Tel Aviv Diary March 3-7, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - March 3, 2008

Every one who was everyone is buried in Kiryat Shaul cemetery. I'm sure I must have said this before. The previous generation is in Trumpeldor cemetery. My contemporaries are mostly in Yarkon cemetery (if they don't donate their bodies to science), but Kiryat Shaul is always the place we wind up when our friends' parents pass away.

This afternoon my friend turned to me in the middle of the prayers and said ˇou see that area over there? It's for bereaved parents. I have a plot there." I looked out and saw Natan Yonatan's name rise above all the over graves. His stone is higher, perhaps because he spoke for all the parents whose sons were killed in the war. Here's just one example:

ANOTHER SONG ON ABSALOM

Cunning as a woman, lovely as a snake, shy as an idol
Always with a gang of friends, with horses, with gold,
And now, tell, where is the guile of his women,
The beauty of his snake, his shy idol
His dreams of kingdoms, where are they?
A tree in the forest, that
Is what remains of all Absalom
And the cry of his father, the old lover, the man of wars
Even his charioteer turns aside to weep,
Thus to break a fatherís back,
To make a joke of death, of everything!
Absalom my son my son Absalom
You couldnít wait,
Spoiled childóuntil we grew old,
When the crown brought us down in sorrow.
And what of your curls, your curls,
Didnít you know the danger hiding in such curls?
And why through the woods of all ways
Did you forget what happened to Jonathan?
Donít you know the terebinths?
Your father loved in you all that he was not,
See how the man shudders all over,
why do you think I didnít make you kingó
Out of concern for the people? Mistrust of your age?
If only we could have spoke of it in quiet
You would understand that Iím no longer the same David,
Your motherís grief, only an aging king
Who goes to his death without rejoicing
And yet secrets in his heart a last intrigue
To save at least one of his boys
From the crown, from the wars.
I wanted, my little fool, only you, Absalom.

March 4, 2008

The cemetery, that large empty space of land of bereaved parents, won't leave my mind. Dan Pagis's poem about the new cemetery that is šll future" kept getting repeating over and over in my dreams.

On the news today it sounds like we're getting used to being bombed in Ashkelon now. We got used to Sderot, and now we're getting accustomed to a city. Traumatized, angry, but helpless.

March 5, 2008

When is the next Panic Emsemble performance? March 26 - Tmuna, you can see us all here if you scroll down and press play on the video - there's a bit of a commercial and then an interview in Hebrew, but the songs are in english, except for what I'm doing in Yiddish."

When is My next performance? WHERE have you been? I'm considering doing an experimental reading on May 5 at 4 at the university: new multimedia material. Poetry and Photography. At the university. But I am still working on the experiment. Let me know if you want to be part of this. You can also find me at the end of April at the Nissan Festival in Maghrar. And I'm open for readings in the US in October-November.

March 5, 2008

a touch of insomnia - my two computers at the shops - my past days filled with fuberals - no wonder.

The shiva last night, with its guard downstairs and the doorman upstairs, seems a bit more than i am accunstomed to. Business leaders can't simply mourn - they have to be watched.

March 6, 2008

Panic Enemble is participating in Folkele a little parodic title for an indie marathon. It looks great but I'm going up north and won't be back in time.

There was a complaint about my poem "Those Jewish Women"- someone saw it on London Kirshenbaum and thought it was antisemitic. Everyone had a good chuckle over it and then i thought - maybe it is. I mean the whole irony of the song comes out in Yiddish, and on the tv program I was away so they got Dirk to take my place. With a German accent the irony may have turned ugly.I mean with a text like "They always do it, those Jewish women. Promise you everything and cut off your head," there is a possibility of misinterpretation...

I said to myself - no news tonight - i can't bear it. i'm staying home and watching old stupid movies. but when the second movie was over (don't ask) I flipped the channel to the local stations for a nightcap and there was the police chief of Jerusalem. No way to misunderstand that - a terrorist attack. It took place an hour ago - old news already - 8 people killed - schoolboys - as of this moment. From experience I expect more.

March 7, 2008

Two words keep coming into my mind all day. "Gunman" was the first - i saw it first in the London 'Times' today in a report about the massacre in Jerusalem, but the word kept cropping up in the foreign news all day. Such a beautifully neutral word for a man who breaks into a religious school and murders unarmed boys while they are praying.

The other word was Allah. As Sasson Somekh always reminds me, this is the word that was used by the Jews for God in Baghdad when he was growing up. I like the idea of using that word, or using the names for God interchangably, especially since He himself negates the possibility of our naming him. "Ō am that I am" He says. So who's got a monolopy on the name? And if it's the same God, who has got a right to kill anyone while they pray, no matter which religion? And who has the right to celebrate over praying victims?

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