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Also in this issue, Lisa's translations from the Hebrew of:

Sharron Hass

Agi Mishol

Rami Saari

Lisa Katz's electronic chapbook Breast Art

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To Email Admiel Kosman

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“Games” appeared in A View From the Loft, March 2001.

“I told the Jerusalem city watchmen” is forthcoming in Leviathan Quarterly/England

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More work by this writer can be found in Poetry International #4 (San Diego State University 2000), and on the UN Dialogue Among Civilizations Through Poetry website pages 706-716.

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Kosman's column, a post-modern view of midrash, appears in the Friday edition of Israel's leading newspaper, whose English version may be found at: www.haaaretzdaily.com

Admiel Kosman Admiel Kosman



Games

I have a mobile phone in my mouth,
he also has one, a military one,
like mine, but with a different mouthpiece.
We are playing games with the language bag,
Hebrew and Arabic,
we are punching the language bag
with little smacks of hatred,
the Hebrew bag,
and the Arabic bag,
landing little blows
in order to see
if the mouthpiece
will suddenly break into bits;
we are shaking the language bag
making experiments,
torturing cats a little,
and why? Just
in order to see
if the language will finally learn something
from a few kicks, a few blows;
how many blows can the language live with?
Is it a Hebrew cat, or an Arabic one?
It doesn't matter, we are learning to kick,
to beat the mobile phone very hard.
How many blows can it take?
Whether it is Arabic or Hebrew
doesn't matter.
We are playing games,
conducting experiments, in order to see
whether it is made of steel or plain metal.
It doesn't matter, we shoot a bit too
in the games.
Because I have a mobile phone,
he has one too, and the two of us play.
Both of our mouthpieces are broken now,
the Hebrew and the Arabic;
it doesn't matter what we break,
perhaps the mouthpiece is different,
but broken to bits,
perhaps it's a similar mouthpiece,
just a little different, built differently.
A Hebrew or an Arabic mouthpiece, to whom does it matter
what it says,
and which way it turns.
The main thing is that the mouthpiece is afraid.
Here at the end of games,
we will break the circles open,
and then we will all
descend the hills
in bags,
the officers and the soldiers too.



I told the Jerusalem city watchman

I told the Jerusalem city watchman that my beloved lives here.
But I didn't have any proof. I forgot everything,
my name and my place of origin,
the name of my mountainous country
and the site of the distant and foreign land
from which I came to the gates of the city
where she rests
in tranquility,
my beloved!

I told the Jerusalem city watchman that my beloved lives here.
The Jerusalem city watchman consulted, on his walkie-talkie,
the guard outside the Gate of Water, but
oh no! I wasn't carrying my papers!
I had only two tablets,
two tablets of a loving heart,
of a loving heart, very heavy,
made of marble.

What am I to do?
Please tell me, my watchmen,
good watchmen, guards, defenders of the city,
good old boys.
I didn't have a photo in my pocket,
nor a paper document,

only iron certificates,
certificates in stone,
crumbling historical limestone documents.

Watchmen! Guards of the Western Wall!
My watchmen! Guards of the city
where she rests now
in her bed
in tranquility
my beloved!

You, you — watchmen devoted to your task,
deployed now at the portals in the walls.
Listen, listen,
I'm calling on you for help
from the outskirts of the city.

Could you please
just wake her
up — just for a minute —
my beauty —

my beauty
sleeping now
in tranquility
inside my city, mine,
in her bed?

Please, one of you guards of the city of Jerusalem,
Call to her! Wake her up! With a cordless or a mobile phone!
Watchers of the city, heroes and soldiers!
Please, please, call to her
to come to me right now.

Perhaps she's ready?
Perhaps she's already dripping with frankincense
and myrrh?

And wrapped —
for me alone —
in a night-
gown?

Perhaps I'll see
her,
now?
Perhaps she'll lift her glance
to me —

from behind barbed wire?


Translated from the Hebrew by Lisa Katz Lisa Katz