H.G. *








The hard surface of my face

will soften with the years.

The thick brows will thicken even more.

The invisible blue of my eyes, the secret mouth

of my secret love. Pay attention

to my whitening sideburns to my darkening profile,

my hairy chest an eternal wilderness. This is me

between what is visible to the eye and what is real

a character is embroidered and the cutting tension within it

is love-pained: life in its enormity

grey to tread in the enormous rules

of situation and color, fate and allegory,

a body like my body invisible to me today

is covering my soul.

These are my fragments

gathered on the canvas

to be created here anew.

translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut



Listen to me Deaf Love

and I will tell you what I

feel from beyond your scintillating silence

and what I knew to feel without you

in the roots of the heart that have already whitened

like my mother’s hair.

Listen to me Stubborn Obsession

and I will tell you who I

am, waking with you nightly

and what I would be without you

in the silent darkness of the light.

Love with light feet, you are

a life prisoner to me. Where are you

exactly when you sleep by my side?

What was near to the eye

like a remote desire that has lost its way

blossomed in your absence.

Go thee on your distant way, my desire,

and become a singing sea shell

that my love may hear through you

the throbbing of my heart.



translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut



White and clean as is my way

I take no part in the dark plots of lovers.

Everything above will come from flesh

or the way of sweat or sperm. The voice of a mute

sticks to me like tears. Hair sheds upon me.

Air shoots out at me.

I wrinkled and stain easily and always

remain clean of any blame.

For that is my job: life spills into me

and from stuff such as mine is made

the flag of surrender or devotion.

Those who crouch above me to sleep, to rest, to dream

or to heal, like those who come to me with the pleasure of love

and moan to the bone with the ease and release from desire,

always obscure from me—why do they conceal?

The skin of time shines within me and passes with thoughts

on the passing colors on the ceiling.

And when I am filled with worlds of life

in my infinite double-meter, I am gathered suddenly,

folded, and thrown to the turbulent laundry

that depletes me, erases all in its time.

There the little I knew is wrung from me

and I like an infant spread out to the new world,

white and clean as is my way

and with no











translated by: Karen Alkalay-Gut



The universe has vanished. Only the sun

still remains. In silence

it wakes the emptiness.

Thus Mr. Zilberman dreamt 1944.

An undestroyed past pieced with patches

of forty two years,

after a life-day in the Shoah film.

That night the dream returned—

Water came back to life in a cloud

and fire in ash again revived

Unfinished death

wrapped him like a wounded coat.

He woke midnightmare.

And with confident clarity, slowly put on

his Treblinka clothes, shaved with care,

made his bed, opened the gas, and

peaceful and sure went back to bed.



translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut




fur Hans Georg Heepe

1. The Astronaut

The front is the publishing house

the wings are the literature.

Sometimes I see H.G.

with his lovely snow hair

unconnected to any winter,

take off with a pile of manuscripts

that had collected on his desk,

to the skies of Reinbek

and the fuel is rare editor’s ink.

H.G. floats in the flow of narratives and characters

and though wearing white gloves

his fingers still leave prints.




2. The Beekeeper

The field is Reinbek,

The hive is Rowohlt.

H.G. works on the unrevealed secret

in the honeycomb of words, the hive frames.

Only the dreams in his house

retire early to bed

And it is he who gives glory to us,

the swarm of stinging bees

humming innumerable stories or verses.

And he alone is hidden

on the advertising labels

of the jars of honey.




translated from the Hebrew by Karen Alkalay-Gut



When I moved recently, I suddenly found

my forgotten Bible:

A Bar-Mitzvah present, the only thing

I took with me when I deserted the home of my youth

for forty years in the desert.

I leafed through the book: some pages stuck together

as in a classified secret. Cain, of course, is still murdering his brother.

For every murder, two other brothers sprout up in the field.

Goliath takes off his armor and goes out to lunch

From his eternal battle with the little Israelite.

the Philistine’s head is already adorned with rubber bullets

like kinky curls. The first astronaut,

Elijah, shoots up in a storm to heaven in a regular launch.

Locally made UFO’s sail in the skies of Ezekiel.

I continued skimming: the pages had already blackened with blood,

gory wars that continue on their own.

Only the sins remain like white stains, prophets

disappear from the book to prophesize far away. Kings

escaped to the Diaspora. Angels flew back to the caves of the firmament.

From his couch, God sadly ascended and turned out our light.


translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut



This is my beloved.

The one on her right

is her brother who fell in Lebanon.

The one on the left

is her lover

before I came

into the picture.

She holds onto them tight

as if she knew she will lose them both.

From the side, the mother looks at them.

Her face looks like a browned cake

that time baked on too high a flame.

translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut

Poetry Magazine

The Drunken Boat





Born in Jerusalem, Asher Reich has been appearing in print in Israel since he received the Anne Frank Poetry prize from the American Israel Cultural Foundation in 1961. His first book, In the Seventh Year of My Wandering, was published in 1962 and was followed, nine years later, by Night Shine, which won the Akum Award in 1969. State of Affairs appeared in 1975. The poems in this chapbook were taken from A View of the Land (Achshav, 1978), Women’s Rites (Achshav, 1980), A New Packet (Am Oved, 1983), many of which have been reprinted in Table of Contents: Selected Poems, 1963-1983 a volume of selected verse, which won the Berstein Prize from the Federation of Israeli Publishers. Works on Paper (Zmora Bitan, 1988) and Fiction Facts (Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1992). his novel, Memoirs of an Amnesiac, was published by Maariv in 1993. Winter Music is scheduled for this year. In addition the five prizes of AKUM, Reich has won the Prime Minister’s Award for poetry in 1989.

Raised in Yeshivot in Jerusalem, Reich’s first schooling was exclusively in religious studies, but his departure from the sequestered orthodox life at the age of eighteen brought him into western culture. Together with Haim Pesach, Asher Reich co-edited the popular monthly journal of the Hebrew Writers’ Association, Moznaim from 1980-1990.