Hear, O Israel by Alex Simand

Hear, O Israel, my disembodied home,
my surrogate hovel, my dusty cavern:
I never slipped inside your insidious
borders, bobbed to your techno beat,
slithered into your dead lukewarm waters.
My father’s tassels snipped off
before he was born so I had nothing
to cling to on the long journey west,
my hands buzzed like gnats
at his sides but The Lord never
granted me fingers for grasping.
I forgot the commandments:
they sank into cool, clear lakes far away
from Israel, the cold does not bear
the arid adjectives of The Chosen.
The Lord changed his mind about me.
 
Hear, O Israel, my faded dream,
my slippery landscape, the burning bush
that scorched my brows, my lashes.
I am exposed before you to pointed fingers,
on my knees before the Wailing Wall,
my confessions, breathed, slipped
like smuggled diamonds into its cracks.
You see—I’ve whored, I’ve been whoring,
my atonement crumbles like an old mural,
the throats of San Francisco denizens
calling you fascist while I nod my head,
these words that squeeze my heart
when I walk by the wayside,
go by the wayside, too tentative
to extoll your hollowed name.
 
Hear, O Israel: I have nothing to teach
my unborn children except how to lose
ones way, how to lie down in the street
and let the mind grow gray. They will
never wear frontlets under their caps,
stoop and sway and subjugate themselves.
Their doorposts will read Bay Alarm.
They will not need rain:
we have the technology to overcome
Your droughts, reservoirs on Mount Sinai
so they will never have to carry water,
their lips never chapped, never uttering
Your Name, Your Love, Your Spite.
 
Hear, O Israel, you dark-skinned beauty,
your bare shoulders your round breasts
haunting the lust in my heart.
They say about your women,
they are fiery, the heat between their legs
angry, inviting, always looking to barter.
O Israel, grant me access to your brothel,
let me drink your salty waters,
let me taste the green-eyed goddess
who walks your shores, the tidal surge,
the emerald of their eyes piercing
like Moses’ booming voice, choking
the weak protest from my trachea.
Spend my youth in your sands,
guide me gently by the hand
by your golden goddess ankles
 
Hear, O Israel, my birthright reneged,
my disappointed peer going tsk tsk tsk
at the ink that surges through my veins.
You will bury me one Sabbath morning
and I will walk the dusty path to your gates
scrawled with hieroglyphs, with barcodes,
with torches and pitchforks and blood-
stained broadswords, the Maccabees hiding
in the mountain pass beyond your borders.
You will not begrudge me your entry
for the Lord’s anger was kindled but, I hope,
my father forgot to stoke the flame. 


Alex Simand writes nonfiction and poetry. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University Los Angeles and moonlights as an editor for both Lunch Ticket and Prague Revue. His work has appeared in such publications as Ash & Bones, Mud Season Revue, and Red Fez.