November 16, 2023

Poetry is my Response to War.

October 7, 2023—Jerusalem

At around 6:30 a.m., I’m woken up by loud sirens while housesitting with a friend in Jerusalem.

Rousing myself from the midst of a terrible dream, I awoke into a nightmare. We stumbled, bleary eyed, into the basement, which led into a bomb shelter, coaxing the dog to come. He was trembling. His brother was oblivious, sleeping still outside, too old and therefor blessedly deaf to hear the sirens.

The blessings of the old, the deaf in this circumstance, the blessings of a dog body in a dog mind in a dog soul.

And it continued most of the day: confusion, terror, denial, crankiness, disbelief, more sirens. A strange and eerie silence on the morning of shabbat, normally quiet, unplugged, un-televised. A day of rest and peace.

But how can there be rest and peace in this place? How can there be calm and quiet in the eye of a hurricane?

October 16, 2023—Amsterdam

I flew to a friend I hadn’t seen in three decades. I wasn’t thinking, I was over-thinking. I was over-feeling. I was feeling the silent vibration of fear in my chest and belly, in my soul.

This imperceptible sound swept through my every thought. My every breath. My food. My steps. My eyes. My days. I walked through the city in a waking dystopia. I was in a free place but my inner self was still in the bomb shelter. The ridiculous sirens of the Netherland ambulances were cute, quaint. The sweet sounds of ambulances in a faraway place.

All the news, not looking, watching, reading, hearing. Just Facebook and friends, their reactions, memes, responses. Elfriede Jelinek, the Viennese feminist playwright, watched television obsessively. She immersed herself as a numbing, numbering fantasies to replace the multiplication of thoughts that filled her mind and pages, as the child of a country which bore the manufacturers of death. The German language, the Hebrew language, Yiddish is their step-child.

I proliferate, my words multiply. Poetry, as Carolyn Forché so eloquently explained, is a trauma response. Poetry is the only response.

Mahmoud Darwish. Taha Muhammad Ali. Poets hold Earth’s body, testimony. Don’t binge the war porn on the nightly news, if you can help it. Take care of your precious soul, and mix just enough images of blood, light, and war sounds to startup your inner poet, artist, musician.

Create something as a response to this moment on earth—our precious Mother Earth, who can’t read her own poems.

What you create will outlive you. It will feed someone peace.


war is a lithograph

because earth is a stone, 

seismic booms engrave her surface

with golden and silver light

replete with gravel and valley 

only the gods can read her fragment  

October 22, 2023—Amsterdam


Earth in a land of gods

Devoid of gender, devoid of nouns and grammar

Gods in a land spelling literatures of deceased demigods

The gods of many gods one god of many 

The monocle of a one-eyed god the singularity

Of bloody minded mindfulness 

Of the one male god issues forth 

From the one male organ tip

The wounded spear the broken rip

One thought gone mad made a war 

One obsessive thought that thought

Of itself its blinded self 

Earth in a land of male gods 

She is a young girl planet green and blue

Who cannot see the back of her own head

Relied too much on the goodwill of strangers

Uncles and fathers with mothers and lovers

Sisters and mothers with lovers and brothers

Siblings and cousins with flowers and feathers

Birds in a flock crows in a murder

The pastoral light of a fallen soldier

The hummingbird drone of a warship 

Men take refuge in the nature of war

Their nature is the war room so called Eden

Men take nature as the war in that room 

The biblical narrative the tyrant the excuse

Too many words to make sense of

Taking up space taking in matter 

The rubbish the carnage of stories

The saga the trauma of cells

November 16, 2023—London


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