest woman sweats, the animal stains
The ideal which is with us like the sky ...

Son:
Because of that, some laugh, and others cry.

Father:
Do not look past and turn away your face.
You cannot depart and take another name,
Nor go to sleep with lies. Always the same,
Always the same self from the ashes of sleep
Returns with its memories, always, always,
The phoenix with eight hundred thousand memories!

Son:
What must I do that is most difficult?

Father:
You must meet your death face to face,
You must, like one in an old play,
Decide, once for all, your heart’s place.
Love, power, and fame stand on an absolute
Under the formless night and the brilliant day,
The searching violin, the piercing flute.
Absolute! Venus and Caesar fade at that edge,
Hanging from the fiftieth-story ledge,
Or diminished in bed when the nurse presses
Her sickening unguents and her cold compresses.
When the news is certain, surpassing fear,
You touch the wound, the priceless, the most dear.
There in death’s shadow, you comprehend
The irreducible wish, world without end.

Son:
I begin to understand the reason for evasion,
I cannot partake of your difficult vision.

Father:
Begin to understand the first decision.
Hamlet is the example; only dying
Did he take up his manhood, the dead’s burden,
Done with evasion, done with sighing,
Done with reverie.
Decide that you are dying
Because time is in you, ineluctable
As shadow, named by no syllable.
Act in that shadow, as if death were now:
Your own self acts then, then you know.

Son:
My father has taught me to be serious.

Father:
Be guilty of yourself in the full looking-glass.

-----------

© Natalie Wood (23 November 2015)

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Where the Cage Bird Was Forced to Sing

 Sebastian de IradierWhen the Basque composer,  Sebastian de Iradier composed La Paloma - his  universally loved habanera (Cuban dance melody) - little could he envisage that one day it would be used to accompany a grotesque death march.

But this is what happened when Jewish jazz musician Heinz (‘Coco’) Schumann was incarcerated at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and was forced to play the song by the side of the ramp that sent streams of fellow inmates to their deaths.

 “I've played La Paloma all my life. It's a great piece”, he says, “really great, and I love it, but it doesn't get under my skin. Thank God. Otherwise I couldn't play it now”. Coco.Schumann

Like countless other Holocaust survivors, the German-Jewish drummer and guitarist repressed his dreadful experiences for almost a half-century before being persuaded to recount them.

He has since appeared in a documentary and written a memoir that has been translated into English and will be published on 01 January 2016.

But here I’m concentrating on the history of the song, which was composed after Iradier visited Cuba circa 1860:

“In Zanzibar they play it at the end of weddings, in Romania at the end of funerals, in Mexico as a protest song, and in Germany as a sailor’s lament. Written a century and a half ago … and first performed in Cuba, La Paloma — the most frequently played song in the world — has circled the globe like a dove to touch listeners’ hearts with longing”.

The oldest recording of the song, made on a metal disc between 1883 and 1890, is kept in Havana's Museum of Music. It is said that the song's rhythm defines the style of the habanera, a popular music genre in the 19th century and which first gained admirers in Mexico and Hawaii. It was then performed by a wide range of singers ranging from pop stars to jazz artistes and even opera singers.

In the 1939 Romanian film Juarez the song is played for the dead and consoles the bereaved throughout the Hapsburg Empire and to this day in Romania the song is played at funerals.

Then the tune somehow arrived in  Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa and while older locals insist it was there before they were born,  it is unarguable that the melody of La Paloma accompanies the words of the marriage ceremony.

 

“The Dove

When I left Havana, help me God!

nobody saw me leaving, it was just I.

And a pretty artful-flatterer, there I go!

she just was after me, yes sir, she was.

(Refrain)
If to your window happens to come a dove,
treat it with loving care, for it's my own.
Tell her your love affairs, my loving one,
and crown her with flowers, for she is mine.

Ay, chinita, that's right,
Ay, please give me your love,
Ay, you come with me,
chinita, to wherever is my home.

Ay, chinita, that's right,
Ay, please give me your love,
Ay, you come with me,
chinita, to wherever is my home.

 

** The Ghetto Swinger: A Berlin Jazz-Legend Remembers
by Coco Schumann is published in English translation by DoppelHouse Press @ US $24.95.

© Natalie Wood 08 November 2015)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Most Beloved One of All

(Prompted by a translation of a Greek poem inscribed on the wall of the burial cave at Beit Guvrin, south of Jerusalem).

Betrothed to Me Forever

On a fruitless day in a place

whose faded paths forever

bode autumn, I stumbled on

a lover’s note scrawled upon a wall.

Beit Guvrin Burial Cave Inscription

“I write wrapped tight in your dear

cloak”, it read, “just as fast as once

you clasped me in your arms.

“But grasp this well. Should

we be allowed to meet but once

again, we must barely bend our

heads in greeting.

“No shared smile, no slight sign that

in another place we were ever

more than fleeting friends.

“After those things – terrible things

– nought remains that I may do to

please you.

“So while I sleep with someone else,

I beg as you read my words, let

me flee while I allow you breadth

of freedom.

“In return, neither scream nor

strike this wall in anger. Believe

instead that I vow in Aphrodite’s name

we will be in eternity like lovers new –

betrothed as if forever.

“In sum, it is you I love. You’ll

always be my most beloved

one of all”.

Mark.UlyseasThis piece first appeared in Volume 3 of the December 2015 edition of Live Encounters magazine as Betrothed to Me Forever(http://liveencounters.net/2015/10/31/live-encounters-magazine-vol-3-december-2015-2/) edited by Mark Ulyseas, a faithful supporter of Israel and all matters Jewish.

© Natalie Wood (31 October 2015)

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Jewish Poet of Sri Lanka

The great swaths of immigrants currently flooding Europe will soon learn that they’ll make and re-make their lives a dozen times over before finding some sense of place, let alone a sense of peace.

Anne.RanasingheThis is part of the refugee experience and sadly is very often how artistes are made. It most certainly helped to shape  prize-winning poet Anne  Ranasinghe (neé Anneliese Katz) whose parents were murdered by the Nazis after they sent her to safety in England on the Kindertransport. 

Born in Essen, Germany, she went on to study midwifery but later changed careers to concentrate on writing. But what must be described as a novel twist in a familiar plot emerged when Ranasinghe met and married a Sri Lankan doctor, Don Abraham Ranasinghe. She then emigrated to Sri Lanka where she helped to raise her husband’s three children from a previous marriage as well as the four they had together.

Anne Ranasinghe took Sri Lankan citizenship in the fifties and has now lived there for 60 years. So it is little surprise that the Holocaust along with a sympathetic look at others’ alienation and minority persecution are frequent subjects in her poetry.

Sri.Lanka.1983

Anne Ranasinghe is an overseas member of Israel’s English language poetry society, Voices Israel and fellow members are delighted that her life story is being broadcast throughout October on Caesarea Al HaGal on Channel 98 each Monday at 3:30 p.m. and again on Thursday at 10:00 p.m.

 

 

"Auschwitz from Colombo

“Colombo. March. The city white fire
That pours through vehement trees burst into flame,
And only a faint but nearing wind
Stirring the dust
From relics of foreign invaders, thrown

“On this far littoral by chance or greed,
Their stray memorial the odd word mispronounced,
A book of laws,
A pile of stones
Or may be some vile deed.

“Once there was another city, but there
It was cold - the trees leafless
And already thin ice on the lake.

“It was that winter
Snow hard upon the early morning street
And frost flowers carved in hostile window panes -
It was that winter

“Yet only yesterday
Half a world away and twenty-five years later
I learn of the narrow corridor
And at the end a hole, four feet by four
Through which they pushed them all - the children too
Straight down a shaft of steel thirteen feet long
And dark and icy cold
Onto the concrete floor of what they called
The strangling room. Dear God, the strangling room,

“Where they were stunned - the children too -
By heavy wooden mallets,
Garrotted, and then impaled
On pointed iron hooks.

“I am glad of the un-echoing street
Burnt white in the heat of many tropical years,
For the mind, no longer sharp,
Seared by the tropical sun
Skims over the surface of things
Like the wind
That stirs but slightly the ancient dust”.

(From Against eternity and darkness: [poems] Paperback – 1985)

© Natalie Wood (16 October 2015)

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Days of Rage

Some traditions believe that when one dreams of the skies raining stones or blood, it foretells disaster; a punishment for sin. (http://dreamingthedreams.com/meanings/rain%20stones/)

Raining Stones

stones raining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The people demanded rain.

So I dreamed a dream in which

the winds blew and the dew fell,

each drop shining like stones on

a monarch’s jewelled diadem.

This was for a blessing.

I raised my arms, bore my

hands aloft and prayed.

I, even I could make the

waters fall!

 

First came a small spit, pushed

by a larger spot, chased by a

greater splash that rushed into a

stream which unfurled and spread

shimmering smooth; a virginal

lake of watered silk, stilled by

easy expectation.

 

This too, was for a blessing.

 

Then the sun blazed angry;

the waters ebbed and the people

moaned. We’d been twice cursed.

 

So I dreamed another dream.

Again I raised my arms, bore my

hands aloft and prayed. But now

there was no gleam. No water fell.

 

Instead the winds howled and

a harsh-worded harpy screeched

that we had sinned.

 

This is for a curse.

Stones.Woman.Terrorist

Yet the rains came. First, fell

tiny crystals that became

pebbles which hurtled into

rocks that dashed into boulders

which crushed us hailstone small.

Now Israel bleeds.

 

This too, is for a curse.

© Natalie Wood (13 October 2015)

Friday, 9 October 2015

Herschel Silverman –‘Beat Poet Candy Man’

Below is a clip of a reading by US Beat poet Herschel Silverman who died last month aged 89.

If you rub your chin and confide that his name does not readily spring to mind along side those of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and co, then you’re in good company!

How could the humdrum, stable life of a sweet shop owner with a wife and children to support possibly compete with those of the crazed but starred founders of the beat generation?

Even the obituarist in The Telegraph wrote that Silverman worked “to little fanfare” while running his ‘luncheonette’, Hersch’s Beehive, in New Jersey.

But he became a long-time pen-pal of Ginsberg and his verse developed to combine Beat themes like jazz with details from his domestic life. So while influenced by his better known peers, he managed to produce what Ginsberg called an “inventive energy, New Jersey beauty and charm in his compositions”.

Herschel.SilvermanThis excerpt from Nite Train Poems as discussed on CultureCatch  displays Silverman’s skill for raising the mundane to the level of art:

i run away in mind

                         in nite train

again and again

                         and again

something bugging me

                         money maybe

a need to scream   to cry out

                         and curse with verbs

     to release the utter   Frustration

                        of a rent due

     and electric gas bill --

     the lack of tears so inhibiting

            the train carrying me

     filling with a nervous gas

                 the hang-ups

          coming to a halt

                 for a while

          in a bottle of Fleischman's

               and some ginger ale

I conclude with an excerpt from  Section VI of Jazz & the Changes, which the poet dedicated to his wife, neé Laura Rothschild and addressed to her:

“i told her

there's no Jazz

Real Jazz

without Gut

without Love

or Zen statement

no ear

without Jazz

no Jazz without Ear,

that Jazz is the daily statement

an unincorporated

release

      of the condition of

an individual's soul

                              in relation

      to God”

[*The four poems in the recording, documented by Mitch Corber, are Crazy She Called Me, Cittee Cittee Cittee, For Jim Brodey and To Construct the Blues for Moe. Perry Robinson is on clarinet.]

© Natalie Wood (09 October 2015)

Friday, 2 October 2015

This Dinner Guest’s Personal Exodus?

Anat.HoffmanEven as a strong IRAC (Israel Religion Action Centre) supporter and its feisty director, Anat Hoffman I can’t agree with everything she and her organisation do.

In the past week, for example, I felt more embarrassed than engaged when she used her newsletter, The Pluralist, to suggest that the tradition of ‘inviting’ historical guests to celebrate the festival of Succot be widened to include “seven Israeli-Arab and Palestinian treasures, including  performers, politicians, and poets”. 

Ali.Salem Perhaps I’m not alone in feeling it’s the wrong time to mix religion and politics and that anyway her choice was rather arbitrary. Why did she not, for example, include the much-admired Egyptian writer, Ali Salem who had been widely ostracised by his fellow countrymen after visiting Israel in 1994 and died during September aged 79?

But never mind! It’s given me a reason to look at the work of one of Hoffman’s proposed ‘guests’, Taha Muhammad Ali, a Palestinian poet and short story writer who lived in Lebanon with his family during the 1948 Israel War of Independence  but went on to spend the rest of his life in Nazareth where he owned a souvenir shop. He died there in 2011.

The Poetry Foundation says of Ali: “Self-taught through his readings of classical Arabic literature, American fiction, and English poetry, Ali started writing poems in the 1970s. His collections in English include Never Mind: Twenty Poems and a Story (2000) and So What: New and Selected Poems, 1971–2005 (2006).

Adina Hoffman’s biography of Ali, My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century, won the 2010 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize.

ExodusTaha Muhammed Ali

 

“The street is empty

as a monk’s memory,

and faces explode in the flames

like acorns—

and the dead crowd the horizon

and doorways.

No vein can bleed

more than it already has,

no scream will rise

higher than it’s already risen.

We will not leave!

 

“Everyone outside is waiting

for the trucks and the cars

loaded with honey and hostages.

We will not leave!

The shields of light are breaking apart

before the rout and the siege;

outside, everyone wants us to leave.

But we will not leave!

 

“Ivory white brides

behind their veils

slowly walk in captivity’s glare, waiting,

and everyone outside wants us to leave,

but we will not leave!

 

“The big guns pound the jujube groves,

destroying the dreams of the violets,

extinguishing bread, killing the salt,

unleashing thirst

and parching lips and souls.

And everyone outside is saying:

“What are we waiting for?

Warmth we’re denied,

the air itself has been seized!

Why aren’t we leaving?”

Masks fill the pulpits and brothels,

the places of ablution.

Masks cross-eyed with utter amazement;

they do not believe what is now so clear,

and fall, astonished,

writhing like worms, or tongues.

We will not leave!

 

“Are we in the inside only to leave?

Leaving is just for the masks,

for pulpits and conventions.

Leaving is just

for the siege-that-comes-from-within,

the siege that comes from the Bedouin’s loins,

the siege of the brethren

tarnished by the taste of the blade

and the stink of crows.

We will not leave!

 

“Outside they’re blocking the exits

and offering their blessings to the impostor,

praying, petitioning

Almighty God for our deaths”.

  © Natalie Wood (02 October 2015)