Lines (& some pics) composed in our home in the vale in the hills near Laverty’s Gap, Mullumbimby/Wilsons Creek, in 2008, some seven years after we moved here from Israel-occupied Palestine

This is a post I was preparing to publish before I was hospitalized the week before last.


how it goes


beside the pain
instead of the painkillers
a place to be, a place to do
a melody, a rhythm, a story,
a poem.

& where can it go?
i’m sure i don’t know,
but it’s not about going, or knowing.

can it be nothing
when it’s already a something?

or must we get personal?
or perhaps political?
prophetic? emphatic?
allusive, intellectual?

obviously someone with nothing to say
saying something to say something or nothing
or someone with something to hide,
and maybe something to show.


the world’s going troppo
(& in italian tróppo means too much)
tróppo tróppo, much too troppo

& the python
(here in bunjalung country)
isn’t frightened

troppo tragic & troppo magic
comedy, tragedy,
personal, ethnic, racial,
genophilic, xenophobic
tróppo tropical, tróppo topical
in all countries in all continents
majorities & minorities
indigenous & colonizer & refugee & immigrant
topdog & underdog, protester & sycophant
creatures, beseechers, teachers, preachers
of one true god or no true god

non tróppo adágio, not too slowly

& the python
isn’t frightened

is it about safety?
must loving one’s inherited culture
mean loving more those who bore it and bear it and share it
than others who bore and bear, inherit and share, a different culture?

is it in the DNA? a group centricity, a primal tribal fidelity,
to motherland or fatherland, to Birthia, the place that bore you,
baladi in arabic & moledet in hebrew
Falastin, Yisra’el, el ard, ha’aretz, The Land
before Earthia, the planet

where the python
isn’t frightened

so say it is
about safety, in the DNA –
we can still learn to live with the python
see the beauty in the patterns,
his, her, our own cultures, others’ cultures,
songs and languages, paintings, dances,
& seek more cooling
in the global warming
& more warming
in the global cooling


the python

the other evening still at twilight i took out the rubbish after dinner & on my way to the compost bin i saw across my path near the rubbish bins a long something that i didn’t remember being there before, it seemed too straight for a fallen branch, too wavy to be a stick. i decided not to venture passing it or stepping over it in the dark but i still wanted to throw the rubbish bag into the rubbish bin and the contents of the compost bag into the compost bin, so i went back and brought my strong rechargeable torch & saw it was a young, possibly very young python, no more than two meters long or two inches in diameter, with a beautiful pattern of diamonding lines and dots, sort of yellow-green and brown-black in the torchlight, which seemed to disconcert him a little but didn’t bother him too much, he just kept flicking his tongue but didn’t seem at all inclined to move, except at one point when while lifting the lid off the rubbish tin i swung the torch around and he made a quick turning movement of his head while raising it perhaps a foot or so off the ground and then lowered it into a small coil and remained motionless while i completed my two missions and closed the bins and keeping what i felt to be a safe distance from him and my torchlight still upon him, walked around him, saw our cat Chiquita sitting not far away, and called her to come home with me, more afraid that she might attack the snake than the other way around, because now she’s fully grown, and this is a very young python, but when she was maybe two and a half months old, a much bigger python caught her and her in his coils. i was having a shower at the time and heard the screams and didn’t know what they were and there was no one else at home. i ran straight out of the shower, out the front door, and there by the wall in the front garden was this big python rolled around little chiquita at least twice, and she was still screaming, i yelled at the python too but that didn’t help and i was afraid to grab him by the head so i picked up a stone and gave him a knock on the head, not too hard, but evidently enough to surprise him into letting go his grip and sliding away, while chiquita darted away into the bush and didn’t come back for several hours.


cottoncauliflower cumulus clouds in agate sky over green tree-topped hillside
with two, no, now three, no, now no
parachuted hangliders dancing in and out of the oval
framed by a branch of the jacaranda just outside & the top line of the treetops,

& in some sense we’re all of us
parachuted hangliders dancing in and out
here a moment, there a moment,
colored this way, then colored that way
coloring here a little there a little
some more, some less,
then gone


– Ah Soul, Arsehole, Asshole!

– Ah soul, arsehole, asshole!
– Of course, my horse.
Why grudge, my judge?
Why leave, my thieves?
No soul is not an arsehole, asshole.

Where caper my rapers? Born to rape
or be raped we have learned to choose love,
we choose to learn love. Now they caper in art alone,
in poetry, where none can be hurt. I
become a bit less of an arsehole, asshole.

There will be room and work for all who served
the dynasties of successive hierarchs, secret or overt,
as guardians of secrets, skilful liars, manipulators,
prosecutors and repressors, room for all the masters
and victims of shame and guilt, all the arseholes, assholes.


There was a red
yes, wheel,
yes, barrow, I re-
member, but
also a stain, a grow-
ing one, yes, and
yes, a flag,
and, yes a lot
of pain, a lot
of noise:

so much, yes
so much depended, yes
so much depends


in medias res, poetry

where soul sings to soul
in the midst of the things
that are
& the things
that aren’t

always in the midst of things
even while life’s ending
even while the globe warms


Wind & wandering

without a wind no sail will move
here in mid-ocean
yet a sail moves

without a destination no direction will be taken
no rudder will be turned
here in mid-ocean
yet a direction is taken
a rudder is turned

toward the setting sun


i think sometimes that
until we’re encompassed by compassion
we’ll stay impassioned by passion (fear too is a passion)
unconscious or conscious
or interned by self-concern, instructed, restricted, desentisized
by what at each moment we believe is our self-interest

i think sometimes that
we’re all so traumatized & so in denial
almost like we’re saying whatever happened or is happening
whatever we did or are doing or saw done or now see being done
to ourselves or to someone or to some many
near or far
it doesn’t matter
i’m ok, we’re ok, i’ll be ok, we’ll be ok
whatever we feel victims of or complicity in,
i’m ok, we’re ok, i’ll be ok, we’ll be ok

it’s surely a mechanism that helps us survive,
but as all that we are,
which includes our denial
& its inevitable consequences
in closing the gates of compassion




Between Islamism and Islam
gapes the chasm of chaos

Between Zionism and Zion
the abyss of hypocrisy

The isms
breed schisms
powering jism after jism
rocket after rocket &
missile after missile
in the name of
in the game of
in the shame of
the Merciful,
el-Rakheem, ha-Rakhman.
HaRaM, I say, HaRaM.


so much word smatter
but still words matter


rain for days and nights
psoriasis rioting, getting on top of it with tar, maybe,
fears of it spreading over my entire body,
as did my father’s pemphigus,
hacking cough at night, nothing comes out
danny has a brain tumor, sid has cancer in the rectum,
leah all over, jenny an aneurysm,
the grandchildren are growing beautifully
monk’s caps have little pools of water
at night the leaves glisten a sheer beauty
we are closed in, the bridge across the creek is flooding over
even in heavy rain some birds sing
strong gusts of wind


some lifelines, with images from my hard disk

lifelines horiz

lifelines vert

in captions under photographslifelines 1 2
lifelines 3 4

lifelines 5 6one

some lifelines, with images from my hard disk

the german luftwaffe plane bombing a city during world war ii,
like those that bombed warsaw the day we fled,
an illustration from the time of poland’s collapse,
a tourist panorama of shanghai’s riverfront bund
as seen from then not yet pudong, i saw it from not so far across,
from mid-whangpoo, and the only actual photographs i have of me there,
already after the war had ended, one with my form 2 classmates
at the shanghai jewish school and our teacher mr. radet,
the year my father spent dying in hospital,
one of me posed in betar uniform for a photographer
who gave me two photos, both retouched, & one of them tinted
and passport photos of me and my cousin karol, charles,
me ten and he nine, in 1946, probably taken for our documents
for our voyages to a new home in australia.


on the lilac blossoming gentle jacaranda tree

lilac jacaranda 1

on the lilac blossoming gentle jacaranda tree
emanuel and amalia are climbing
& emanuel’s talking & amalia’s singing
on the lilac blossoming gentle jacaranda tree

around the lilac blossoming gentle jacaranda tree
amalia and emanuel are playing & running & walking
& emanuel’s singing & amalia’s talking
around the lilac blossoming gentle jacaranda tree

back from the lilac blossoming gentle jacaranda tree
emanuel & amalia ask grandma a question
& grandma gives them an answer and then they’re back again
around the lilac blossoming gentle jacaranda tree

and then on the lilac blossoming gentle jacaranda tree
emanuel and amalia sit where they’ve climbed to,
imagining, talking, talking, imagining
on the lilac blossoming gentle jacaranda tree

lilacjaca emanamalia


yes, but,
as nitza said only yesterday
maybe there have always been in the world
those who are willing to use force & violence for power & control
& those who aren’t, and won’t,
yes, and will always choose flight before fight,
maybe knowing, somehow, some mysterious, inexplicable way
that they don’t want to cross to the dark side
to become the same as those one could so easily
indignantly and always justifiably wish to smite

to go without physical resistance
into the Umschlagplatz, then to the train,
into the camp, then into the “shower chamber”
as i believe my maternal grandmother did,
and most probably also my father’s parents did
when it was already to late to flee

she said she knows now
she would not have been one of the uprisers
in the warsaw ghetto,
nor in the partisans, i added, & i feel the same today
but i can’t say that when i was younger i wouldn’t have been,
i know that for a time in my teens they were my heroes
& that having hated hitler as a child i had also adored stalin
& i also bought the zionist myth
& the communist myth

but i wanted to say
that i know it is so
also in palestine
where “israel” still rules

where some rule & some command & some execute,
some press, some swing, some drop, some throw
triggers, buttons, batons, rockets, stones, missiles, mortars, shells, bombs,
believing in the justice of their cause or in it for the power & the profit,
perhaps consciously &/or perhaps unconsciously &/or perhaps cynically,
but in any case somewhere lacking the capacity for empathy
of those who do even not pick up a stone & throw it at the oppressor’s soldiers

through two thousand years of exile
a jewish way of being evolved that was not violent,
not built on the exertion of physical force

or if somewhere that too is a myth
if jewish financiers have in some part of these two millennia
played roles on that dark side,

the myth at least has a following.

for the jew, not indigenous anywhere except perhaps two millennia ago in what is now called both palestine and israel, flight has of course been a more rational response than fight. emotionally too, you can feel good about yourself because you’re not doing harm to anyone, and you’re righteous, and this on top of being able to feel sorry for yourself as a victim of the heartless and iniquitous persecutors. you can yearn for a return to the ‘homeland’ that was never your homeland and would never be your homeland & in that melancholic languishing there was a terrible & strong romantic happiness. & then to be struck with the transformation, to now ‘have’ this ‘homeland’ but only by having to constantly keep fighting for it & in fact having to exercise brutal occupation powers over its more recently indigenous people in order to make this dream come true even though its whole purpose was to remain a dream for you, this is too mind-boggling if you don’t, and you know you don’t, want to go over to the dark side, because you have some inkling of what you yourself would be capable not only of doing but even more terrible of enjoying if you had that power without the constraints that now keep you from making that choice in the first place, too scary for words…


redeemed, is it, freed? liberated? from
the knowledge of good and evil, what-
ever, we no longer know good and evil,
are no longer punished for those two bites
of that forbidden fruit,
yet this is not Paradise
which, never lost, never regained,
lives for ever in that mythic realm
in our imagination, while in our lives
what we can know, at best, is what we want


וכבן עמי עם ישראל אני אומר סליחה
לכל בת ולכל בן של העם הפלסטיני באשר היא או הוא

על כל מה שעשו בני או בנות עמי לָךְ, לְךָ, לכם, לכן

איני מבקש שתסלחי, שתסלח, שתסלחו
איני מחפש את סליחתכם
איני מבקש שתחייכי, שתחייך, שתחייכו

אך הייתי חייב לומר את זה
כדי ללכת הלאה

& as a son of my people the Jewish people I say sorry
to every daughter and every son of the Palestinian people wherever they be
for everything done by sons or daughters of my people to each & all of you

I’m not asking you to forgive
I’m not seeking your forgiveness
I’m not asking you to smile

I just had to say this
to be able to go forward


An update to my last, mistaken, update

Today, on Facebook, I created a “Secret Group” titled “Richard Flantz’s life’s ending”, & invited 81 friends, so far, to join it.  I will feel more comfortable posting my updates etc to this group of more intimate friends than to the public at large.
I know that some followers of my blog who don’t use Facebook would want to follow the posts and comments published in this group. The best I can do at present for these followers is to repost here the content of my posts there (but none of the comments & interchanges), while not sharing these reposts on my public Facebook timeline. Fyi. If any of you want more than this please tell  me in a comment or by email…

Here is my first post to this group, posted there earlier today:

Yesterday I posted a happy meme proudly announcing that I’d stopped taking the opiates & would go on with what vaping the good herb could bring me.


I felt like a happy hippy hero again, it’s a feeling I’ve often liked.
But that was braggadocio. That high lasted only a few hours, & further vapes later in the day kept me stoned but brought little relief.
By night-time it was pretty bad, & this morning I just had to give in & take a dose of Ordine, & a few hours later another one as well as a slow-release Targin… & now it’s just bearable again.

& I want to share the following excerpts from recent correspondence:

My (only) cousin Charlie, who’s a year younger than me, & a doctor, wrote in a reply to an email from me, “It’s clearly a difficult balancing act between pain and constipation.” To which I replied today: “Yes, definitely a difficult balancing act!
Thinking about it, I find it surprising how little one hears about this phenomenon, & even more surprising that with all the advances in medical research, there as yet exists no effective relief of unbearable pain that doesn’t bring with it the sometimes at least equally unbearable pain of constipation. Then again, all this starkly (& funnily) images the limitations of being human…”

& my dear friend David Rothfield wrote in a comment to my blogpost Update / Opiated, 2017/12/24–26: “Whatever you decide about the chemo, we know it will be for the best. Yes, quality is preferable to quantity, but right now it doesn’t sound like quality. After that bout of pain you describe, there was no doubt relief, but at least after child birth, there is the delight of seeing the new life that you have brought forth.”

I thanked him for these & his other warm & wise words, & on these points I wrote:
“& you’re right on both points: what I’ve been going thru since these pains began is certainly not quality — & after the more excruciating moments there is never the delight of new life, only the relative relief of a less excruciating pain. & since these pains aren’t cancer related, & the scan shows the cancer isn’t growing quickly, the chemo question is irrelevant, & trying it would be only an additional anxiety-ridden hassle. I’ll see if the doctors can find some way to treat the spinal condition, & if they can’t then I’ll look for a way to end it all as painlessly as possible. & I’ll keep updating for as long as I can.”
& to my blogpost Update-2017-12-28-stoned-on-herb-no-longer-opiated, my dear young friend Jayson Berger wrote: “Brave man, brave choice, my heart is with you. Fight fight against the dying of the light!

I replied:
“ thanks, jayson!
(but I really don’t feel i’m fighting against
& i’m certainly not raging against
whatever will come.)

Jayson: I was playing on Dylan Thomas’s poem but was careful not to use the word rage which I have a difficult time associating with you but rather was referring to the numbing effects of Morpheus on creative light.

Me: I know you were riffing on the brilliant [but (so I’ve long thought) conceptually flawed] Thomas villanelle.
But it’s important for me to be clear that for me this isn’t a fight, & that I’m not fighting anything.
& I’m not sure the morphine is numbing what creative light I still have — & if it is, so it goes..
& the light itself, it was there before me, & will go on after I’m gone.

Update 2017/12/28, Stoned on Herb, No Longer Opiated

Two days ago, I posted the following comment on the Facebook thread of my previous (opiated) update:

No longer opiated! Last night, writhing on the toilet-bowl from the pain of the constipation caused by the opiates that are meant to prevent the pain caused by my spinal condition, I realized that this is ridiculous!
So I decided to stop the opiations, & didn’t take the Targin last night or this morning. A meditation that helps me: when in pain, to remember the so many parts of me that are not in pain & to focus my feeling there; & when in motion to remember F.M. Alexander’s tai-chi-like “head held delicately forward & upward”, etc etc… Will write a blog post on this…

Later in the day I wrote the lines I’ve memed today:

update vaping meme
Another update, from today, is in the works…


Update / Opiated, 2017/12/24–26

in wheelie

Last Friday evening, after discharge from hospital that morning; Nitza snapped me sitting on the chair of the wheelie-walker my community nurse brought me from Byron Hospital, on the gravel drive leading from our home to J&O&E&A’s, for a family get-together & dinner (which was truly wonderful, I felt so blessed).

Opiated now, a second whole week,
& now that my oncologist (thankfully!) has found
the opiates & the doses that are working for me
(5mg of slow-release Targin am & pm,
& 2ml of 5ml/1ml Ordine for immediate relief when I need it,
on top of 2 tabs of Paracetamol Osteo three times daily),
& which (although they also make me more woozy
than high, & severely constipate me) help me now to make tolerable
the incessant strong pains in my right flank,
enough for me to still want to get up thru the pains
(sharpest while rising from lying down to sitting),
& to take my morning meds, to pull off thick socks & pyjamas
& put on shirt & pants,
& open my doors to the day.

& I’m feeling it’s the opiates
that will determine much
of the colors of my remaining days & nights.
& I opine that I’ve entered what may be my life’s final phase:
the opiated phase.

&, opiated, so much now also starts taking on rich new colors for me:
my own will to still be here & in consciousness,
my awareness of the constant & sustaining love & caring
of my dear life-partner Nitza, & of the always-there-for-me love & caring
of my sons, daughters-in-law, children & grandchildren,
as I give in to my new dependencies:
I never wanted to be a burden on anyone,
but I’m happy they want to be there for me,
& am learning to accept the truth that Nitza expressed yesterday:
‘You’re more a hero when you give up on being a hero.”
In hospital this week I was happy to learn from a whole-body bone scan
that these pains, in & around the right side of my waist,
sharp & incessant for several weeks now,
(which my GP thought might be from some metastasis
of the cancer discovered some 8 months ago in my upper right lung)
are not cancer-related: they’re from a fracture & degenerations & stenosis
in the lower spine & vertebrae.

The scan shows the cancer is spreading but not widely,
& not quickly metastatising, & isn’t the cause of these pains.
& it feels good to know this, like maybe more time left to live…
But, my GP does attribute to it my almost total loss of appetite,
my inability to keep most foods down, the bad taste in my mouth,
my significant weight loss (about 10 kg down from my 68 in May).

But it’s probably the opiates that are causing the loss of balance,
which makes me need to use a wheelie-walker to get around
where there aren’t walls or other props to lean on,
& that are causing the shakes, mainly in my left arm, & in my fingers,
which respond so erratically when I type (you wouldn’t believe
how many corrections in each line you read here!)
(but will & patience mostly get it right in the end.)

& with all this going on, I can’t move around much,
so my overall shortness of breath
from my extensive emphysema & COPD
(I have about 20% of my lung function left)
is now hardly ever a problem. Seated is my most frequent
& most comfortable position. Opiated & seated.
Happier still after a few vapes of mild bush herb
from my trusty Volcano (seems opiates don’t give you much of a high
when they’re working on pains), & I like & need that buzz
(& know that without it I couldn’t or wouldn’t have written any of this),
& with good music streaming into my ears.

Had another happy moment last week & wrote home from the hospital:
“Happy morning! First shits after about a week!
Last evening a nurse gave me a magic formula the nurses here use,
& at 5am I had to go! & it came out in a painless gush.
[a wonderful surprise, the happiest part of this particular episode
(I add now), because the last twice this fortnight
the breakthroughs had been so so painful!]
& again a couple of hours later
– & now again, had to stop writing this to get to the loo in time…
& I feel I’ll maybe need to go a few more times today. Anyway, it’s great relief.
I went to thank the nurse but her shift was over.
but another nurse gave me the formula, I copy it here so we have it on record:
20 ml Lactulose / 10 ml Agarol / 3-10 drops Ducolax.”
(But since that day, nada. At home now, & no formula till tomorrow
when the pharmacy opens after Boxing Day. But I had one good fart
& immediately shared the good news with Nitza. She laughed, & said
she remembered Yoram Kaniuk in one of his last writes celebrating a good fart,
& I happily remembered Yoram, & the time 50 years ago in Ramat Gan
when I translated his novel Rockinghorse for Harper & Row,
& in the next flash remembered learning, some 20 years earlier in Melbourne,
from the narrator of one of Robert Graves’ Claudiuses,
the importance of not repressing a fart.) 

Eight months ago, after the cancer diagnosis
& the oncologist’s prognosis
of 6–12 more months of life if I don’t do chemotherapy
& maybe 2 years if I do, I did a few hours of good meditation
(with guidelines from a dear friend),
& I chose to live what remains of my life
without the anxieties & recurring appointments,
scans, constant engagements with my condition,
& without the fears of possible toxic side-effects
a course of chemo would probably entail.
I chose, as my GP summed it up nicely,
“quality of life over quantity of life.” It was she, too,
who described the relatively symptom-free period I experienced
until the side pains started as a “plateau”.
& now it seems I’ve started rolling downhill.
Or maybe I’ve just hit another plateau, who can know? An opiated plateau.

My oncologist now recommends I start some “mild” chemotherapy,
which he says I can always pull out of
without irreversible toxic side-effects
& which I can continue for as long as it works for me, if it works for me,
& if it doesn’t I can then maybe try a course of immunotherapy,
which may be risky because it might trigger one of my 2 auto-immune disorders
(psoriasis, which hospitalized me three years ago
when it flared up all over my body,
but has since been well-controlled through a high weekly dose
of the immune-depressant methotextrate) & might also enhance the other (polymyalgia rheumatica, when all your muscles ache,
especially when you use them, but that one’s been actively painful
for  some months now). & it mightn’t trigger them,
he says we can’t know unless we try, & it mighn’t come to that,
the mild chemo might work. He says he has helped many people with his methods.
I want to trust him. I look into his eyes as he speaks, & see sincerity,
real caring, & confidence, the things I know I want to see & need to see.
I can never know for sure, he may be a very good actor. Yet I feel to trust him,
& to give it a shot. I have an appointment with him a few days from now,
& will give him my decision then. Opiated, like now.

I’m writing this opiated update
for those few friends who have recently asked me how I’m doing;
& for other friends who might want to know;
& mostly for myself, to record my thoughts & feelings
at this maybe final juncture of my life;
& for maybe others whom maybe I don’t know
& who maybe don’t know me, but who may find some interest or value
in the expressed thoughts & feelings
of someone in a situation like mine now & here.
& I’m hoping I’ll be able to follow it up with yet more
such updates further along the line…
& I’m writing it in lines & strophes of verse,
because that’s how it comes best to me.
Is it poetry? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think it matters.

& yesterday evening I had the sharpest pain yet
in this phase, getting up from an afternoon nap
after lying on my bed facing the doors open outwards
instead of my usual position facing indoors
& the pain was like an anguished 9 out of 10
& lasted like an hour. But it too subsided,
after a dose of Ordine. & later, when I told Nitza,
she said “When you get such pain,
think of the pain women go through giving birth”.
& that’s another good thing to remember.

with wheelie

As I started wheelie-walking up the drive, Nitza called me to turn around, & snapped me again.

“I’m emotionally autistic…” (lines I just found from April 2012) [Collating Smatterings of Memoirings (6)]

Suddenly, the other day, I found this file. I’d already given up on finding more smatterings of memoirings on my hard disk (it turns out I haven’t done all that much memoiring), and suddenly this showed up. I’ve read it a couple of times now, and I think it adds some info & does a little more than that. It’s in lines (of “verse”), a form I often like to write in. Is it poetry? Maybe, it depends on how you define “poetry”. Is it good poetry? Maybe, & maybe some of it is & some of it isn’t. I don’t know if it matters. It’s another picture of me (as this brief intro is too). Was I planning to continue the story from where it breaks off? Possibly, I don’t remember. Will I take that point as the starting point for a sequel? Possibly… Oh, & I’ve also added two links to two previous memoirings…


I’m emotionally autistic, & like a hermit, she tells me,
& it’s probably, given my history, post-traumatic,
how I don’t keep up contact with friends past or present,
might not initiate contact with my sons if she didn’t
don’t wake up one morning thinking
maybe I’ll do this or that with a grandchild
(she no longer mentions how not open I am with her
or not interested enough in her… she’s no longer frustrated
about that as she long was…& I can see it & feel it, & know it’s true,
(though I think it’s also arche- and stereo-
typically heterosexual-masculine)
& am grateful for this light she has given me.
Though i’m glad when they come or when we’re where they are,
& gladly talk with them & do things with & for them when they want to,
i only rarely spontaneously imagine something to initiate with them,
& even more rarely will myself to.

120414 (cont.)
& only yesterday I was thinking displacement,
my so-many displacements since I was three,
not easily forming attachments or making friends
& when I did & then left them because we moved again
or because I’d broken with them,
hardly ever keeping up contact or even remembering them,
an early strategy for living with separation
ever since we left my loving grandmother in Warsaw
as the German bombs were falling.

yes, she said, & not having much contact with my parents before that,
both too busy with each other & their business & their socializing
(& I can’t even remember the carer I know I had all those first years of my life.

& yes the need was there, & I think I found in the youth movement a lifebuoy,
& again in later years, in the hippie times,
found a way to gather with some people around me,
& again in the Inyan, with only a couple of friends, true,
but visions of a global comradeship…

& I now think maybe it’s the autism
even more basically than the displacements
that affects also my feelings of not really belonging
to any one place, one country, one culture,
as if what I adopt & am adopted by I cannot adopt fully
as evidently I cannot fully commit emotionally
(which I stress, because where it matters practically I can and do)
not feeling fully Australian though Australia’s my home,
for more than a decade this third time around.

the first time I came with my mother when I was 10,
we arrived in Melbourne, Jewish refugees from Shanghai
I was by then no longer in any way Polish,
& from the time in Shanghai when I knew we were Australia-bound
I actually refused to speak to my mother in Polish
so that she could learn English quicker
(& have not spoken or felt Polish since, though I still remember
quite a few words, some opening lines of songs,
as of the national anthem, Jescze Polska nie zginęła,
“Poland is not yet lost”, well – it’s long lost to me).
I of course never thought of myself as Chinese, how could I have,
& the only group identity I accepted then was my being Jewish,
& though there was nothing of Judaism as a religion or of Jewish culture
in my parents’ lives, they had sent me to a Jewish school in Shanghai,
& my father spent the last year of his life
dying in the Shanghai Jewish Hospital,
as all the skin peeled painfully off his flesh
until he was swathed in bandages head to toes
with only his mouth & eyes & nostrils visible…
& died there on Yom Kippur (while I, 9, was praying
in the synagogue, because, yes, I tell the story elsewhere,
he also introduced me to the synagogue
after my parents found my rosary with its golden crucifix)
& was buried at the Shanghai Jewish Cemetery

& we lived in Elwood, St. Kilda, then again Elwood, St.Kilda,
then deep in South Caulfield for several years,
until at 23, after about a decade of membership & involvement,
belonging, to Zionist youth movements,
not one, but three, moving in dialectical leaps from right to left,
from the right-wing, militaristic Betar
(“The Jordan has two banks. This one is ours, & the other is too!”),
to the moderately socialistic Habonim
to the Marxist revolutionary-socialist Hashomer Hatzair,
including a year and a half of preparation for kibbutz living
on the Hebrew Training Farm some miles from Mooroopna
& some years of organizing and group-leading in the movement,
I boarded a ship bound for Genoa, hitchhiked for a few months
around Europe & then took ship to Haifa
to join a kibbutz in the Negev that the movement
had selected for the first Australian contingent
of which we two were the last, to join the kibbutz
because that was the ideal I then believed in & wanted to work for
more than to join the comrades who had arrived there before me
or rather fusing all these in the need to belong…
but almost three years later I no longer believed in that
& left the kibbutz, but not Israel, still feeling more Jewish than anything else,
and also thinking here’s a place where I don’t have to think about being Jewish,
I just am & so’s almost everybody else…
& all those years in Israel I couldn’t feel fully Israeli either,
I’d sometimes think of myself as Australian, but also felt I wasn’t….

the second time, I came with my wife of 16 months, also to Melbourne,
mainly to be near my mother, she wasn’t well…