The Perceval Press Anthology of Verse 2009

September 2009


Language Says
Language says: Before Language
there stands a language. Language is tainted traces
from over there.
Language says: Listen, now.
You listen: There has been
an echo.
Take silence and try to be silent.
Take words and try to speak.
Beyond language, Language is a wound
from which the world flows and flows.
Language says: Is, Is not, Is,
Is not. Language says: I.
Language says: Let's speak you,
let's feel you, come say
you have said.
-Amir Or


The Barbarians (Round Two)
It was not in vain that we awaited the barbarians,
it was not in vain that we gathered in the city square.
It was not in vain that our great ones donned their official robes
and rehearsed their speeches for the event.
It was not in vain that we smashed our temples
and erected new ones to their gods;
as proper we burnt our books
that have nothing in them for people like that.
As the prophesy foretold the barbarians came,
and took the keys to the city from the king's hand.
But when they came they donned the garments of the land,
and their customs were the customs of the state;
and when they commanded us in our own tongue
we no longer knew when
the barbarians had come to us.
-Amir Or


speaking of a thirst that grows stronger
until I can't imagine
it anymore except

as the real thing which can't
be other than itself.

Beyond the kitchen wall, over there, in the world
things happen that are

the strong material reality woven of wild
lines, which are a sort of
urgency, of happenstance.

The music like a bright hand scatters slips of paper:
to the sun!

There is a parking space next to the gaze, we'll set out
from one material reality
to another
-Israel Eliraz


at the edge there is nothing but
music (we don't
know whether it's a local
fly or an infinite

In order to reveal itself to us
the music must talk
with itself alone.

It hovers and crosses over
the continent of the table over

the mounds of bread, orchards of parsley, furrows of celery
wine valley and cascades of honey.

And if the measure is filled with joy, we know
there is nothing greater than this
-Israel Eliraz


Shout of a Bedouin WomanA shout of a Bedouin woman from a Bedouin tribe
Which the state uprooted from their land
And replaced with camels made of iron
(I wrote her monologue from memory
After watching the news
Of Friday, 29 January '94)
"This is my land and this is my home
This is my land and this is my home
If only we could live and die on this land
We love our land so much
If only we could live and die on this land
If only, if only, if only

How can one live like this?
From all sides, closed
On one side the border guard
On one side the nature warden
On one side there is nowhere to go
On one side ---

I am a widow woman and have no saviour
I am a widow woman and have no saviour
I have no one but Allah

I have no one but Allah
Allah is my saviour
Allah is my only saviour
I cry and shout: people, do help me
But I have no one but Allah
Allah is my only saviour
Here is my land and here is my home
Here is my land and here is my home
Here was my fire
Here I used to cook, to make bread
Here is my fire
If only I could die on my land, if only
I shout and cry: people, do help me

But no one hears me"

-Ella Bat-Tsion
© Translation: Ella Bat-Tsion


Paired Things
Who, who had only seen wings,
could extrapolate the
skinny sticks of things
birds use for land,
the backward way they bend,
the silly way they stand?
And who, only studying
birdtracks in the sand,
could think those little forks
had decamped on the wind?
So many paired things seem odd.
Who ever would have dreamed
the broad winged raven of despair
would quit the air and go
bandylegged upon the ground,
a common crow?
-Kay Ryan


Trees appeared in groups and singly, revolving coolly and blandly, displaying the latest fashions. The blue dampness of a ravine. A memory of love, disguised as a meadow. Wispy clouds--the greyhounds of heaven.
-Vladimir Nabokov


Homes peeled from the riverbank
are swept away just like that.
It's not a movie, my dear,
but the terrors of weather.

Whoever is born now
may live to witness
an age of wonders:
bird flu, driving rain,
worlds coming to an end.

Whoever survives us
may one day see the poles free of snow,
iceless glaciers,
an island turned into an abyss
on the bottom of the ocean,
the mountain at the top of the range
a remote and forgotten shoal,
without any sign of my desire
for Elijah's cake
and his jar of water.

To me, in any case,
your face is
the most beautiful thing
when together we watch
the news of this world.

When the homes peel away from the riverbank
their inhabitants can't even drag
an aging grandmother on their backs
or carry a beloved dog in their arms.

And I'm not at all surprised
when I look at your face, my darling, my dog,
one touch of your tongue is worth more
than a thousand academics.
-Rami Saari


Red Bread
I look for sweets in his pockets
and find nails.
My mother bandages the wounds in his palms
(cuts of the soul),
when hammer blows
land on my heart
and crumbs of red bread
lead me to the scaffoldings of buildings

The father rises
every day
to raise houses (from master plans)
the daughter rises
hungry for sweet days
and the Holy Spirit rises
to scatter the bitter herbs
on the way to the Paradise
of bread.

Fear of transparent blue skies builds my father
blue rituals destroy me
in the fifth dimension
my father secrets himself with the Holy Spirit,
and I chew the glass in the windows of our house
and prepare the days
for wanderings that will crack me in two
to an ocean of belief
and a lake of suspicion.

Wave after wave
cut a channel between us
through which I hatch though the opacity of my heart
and go towards his heart
and he abandons his wooden beams
and finds my heart
My father teaches me building rituals
I teach him rituals of destruction.
-Nawal Naffaa'


To some degree it matters who's in office, but it matters more how much pressure they're under from the public.
-Noam Chomsky


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Last edited: 27 February 2012 13:22:15