Translations in this issue:

Iris Le'al
Leah Rudnitsky
Ben Zion Tomer

Articles and poetry on the web:

"Life In Israel:" Whistle Press

Alsop Review

Visions: A Poetry 'zine at Ariga

Women Writers

To order Karen's books:

From Jerusalem Post Book Site

For the Love of Clothes and Nakedness

English Poetry from Israel



All titles at

Karen Alkalay-Gut



Ms. Karen Alkalay-Gut

Karen Alkalay-Gut

Dressing for Receptions

It's amazing how talk of clothes can win my heart.
Just now, for instance, at the cocktail party,
I made some remark about how hard it is
to suit ourselves to the codes. And Mary—
who I'd met only moments before—knew
exactly what I meant, and helped explain
to the cultural attaché. "Before I came here today,"
she said, "I had to decide what I would wear,
whether I could find something
to cover the fact of the weight I had gained,
and still look proper, right, for the occasion."

That's when I looked at her, not as I'd seen her before,
an elegant Arab woman in an ivory suit,
someone talking to the cultural attaché,
but a person with whom I could share a wardrobe.

Physical Mistress

This is my night for pure pleasure.

Seductively I slip into the scented bath
opposite my brilliant lover Archimedes.

"Watch the water!" he shouts,
"You're spilling it all out
with that incessant rocking of your hips!"

"It can't be the rocking alone," I cry,
"I'll bet it's my spectacular ass doing the work!"
"What would we scientists do,"
he replies, "without women like you?"

"Quick, just write it down
before you dry off,
so we can go on
to more permanent

The Storm

I am lying in Lear's lap in the meadow
weaving a garland and humming
the wind and the rain, and he is telling me
about his daughter, the one
who thinks so deep and loves
according to proper measure.

My lover loves me like Cordelia
loves you, I say, and I know
it's the right way. Still I wish
he could go all out.

Lear says nothing, looks out on the heath.
My late wife, he whispers, loved me
the way last night the lightning stripped the trees,
pulled off my masks and left me

Now I am king
of my self
and soon
will be dressed


Blue-haired Genya taught me all
I need to know of beauty.

I saw her one day, my mother's age,
painting her lips in the mirror
with such pleasure, deliberateness.

And after the careful blot
she smiled, with the satisfaction
of one who has completed
a masterpiece.