for Joseph Druch (1921-90)

“Israel is a period in Jewish history.” A.B.Yehoshoua, LATE DIVORCE


Where water was not to be had

naturally Herod had aqueducts built

as stones exposed to rain erode


was thought to date back to

but in fact dates back to

the history book says


dusk collects the changing hours

in this tourist art gallery café

ruins raised for new use


where one builds another suffers

the owner says

as stones exposed to wind give in


David’s Star flies

high lit above the amphitheater

as war jets tear at air.



The cut is in

and all that glitters after is glean for storks

en route from Asia to Africa


they say

3,000 years ago

through Wadis Arah and Meleeq

Egyptian and Assyrian troops worked their way

to and from the sea

that hungry men without provisions ate here

collecting carob hyssop berries fennel even capers

brewed and cooked with wild meat


at the margin of the field bougainvillea bursts magenta

and oleander snakes along the ditch

where sunlight blasts eucalypts to shrapnel and shade


atop fence posts

the song of meadowlarks gets torn off

by sirens from the factory town

and war jets from the base.



Fenced in by Lebanon

petal fall of almonds

encircle the trunks


sheltered from Syria

flocks of white cattle egrets

jazz the herd


figs trees green out

among roots and rocks

of the Banyas the Hatsbani and the Dan


where rivers meet

what makes all else possible

flows blood in water.



Where dust paths cross

with blood red hands a coral tree

offers flowers to the world at large


people passing through the plaza don’t seem to notice

the lunch hour newsprint litter impaled on the palm

or the sundial shaped by those fronds


in groups & pairs of solitude

they step across the clock’s spokes

its shadows already fading as noon goes down.



Sirens slash

the names are named

the songs are sung

the stones set down

with weeping and flowers in a broken vase

sirens slash

and troops load

back onto transports

taking them away.



After sundown

over Mounts Meron and Canaan

a full moon floats

high above the blue graves of all the holy


I can see them from afar

but not go down


under the palms

dwarf blue doorways lead me

through courtyards

to the synagogues


their humming I can hear

but not go in


beneath balconies

behind wooden doors

beside veiled windows

evening escorts me past the centers of their singing


I listen

outside the very center of their prayer.



Blades clash

until grips slip

if and when whatever war is about to be

is about to undo all.


First one man’s hand

flies off at the wrist

then the other’s

until nothing is left

but the reddened earth.



No sleep last night, too sun burnt to use sheet. Up early & out to do grottos. A new hat to beat heat. Just been told to wait inside this funky café. Helicopters & gunfire—hope they’re just practicing. Tanks & bulldozers & Lebanese people swarming checkpoint—fighting must be right over border. Guidebook says Beirut to Alexandria railway once ran right below these chalky cliffs. Ice plant blossoms blaze like crazy. Great food sure shoots my diet to hell. I’ll mail this back at hotel in Nahariyah.



amid date tree debris and litter of eucalypts

with trumped-up Mediterranean memories I sit

in ceremonial preference

for instant nostalgia

my face in the cracked pane glass a souvenir


along the base of Mount Carmel

a container ship sails low into Haifa Port

and an antique train skirts the coastline

past the stones at Akko

beyond the sunlit cliffs of Rosh Hanikra

below the clouds carrying the sea inland

to Jordan or Syria


this song is a pair of footprints

set down in sand already shifting, a fish

about to be caught, an empty freighter

riding high out to sea


the owner rolls out the afternoon awning then

within seconds

the click of high heels

the head of hennaed hair

the rings bracelets necklace

moving between me and the sea

she appears between entries in the book

one long look between our eyes

first two then the others

then the foreign foreign accent

the whole bit


the ritual café entry in another man’s land

the once beloved

soon I will be leaving you


at the esplanade’s end

on black basalt and limestone gray

three of Christ’s wives down from Stella Maris

to lift their hems and bare white calves

to the warm October waters of Haifa Bay


at Sunday School I wandered

across the Holy Land taped up

alongside the poster of Jesus

in long hair and striped robe

[sung to the tune of OH TANNENBAUM]

 “First the line of Coast we make,

Meron next, a marshy lake,

Then the Sea of Galilee

Exactly east of Carmel Sea.

The Jordan River runs through both

To the Dead Sea on the South,

And the Great Sea westward lies

Stretching far as sunset skies.”

Mount Carmel sports radars and weaponry

when all that’s not named or numbered is suspect

a broken window the reflection I traffic in

images to sweep me away


a guest apart

watching my manners

the ghost I dance to a peninsular end

invents a new solitude then pauses

to consider how far out is


never at ease

watching their manners

listening for the ripple of last words

flicked off at rushing water

I throw off dead letters

taking leave


the ones beloved

soon I will be leaving you


as if none of us will ever know a natural death.