Magazine article World Literature Today

Three Poems

Magazine article World Literature Today

Three Poems

Article excerpt

Isabella Sleeps with the Dogs

Isabella asked where are the dogs

she slept with dogs dreamt dogs

in a raging storm,

there were no dogs in our house or in any other

but Isabella kept looking for the dogs.

And no, this wasn't our house

but a room where house is possible

where love is possible,

but every time it rained

we walked around the room and threw stones.

Isabella sleeps with the dogs

sowing a bone for roaming

we walked just like her

from house to house

and when it rained we only found branches.

Black dogs take their rest

with Isabella, coiled

on her woolen breasts,

her nipped flesh, they know everything.

I sat in the street and saw the two of us

or maybe I only saw the escape

I knocked with the branches knocked hard

at each door, there was no house

the storms came and went and blue sliced the sky.

The Mountains of Spain

I am writing what is impossible

because there are people who talk about money during sex

transferring through carnal channels

money I'll never receive

and I hear someone say, we sold for millions

I am listening to those blue metallic eyes

Back at home, I'm thinking that nice frames cost 1,000 shekels

and I'm thinking that on Wednesday at the employment office

I'll place my finger on a square and a red

beam will scan its ridges

and a machine will print out

the words: move along

there's no work. And I'll be happy.

It can't be

that next to money my head is as pretty

as a Russian princess

who's lost everything

suddenly, in the dark, in one fell swoop

and now drinks tea from a thermos and eats dried fruit

and lies on her back half the day in her old

ragged bathrobe reading English novels about English

ladies with destiny in their favor.

It can't be true that I've only just discovered

this innate, chronic refusal

to think about money, to charge, to want

to work for it. It's a curse

I inherited from my mother

along with my penchant for aesthetic pleasures

and that unholy union of wealth and beauty

not to mention a fancy for coffee served

in a coffee shop, and pastries and lace dresses.

All of this is so impossible

that it holds back thoughts of love and

lust and my will to breathe the air

after rain so much

that I'll lose myself in a book

called Cocaine Nights

and get mad when I read about people with

money, so much money

that they retire to the mountains of Spain

and sunbathe in fancy villas

at the age of thirty-eight.

How is it possible

that instead of lounging in these Spanish mountains

I am thinking about money in a studio

in Tel Aviv and it's raining and so what

I won't go looking for puddles

and make fun of tourists on lousy vacations.

No, it's impossible to listen

to that man talking about his millions and not want to die

to really die on the cover of my English novel

between chewed organic plums and a thermos of tea sitting

half empty.


Dad, I think your job killed you, when I was little you'd leave the house every morning at an ungodly hour and I would lie in bed with my heart pounding wanting to kill everyone even myself because you had to get up so early and drive and drive, your eyes really hurt, you'd put on special glasses, the sun blinded you and at night you couldn't see anything, and still you would drive like a faithful dog to that place, you were always loyal to your job, wherever it was: once it was Hassneh,1 where you managed an investment company that privatized and collapsed and your heart broke, after that you tried to be a free agent and you went to work at some Polish bank and then you decided to go back to a paycheck so you went to work for Koor Industries and it also privatized, and you were fired, and then you went to Africa to work for Solel Boneh2 and you had a nervous breakdown because of the Larium they prescribed to immunize from those African diseases, you'd call us crying, sounding lost and weak and small, I studied law, Mom broke her leg, I'd talk to you on the phone and calm you down, everything's okay I'd say, things seemed to be going well for you in the photographs, you flashed a tiny, private smile next to the big black woman on your right, next to the scooter you rode, next to the piles of fish that you eagerly ate but refused to eat at all in Israel, later the African branch closed and you came back and you were asked to manage an arm of Shikun binui (yet another Shari Arison company)3 and you were stressed out all the time because it was a grind at the end of a quarter and there was never a lull and you were never satisfied, and I never understood what you were doing except for all the pressure that you were under and everything was pressing and inflating from all that pressure and there was a chance that that place would burst and take the whole world with it, but you lived in a world apart and I had no part in it and it was your only world and you gave yourself to strangers and what was leftover was a late-night profile in front of TV screens that grew thinner and bigger and thinner and bigger with the years, Dad, Dad, I wanted to work with you, I wanted you to take me to work, to take me by the hand, to put me in charge of the books, I took extra math classes and got an A so that I would be good at bookkeeping but you never did, why didn't you get an A+? …

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