Thursday, November 3, 2016

Song at Colonus

Ari Ben Aaron's home (left side) at Kibbutz Achdut
To listen to an audio recital of the poem, click here

Song at Colonus

A Song of Ishmael

     you wolf in wolf’s clothing
 it is time for you to enter this poem

     I shall call you by your real name:

Adolf Pot Adolf Mao Adolf Stalin Adolf Amin Adolf Vorster Adolf Ceausescu Adolf Mobutu Adolf Nasser Adolf Makarios Adolf Pinochet Adolf


When you first came to me
   from the valleys of Al-Ahqaf
from Ka’aba
   the Visited House
riding your white steed out of the lofty vaults
   riding on the wings and winds of the Compassionate
you were not alone then
             as you are alone now

You rode with Al-Lat
               and Al-Uzzah
                         and with Manat

You told me of Aad’s compatriot
   and of what he told you
      in the valleys of Al-Ahqaf

Then tell me now
          O Mighty One
                    O Wise One
How do you tolerate senility?

Are you dying
          or simply defunct?

Do you recall the pyramid at Oswiecim
     and the psalms that we sang there?

Do you remember the daughters of Jerusalem
   and what was done and undone
      and how the Word became Flesh?

I am here
               I am with you now

(I am here
          it occurs to me
                   only to elucidate
     the catastrophe of consciousness)

      an old man in a dry month

and I
     Magister Ludi
 a child’s hand stretching out across the gulfs
  a child’s hand grappling
  between the abyss                          and the abyss
  between Horeb                          and Sinai

the eyes of Eden
 looking out at what remains
  after the fruit has rotted
   and from its putrid core
    still one more tiny serpent has crawled out

My name is Ishmael and I need shelter
My name is Samson and my eyes are ruined
My name is Esau and I am very hungry
My name is Argaman and I am wrestling[
My name is Yehudah Ha Nachri-
                         come to me

Lupus -
     the nights grow long and cold
        the ways of men are empty
           the shadows lengthen under these red rocks

Lupus -
     I have sent out a raven
        to search for the dove
     I have planted olive trees
        on hollow mountains
     I have drawn my own rainbow
        in the arc of the skies
come into the shadow of these red rocks

And tell me
          Lupus -
why is the fire still burning in my lungs?

But no
          I shall return from Medina
          I shall break the ass’ jawbone
          I shall find the strength
               to tear the ribbon from your heart
          I shall breach the growing years

I shall stand with the old women in the market-place
   counting the drops of venom in your spoken name

I shall question children about suffering
     and the ages of the winds

I shall tear back the veil of darkness
     with my own bare hands

I shall stand on the rooftop
     and watch the winter solstice

I shall beckon as you walk below me
I shall paint the image
   and the likeness

      of your face
         upon the smooth white face
            of a new-hatched egg

I shall beg a coin to pay the ferryman
     and sail the currents of the underworld alone

And I shall beg forgiveness
   returning from Medina
   washing the purple juices from my hands:

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