Volume Two, Issue 1

Mati Shemoelof

Downstairs, From heavenly Aleppo

Aleppo, I, Matityaho Ibn Shifra, your old daughter, a grandson of your Arab-Jews, felt sadness as they deleted your city of poetry,
Aleppo, how did they forget to save your libraries?
Aleppo, was it not fireworks that lit the skies of the Arab spring? or were the night stars shining all night long,
Aleppo, tell me who is the devil that throws explosive barrels upon your residents, and thinks that in this way - they will write his name in love,
Aleppo, Will you listen to the Iraqi old weeper that lives inside of me? Here, at the gates of our European towns, there are thousands of your sons and daughters standing with lost home keys, waiting to enter.
Aleppo, rich poems will flourish in your botanic gardens; Free, we will walk among your middle eastern shifting sand-novels-dunes; freedom will be tattooed on our childrens hands, red words of prayer will spread in the wind,
Aleppo, torn poetry books fly in the wind; Your children's memory squashed beneath the concretes rubble,
Aleppo, The few who read your hearts beating poems fighting with those who don't know shit about the little girl that dances while she writes a love letter to her mom,
Aleppo, your daughters, are the new Jews, who are exiled between the libraries of the world, and inside their headphones you can hear the compassionate womb of the Oud,
Aleppo, we will not fight with weapons that lead to victory. Nope. We will put our hopes in the gentle candles wax and surrender to mountains of words where the sweet snow melts into rivers; where love springs out,
Aleppo, tell us again how we can raise neighborhoods of believers and atheists; among the alters who scattered our souls,
Aleppo, your stories will come back to my ears, like a child who sits on his grandmother's knees.


January, 2017

And I regret that I missed a way to his heart

I don’t know why he loved to eat above the sink
without a plate, dark bread, salty cheese,
he sits curl on the black sofa
inventing a funny name to each one, who comes on the main entrance door
and I’m sure he was a free spirit poet like me, but i haven’t a way to check it out
The only way I have is to write
that he wasn’t happy more than me
but I remember that he had read one of my early poems
and came back happy to our house and told me how in the "Old age" club where he visited
his new friends liked my new poems
and maybe with my inspiration, he started to write the big story of his life
how his wealthy father was thrown out of Mashhad by the local Muslims in Iran and how he immigrated to Palestine round the start of the 20 century
[fuck, why didn’t I keep this paper?]
and now I regret every single moment I ignore his point of view
I could have hugged him and understand that his story
and what is left for me? a big regret
what left out of him? an unfinished poem
and the days are getting less
and my memories show me their nakedness

And we were the Savage Poets

And we were the savage poets, and we founded poetry groups
And we published our journals and we met to work together to create
poetry shows
And in every interview or mention we were filled with self importance
And we didn’t know that one day we will get pregnant, we will ditch other, we will be scattered,
We will calculate how much it costs us to be savage poets
And we didn’t understand that one day we will divorce each other, we will be dispersed, we will be depressed, we will look for new job in a new fields, and we will immigrate from the poetry continent to the fiction continent and we won’t be entitled to get words-loans from the letters bank.

And what scared us most, was that we will be forgotten completely,
That we will come new generations who won’t know and recognize our self importance
And even though in a rare moment, An academic scholar
in Paris comes back to one of our lost journals that we edited
She is sitting down in the University library and opens the journal
Leafing and cleans the dust from the pages
Searching in the internet when died the poet who wrote this poem.

There Was Never a Home in Poetry

“There was never a state in Eden
East and west never were
We were not expelled, nor defeated”

The black eyebrows sway
The coffee cup with cardamom trembles
On the train at Hermannplatz
Ubahn, U7, one stop
Non-stopping rain
And naked love, approaching in the foreignness
To be revealed
We exiled
And we shall recite poetry
And clear a path out of Egypt
When the stars shine
For you.


[Translated by Na'aman Hirschfeld. 2015]

Breaking Passports

Passports also break I tell you,
Passports also become worn out over the years, made by strangers, exchanged across inhuman borders
Passports also lie, that they are always new, like a biometric seal of worn out, tired, rough and diminishing skin
Passports also become refugees, when the dream’s stars do not immigrate in time from the night’s darkness
Passports are also jailed when the wall turns into a wedding, and hope remains single
Passports also struggle to pull out of the earth, which pretends being a pillow, and its heart is tough, and cold, dry-land of frozen lava
Passports also continue going to work, and not read and write the way out of the prison of thought
Passports are also saddened, when we discover that you went missing between waves of broken glass
Passports also get lost, when confronted by a prayer that does not have you in its end
“Our love has no passport,” you answer me, and write a new poem in the heart of the world.


[Translated by Na'aman Hirschfeld. 2016]

On the other side of the Poetry

You say let's only meet in good times
But there isn’t any happiness without mourning, without language
Every time we dance, somebody is buried
Every time we bury someone, someone is born
Every time you hug me at night
Something in me is saved

Mati Shemoelof: "I am a poet, author and editor. My writing is diverse and includes six poetry books, plays, articles and fiction. My works have won significant recognition and prizes. Remnants of the Cursed Book, my latest short story book, was published by Kinneret Zmora publishers (2014).

"I am one of the leading voices of the Arab-Jews (Mizrahi Movement). I was a founder of the “Guerrilla Culture” movement in Israel. Now I am one of the founders of “Poetic-Hafla”, A multi-language Poetry-Art-Music parties in Berlin. These days I am writing my second Novel as part of the rising Israeli Jewish Diaspora in Berlin.

"All of the poems are part of my sixth poetry book, Hebrew outside of its sweet insides, Pardes Publishing House, 2017. Editor: Alon Bar."

Top of Page

Table of Contents

Visit our Facebook page          Visit us on Twitter

editors AT rigorous DASH mag DOT com
webmaster AT rigorous DASH mag DOT com