I am watching the hills. Watching the shore.
And the sun.
I’m a thousand years old. Or more.
Go and sort that one out.
Here I freed my roots.
They wandered, finding a course.
Meted out
All my names — like leaves from boughs.

I am gazing.
And my eyes make revisions to first recollections.
I am asking —
And matter contracts under words.
It’s so easy to say
What defies any later correction.
Avoiding mistakes — learn to listen to love first.

I am turning my back, so the sunset can alter my shadow.
To spare the fresh shoots from heat.
Mounting wind. And the valley chosen by rainfall.
Has this really happened to me?
Yes, over the country
The torrent is rolling truthfully.
A hovering stormcloud, the temperature far from a boil.

As the centuries pass I distinguish more clearly —
From the walls of the Kremlin and Egypt, until the Third temple.
May the one who brings souls to account
Let this count
And not stumble but find the sum.

(translated by James Manteith)

In the Shadow of stones

A remembered light aglow.
Sunset on a white stone mirror.
Hills. Their line’s slow ebb to “no”
At the horizon. City taut on stretcher bars,
Time. History resounds, straight to the blood.
Here I’ve been both lord and chattel.
I’m a particle of these bowed heads
Below an open sky,
Builders of coasts of good
With meter, rhyme,
Their prayer.
Pilgrims. Cats. Kids.
Footworn tiles of streets now bare.

I’m here as I have been before, but not.
A landlord who has dropped by as a guest. Just
Hard-pressed by memory. In that, the old lapserdak
Tailoring for height, hangs shapeless.
I’m cast
Out to the Western Wall’s lee,
Plaza shallows,
Suddenly, by no one.
I, an unborn son of my own country — Jerusalem.

Now an unseen ray has found me out
Through fissures into stonework.
Into somewhere I have been and not been yet,
The start, dry residue, that part
I could, returning,
Find my stone and, leaning,
Feel that I am with the people
When, through the arch of gateways never founded,
My gaze would clearly spy the core of the celestial
As time’s continuum, and not the other way around.

Like blocks of walls mapped out along a ruler,
Ages lie. These not mine to span.
I skim along the city like the sun.
Like an alley climbing stairsteps, passing towers.
Here I prayed, lived.
Now hold my tongue.

(translated by James Manteith)


The key is having music and a theme.
The rest is only exercising craft.
And a pen — an oar clutched in a raft.
Below it, paper rapids, frothy streams.
Harmony a chisel honing pain
And pain knitting a scar — and that is all.
And time, turning its span against the grain,
Is seized. Has stalled.

(translated by James Manteith)


I follow a narrow ridge.
To the right and the left, abysses.
The floor of them simply
Frightful, or I might’ve just frozen stiff.
Stars concealed by cloud canopies.
Wind gusts, feet fight for balance.
This is the kind of road where
Every step persists,
Seared as an scene in my brain.
It burns like a branding.
But it sometimes happens
When sunrise clears the ridgeline —
The wind
Quiets then.
And over the snow I run.

(translated by James Manteith)


Bodies physically remote in space
Don't yet signal separation.
And if protuberant rays
Send us sun disjointedly —
That's no cue for lamentation.
Separation is your aching knee
When I can't soothe it. Or fruit's meat
Unconsumed because
It's where you're not.
Or the kitchen smudge
Unseen, unlit.
It's a glassful of the vacuum,
An empty nightcap generously plied.
It's the dry citrus rind
Of objective causes not for my memory.
Put such tension on our string that besides
It vibrating
All other sound fades.
Is a surgery
On living memory,
Altering a face.
I'm startled by a knocking at the door.
Or did I wake?

(translated by James Manteith)

To a Son


My voice is a weak one.
More like a whisper.
Short lives of words not yet done.
Wisdom won't let me mend errors.
No redoing a failed lesson.
The outcome
Of your motions: a backhand
Hurts. Parried
Only into vapor.
And the fission
In your words, speaking only past,
Transfixes memory.
I trust the paper
Sheet more
Than your eyes.
What I read in them
Is like a worn
Seam ripping, mis-sized.
I model it
On a living form.

My voice is weak. Through rap and metal's wall,
No windows sawn.
Where is love's renewal?
The lowest
Place must look like this — bleak hopelessness
Denoting a low layer.
Ah yes, and also lengthiness.
So not even a shout disturbs the sleeper.
This voice truly a weak one.

(translated by James Manteith)

To a son


I'm studying the subject of dispassion.
I test suffering's depth with meaning's plummet.
But sunk to its full length, it slumps.
Without tapping the bottom for propulsion
Toward surface, light, transition.
I wield the magic of forgiveness,
Cast spells for shouts' repression.

I'm changing days and dates of past events.
I'm seeking the wrong turn in history.
Where everything will later have its origin,
To freeze in time and for eternity.

(translated by James Manteith)


This axle's a joke —
In a mile I'll bend a rim.
A dislodged spoke,
Protruding, snags my hem.
I rode this far. Now maybe I'll leave the machine,
Continue on foot, course set on the moonshine.

Don't be so sure the moon's beyond my reach.
I well recall the old family film, that scene —
If the pedals are spun with belief
(Spun even lightly),
The moon's a quick trip. Thanks for that, E.T.

So what if I'm done saddle-hopping
To coast downhill no-handed, as of olde?
I'm not old.
But hiking up the lunar path is awkward,
Back skinned and prodded by the bars and bulb.

(translated by James Manteith)


Is it right when a halberd of silence
Chops an animate thing with a flourish?
A swivel. A clean sweep. Shoulders guiding
An accurate swipe?
Half-satanic with horror,
Or maybe with desperation,
As this miracle, come as a gift, refuses to die?

Now our arms are bathed up to the elbows!
And how is this better, my dear, than
Live and let live? Our flesh won't
Mesh in caresses. Joy's anthem,
Alas, won't sing us. Just lame versifying,
Autumn leaf fall,
Rustling gusts in the night.
Among all simple yearnings,
A lone hope — read what I write!
Even if this too is futile.

(translated by James Manteith)

* * *

Fate's performing us like music.
And pain's accommodated in this chord.
Beneath the maker's fingers. What is ruining
Your mood today?
We're tributes to one nature.
Notes don't know the play's denouement.
Together we are pressed. Such designs
The score of fates records.
You're lofty sound.
I'm rattling of tableware
Still smeared. Bottles of beer.
Let the verdict
Come from anyone
With ears — do tunes form from these notes?
A chord is sounding from us. Above, recitativo:
Words resentful, words mistaken.
Absurd! See, I'm embracing
You. Harmonies merge into one.
The universe made slightly more profound.

(translated by James Manteith)