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'Next year in Jerusalem': three poems

About the author
Adam Horovitz published his first full collection of poetry, Turning, with Headland in 2011. He has written a memoir, A Thousand Laurie Lees (History Press, 2014), and released Little Metropolis, a CD of poetry and music, in 2015. The Soil Never Sleeps was released by Palewell Press in 2018. He is also one of Ledbury Poetry Festival’s Versopolis poets.
Adam HorovitzAdam Horovitz

Married to the body (i)

Blood, like music,
        links back into itself,
rich with the thought-threads
        of generations.

In the blood,
haemoglobin sings like fire
            dancing on the rooftops.

DNA shivers and spirals
                    through veins,
mournful as clarinets.

Blood is a hurtling music
            married to the body.

There is no ghetto in blood.

“My own hope is that, next year, everyone will be able to celebrate freedom in Jerusalem, be they Jew, Christian, Muslim, agnostic, atheist, or other. We are all fellow humans. I stand firmly behind the closing line of the poem that opens the sequence: There is no ghetto in blood.” (Adam Horovitz)

My Invisible Aunt (iii)

An aunt I’ve never seen in the flesh
lurks in my grandmother’s kitchen
perhaps communing with the kosher sausages.
She is avoiding me.

I had always suspected her of not existing
despite glimpsing photographs
of her with my vanished Rabbi uncle,
whose existence I also had to take on trust.

The sight of her half-remembered face
repeated like a smudged photocopy
in inquisitive men who said they were her sons
eventually proved her to be real

But that was long ago and tonight I am
being moved like a chess piece
from room to room in an effort to preserve
the kosher space around my invisible aunt.

My grandmother smiles regretfully,
divides herself between the ghettos
my unseen aunt creates.
“She is very orthodox,” my grandmother explains.

I smile politely and wonder if,
thanks to this careful separation,
my invisible aunt envisages me
as half-Jew meat or watered milk

or just as unclean animal, as pig.
I am tempted to burst through the curtains
and confront her – but she’s far from being a vicar
and the noises off in this sorry farce

are those of bigotry run riot,
of prayer and weakness,
and of the foundations of her god’s house
shifting in the sand she built them on.

Also in openDemocracy, two poems from the “transmedial crusader” Michael Horovitz and a profile by Candida Clark; for Michael and Adam (and Frances) Horovitz, see “Writing in the Family”
(ix) Next Year in Jerusalem

Next year in Jerusalem
           politicians will put down roots
        they can't pull up,
            and wither into roadside shrubs.

Next year in Jerusalem
            it will be the Egyptians' turn
                to run away and hide in the desert
        whilst the Israelis avert their eyes
                    and count to twenty.

Next year in Jerusalem
            generals will keep finding
                sheep tangled in bushes
        whenever they attempt
                    to send in the troops.

Next year in Jerusalem
      an old man with a large beard
            will walk backwards through a hall of mirrors,
                chanting,
      dressed only in fig leaves.

Next year in Jerusalem
        there will be no guns,
no bombs, no blood-blind eye-for-an-eyes -

only doves
      pecking hard at olive branches,
                and rainbows lurking on street corners
                        touting hope.

Adam Horovitz’s three poems on openDemocracy are from his collection Next Year in Jerusalem (HooHah Press, 2004)


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