And poetry is a gun moll
in the back seat of an American car.
Her eyes pressed like triggers, her pistol hair firing blond
bullets down her neck.
Let’s say her name is Mary, Bloody Mary,
words squeeze out of her mouth like the juicy guts of a tomato
whose face was knifed just beforehand
on the salad plate.
She knows that grammar is the police force of language—
her earring transmitter
detects the siren at a distance.
The steering wheel will shift the car from question mark
when she’ll open the door
and stand on the curb as a metaphor for the word
I have two confessions to make.
The first is that I’ve never read Amos Oz before. For an Israeli, this is quite shameful. I’m not sure why or how it happened, but somehow, even though everyone I know has read at least some of his work, I’ve managed to miss out on his books. I’ve never had anything against him or any reason to avoid him. I’ve only ever heard brilliant things about him. So how did this happen? Maybe because there was always some other required reading for most of my high school and college years. Maybe because at some point I’d accumulated more books than I could keep up with and had no room for a new author in my life. After a while, I just accepted this shortcoming.
The second confession is that the idea of life on a kibbutz never appealed to me. Though I’ve always considered myself a socialist, or at least prone to socialism, I seemed to have skipped the naïve fascination kibbutz life holds for young Israelis, and headed straight towards cynicism and cringing. I’ve been exposed mostly to art that portrays kibbutz childhoods as traumatic—having to sleep separately from your parents, everyone knowing the details of your life, having not one thing which is entirely your own. Things didn’t look too good for adults, either: conformity was valued and independent thought discouraged. The good of the place, of the community as a concept, was held in higher regard than the well-being of the individuals that made up that community. All of these were elements I felt lucky to have avoided. I’m writing in past tense because this classic idea of a kibbutz is a fading one.
A soda machine burns outside a grocery store
and all the Pepsi and the Coke (diet, too) and the Sprite
Explode in all directions like grenades.
The village of Markabe is burnt and bombed like in a war movie.
And like in a war movie
there’s the guy who carries a heavy jerrycan on his back
and the guy with the cigarette between his teeth
and the guy called Nir
and the guy who’s going to die and doesn’t know it so he allows himself to reminisce about that time when