Selected poems from
Sirocco and Scorpions:
Poems of Israel and Palestine
In My Green Town
In my green town,
sea meets lime rocks,
sends its emissary, the sand,
to do battle with the black soil
of rich watermelon fields.
Red clay slides into gravel mounds by Olga Beach.
Foursome of soils merges at the edge of an almond grove.
West wind scatters gravel between carob trees.
School kids dance on the dunes,
smoke eucalyptus roots that jut out of ant mounds.
An old army post wall collapses into limestone
across from a rusty boat stuck in cucumber fields.
After the rain, red earth bleeds on thorns.
The paper mill pipes pollute,
dark clumps cover the almond grove.
Mice are busy in fresh-ploughed fields,
a tractor sends them scampering between the rocks.
Kids build black, red, gray towers.
A combine scares them, destroys the towers,
throws gravel and golden grains up in the air.
Kids roast potatoes and almonds,
throw roots and rocks in the fire.
The watchman yells, chases them,
and they scatter.
They come back and steal watermelons from the fields,
eat the hearts, and pile them up on the road.
The watchman fires salt bullets, they curse,
drop their sandals, run in the hot sand,
munch on brown carob seeds in the grove,
skid through red mud to the bank’s black soil.
At sunset, sand advances over black soil,
riverbanks and wheat fields.
Sand overwhelms fisheries,
coats and sparkles on the rocks.
Threesome soil defeated by sand in the grove,
on riverbanks, almond trees and fields.
Kids jump up and down on sand covered rocks.
Sand columns sneak up at night
dispatched by the sea,
Wind exacting revenge on the sand,
throws it back to the sea.
Waves still laugh.
Bearded black shepherds
are granite rocks with stubbles.
Their guttural commands herd the sheep
into the monastery courtyard
where Israeli soldiers play
The abbot guards with his body
hundreds of cages of labeled bones.
Shepherds shear sheep.
Wool blankets the cobbled yard.
Bent monks copy Latin manuscripts, chant incantations.
Shepherds play string rababas, singing hoarsely.
Smoke smelly cigarettes, drink bitter coffee with cardamom.
Soldiers yell profanities, kicking skulls into goalposts.
At midnight, hermits light fires by their cells
on the peaks of Mount Moses.
Thunder rumbles between Sinai and Katarina Mountains.
Rain-streaked granite rocks
are wrinkled old shepherds.
At 4 am, blond children fathered by monks
run up and down the three thousand crooked steps.
Rocks roll down.
At dawn, granite-dewed rocks
are bearded, bleary-eyed shepherds.
covers Mount Moses.
Lost pilgrims’ cries echo.
Monastery yard littered
with broken bones and
Witches’ brooms, twisted thorns, circled by crooked pines.
Under a giant fig tree canopy,
Elijah slaughters pagan priests.
Force-feeds them pomegranate seeds.
Dwarf palm trees drink the? blood that covers
luscious soil, smelling of goats’ dung,
growing huge watermelons and pumpkins.
Via Maris rushes the tenth Roman legion
to Jerusalem to crush a revolt.
Dunes with bloody veins climb up
Mount Carmel, slashed by quarries.
Lightning and shepherds set fire
to ancient oaks, falling to valley.
Crawling coals tumble down the mountain.
Scouts roast stolen potatoes and pine nuts on them.
Fires jump off rocks
to extinguish the sea.
Buried witches’ brooms and pines
breathe fire quietly.
Plot a comeback with snakes and lizards.
and sparkling pomegranate seeds
adorn priests’ heads.
Roll down to the Bay of Haifa,