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


WORDS & MATTER / & NO MATTER (a gleaning, from 1988(?), & a meme, from today

words matter meme.jpg


Words are things, as material things are things; words can be objects, of our thoughts or our actions, as can material things, but whatever matter is, words are not matter. You could say, like numbers, but numbers are also words, a certain kind or class of words. Like thoughts, then? Thoughts are immaterial, but in a different way: every thought is, unique, it passes through the mind and is gone, if it comes again, as a memory, it is part of a new thought, or if you think the same thought at a different time and recognize it, it’s still another thought though its content seems the same. And thoughts are composed of words. You might have a non-verbal thought, but you mightn’t call it a thought, and when you do you use words. Thoughts also involve action, and so material things like electricity and chemicals in the brain are part of the process of thinking.

Words are like works of art, though also not like them. People say words are signs, but they can be more than signs, and can also not be signs. Every word was once invented by someone, whether as a sign or something else, and that invention is always a creation like a work of art. And if you say you don’t use works of art as you do words, think again, because there’s a sense in which you do, and artworks do too when they quote other artworks.

But you don’t ordinarily just contemplate a word like you do an artwork, and that’s the major difference: the artwork was created for contemplation, the word was generally intended for communication. And when a word was created for contemplation, it was no longer just a word, it was an artwork, a poem, or a mantra, which are other immaterial things in the world apart from words, but are also dependent on words. Even the most non-verbal humanly produced artifact, even if created by a deaf-mute never exposed to words who produces it by imitation, was once thought of and planned and brought to execution and public sharing by the mediation of words. And to this day no artist who is not spoken and written about in words can expect to be known as an artist.

So what is not material in our reality is dependent on words for our recognition and our relating to it. Words themselves do not invent all that is immaterial: the musician composes or plays, the sculptor and painter make forms and like the poet but without words, images; the dancer dances. What matter words?

But then, all that is material in our reality we relate to through words. Or the words are the accompaniment to the music of our perceptions and sensations and emotions, we use the words to organize or to believe we organize these experiences. What do words matter?

The words we have, and the ways we have of putting words together create the parameters of the reality we can relate to and the ways we have of relating to it. In optics, it is apparently known that because of the lattice-work of blood-vessels that veils our sight, we actually see perhaps 5% of what there is to be seen, and we put together a whole picture with our imaginations, and we believe that picture is what is there to be seen. That may be what we do with what we think we know through words.

The word is neither the written sign or the spoken sound. We write it, we speak it, but what we write is not it. We can’t use it up. It? I write its sign, you read its sign, but where is it?

The word, all the words there are so far, all those I know and those I don’t know, some of which I might learn and some of which never, are always “there”, and also “here” in my mind as long as I’ll be around. The words are untouched by my use of them, I think, but that needn’t be so. Perhaps I work a subtle change in the scent of each.

As words, all words are equal. There seems to be no single word that is radically primal, so one could say that all words, and the very existence of words and such, derive from it. If there is or ever was a language that began out of someone simultaneously speaking and inventing a single word and someone else hearing it and understanding it as what it was, that word is unknown. There are radical words, that a number of words may derive from. Like in English you have words made from radicals with prefixes or suffixes. Have you ever thought of all the words that are made by putting prefixes before -cept or -ceive or -ception, or before -vert or -verse or -version?

No matter, words matter.

Some poetry gleaned while Collating Smatterings of Memoirings (1) / From 1987: “For Nitza”

spg from1987


“What’s this? A poem?
“You’re working much too hard.”
“This isn’t work, it’s poetry.”
“I hope you’re writing about me.”
“Not tonight, my dear.
“Well, now you’ve asked, maybe I will.”

Thank you for the hot tea on your way to bed thank you for
my electric blanket thank you for being there, loving,

mother dove
girlfriend love

you know: though all my memories
of scenes do blank
this I joyingly know

you are around me inside me beside me
also when I don’t remember


soft crystal
warm diamond
earth of my tree, tree of my earth
tho not
sea of my sky, nor sky of my sea

for my sea is humanity & my sky is its sky
as they’re yours,

in this cell
of the world to come.


let me tell you about the world to come let me
the world to come is the world that’s coming
now. Ev
ry now.
It star
ts with
& not
looking                        here
back in                        we’re
anger or
in angst
or seek
ing the A
lpha or O
mega. It
begins with the closed beginning open ended B_e_t_h of B_e_r_e_i_s_h_i_t_h_, G_e_n_e_s_i_s
which we’ve turned around, heading east as the earth rolls
westward, ho!

is where

going into
the world
that’s coming

& that’s all
I want to say
about it


I don’t want to be in cyber-activist mode all the time, responding here or on Facebook to each new report of another atrocity here, another atrocity there, rebuffing false historical claims by apologists for oppressive regimes, supporting the struggles of the oppressed, collating & disseminating the stories of the expelled, dispossessed, marginalized, etc , etc, all of which I do when I do it because of my feelings for & with them, but I can’t & don’t want that to be the focus of my “spare” time, the time I have left, each day of the days I have left, between things I need to do for my & our physical & economic etc maintenance & the time I spend with family &/or friends &/or on a nightly episode or two of a good tv series… I want some of that for this, just blogging, & some of it for just being, being with, whatever I’m with at that moment, something like what I found this morning on pages 14–15 of the 1976 Folio 1 I started copying from yesterday.


with c2

p. 14

He sat cross-legged by the lake, gazing at the gently moving ceaselessly reflecting surface. The joint, rolled in the lavatory at the printing works before the lunchbreak, and smoked while driving thru Albert Park to the lakeside, was working on him already, opening him to seeing and hearing and sensing what had always been there to be seen and heard and sensed though he’d been to closed off in thought to notice. It was all so – beautiful, no other word would serve, and beautiful in no abstract sense; it was like, no, not like, it was, being in love, though this was crazy, to love the face (as it were) of the earth, of its seemingly unbounded body beautiful with all its febrile strands and tendrils in motion, fine-pointed blades of grass bursting from small stems, patterns of stones down to the rippling water reflecting blue, the sky not a dome of empty air but a fullness of patterned motion, watching all this seated here in love with the beauty, a plenitude that asked nothing and in this too was a secret of its love-inspiring power.

This was the third time he had turned on, the third time he had felt anything like this in his life. Not like any memory of childhood, either, but new – and yet, real, right, realer and righter (he KNEW) than anything he’d known. The first time, the effects had lasted all the way into the next day. After the evening, at home… he had taken the next day off, and gone to the Alexandra Gardens, mostly to lie on the grass & gaze & absorb in always new wonder & love every detail of everything that his attention turned to in the constantly changing sphere of all he could sense or perceive…


p. 15

This, this kind of being contains everything else, he thought. Even if it’s not time-controlled. Here: imagine a writer trying to grasp it all. But a writer has to limit himself to one stream. Here: who will contain what? Will this kind of being contain that of the writer, or the other way around? Will I be doing it for what I can later report about it, my attitude that of an investigator, or will I go in all the way, not even for the sake of discoveries, but to be this way for the sake of being this way, because it’s the best way to be. with

From 1976 Folio 1 p. 15 (click to enlarge)

From 1976 Folio 1 p. 15 (click to enlarge)


i think “a new way…

… for me, starting today,
just sit to blog a bit each day
with no idea what i’ll say”

easy to say, yet the confidence came only after i realized i have a back-up:
the idea that came before that thought, the blog piece I thought I’d do today:
SUW (Selections from Unpublished Writings) 1: Folio (foolscap-size notebook) 1, 1976, pp. 2–4

& that’s what i’ll start with. First scan the epigraphs on p. 2 (p. 1 is blank)

folio1 p2

1976 Folio 1 p. 2 (click to enlarge)

… but such a felyship of good knyghtes
shall never be togydirs in so company…


And for to pass the time this book shall be pleasant
to read in; but for to give faith and believe all is
true that is contained herein, ye be at your liberty.
But all is written for our doctrine, that we fall
not to vice ne sin, but to exercise and follow virtue…


… but thou art but a fool to take thought,
for it will not amend thee…


me repenteth … that ever I came within this country, but I
may not turn now again for shame, and what adventure shall
fall to me, be it life or death, I will take the adventure
that shall come to me.


I didn’t remember where these quotes were from, or why I’d chosen to use them as epigraphs. For a moment I thought the first one might have been form Chaucer. Then I googled. Turned out it was from Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, first published in 1485 by William Caxton, & the second one turned out to be from Caxton’s Preface, & the third & fourth also from other parts of Malory’s book, which I must have been reading at the time, maybe wondering if I might want to use it in one of my university literature classes, or maybe just because it interested me at the time. I can’t make out right now what this selection says about the state I was in when I started this new folio after a period of little or occasional scattered writing. I may have thought of the “good knyghtes” of the first epigraph as metaphors for the writings that would accumulate in the folio; I can understand how I liked the first three lines of the Caxton quote, but don’t know why I copied the next two, unless as irony; the third may have made sense to me when contrasted with actual doing, while the fourth, well, maybe I identified somehow with the stoicism it expresses. I don’t think I related consciously to the contexts of each passage from Malory (which I’ve rediscovered by googling), & can’t see today how Arthur’s thoughts about Guinevere, or Merlin’s reasons for saying what he says to Arthur, or Balin’s situation in which he voices these feelings relate to who I was then & what I was feeling. I may learn more from the facing page:


I stopped, feeling how weak it was, and, with so much effort needed to keep going, what was the point. So many other things need doing. they too decisions once made and not completed.
But stopping’s no good either. Call it circles, spinning or vicious, cycles or spirals, it doesn’t matter – now no matter child the name, a Burgess could make it funny at leat, but this is what there is. And Teacher’s whiskey – no shit.
I don’t have a single goal, that’s my trouble. Too skeptical. Or a single trouble. But to do at least one thing well, like the circus people. I read poetry passing well. And other things. But that changes very little in my circumstances, or anywhere else. A grown man reading the exploits of the knights of the Round Table, or the Fatah. And you can’t get away, or into something else, because that’s always too minor or minute or something.
Once, during one period of my life, everything […] not only fitted together, but, I believed, was moving things forward the way they had to be moved. And much more so than when I’d been in the youth movement and the kibbutz. For then, on the one hand there’d been some skepticism at least, some doubt and reasoning, especially after the 20th Congress – and, on the other hand, sacrrifices: things you didn’t do or shouldn’t ot mustn’t do, and things one just didn’t have time for. But this period was different: I did everything I wanted when I wanted, and in doing so felt the world being changed. It may not have been the sanest period of my life, but it felt – the rightest…
[…] write about it now? […] Like: it’s no good keeping cards in your hand, you can get caught with them – the way I did this afternoon playing rummy with N and J. I could have put down three color cards on their builds, and I didn’t, thinking I’d finish quicker if I kept them.
But I’d have to change the names. It’s not that I’m afraid of libel suits: it’s that I don’t thin it’s fair to expose the lives of others, or of what I know of others, to public view. If i’m willing to expose mysekf, that’s something else. And not just names – beause then I still won’t be free enough to say what I know, it’ll be too easy foor some people at least to convert the names back again. And since what I’d be writing would be based on my limited knowledge, distortions would be inevitable, meaking it even less fair. Here, then, is a motive for fiction.
What will I call the place? …] And how? A number of ways, as Durrell did in the Alexandria Quartet? Why? They must grow out of the conception.
Play the cards you have.


I didn’t. Without looking through the rest of this folio, or the others, I know I didn’t. I’ve never written a truly fictional story, let alone a novel. I just don’t have that kind of imagination. Beneath that writing, which was in pen, are lines of verse, in pencil:


Rain on the pane, drops
like plummeting me-
teors, like longtailed tad-
poles, spermatozoa
downward plunging to ex-
tinction, listen to the fall-
ing rain, sings felici-
ano on the voice
of peace, the fyrside
warms the room with the desk
piled with students’ ex-
plications of my love
is like to ice and I
to fire, thunder under
my thoughts, over my head,
the cat’s mewing to go
outside and not going
when I open the door
many songs later, music
instead of news of wars
and politics.
raindrops unseen
as receiver, O, of all,
I complain of nothing
and comprehend less.
I know I can’t take the
framed pane and hang it
in a gallery with the roundhead
longtails squiggling past each
other down to nothing and only
occasionally swallowing
other drops on their path.

So that was the adventure that came that day, about 38 years ago, to 40-year-old me, in our apartment facing Napoleon Hill in Ramat Gan, in NYC terms the western borough of Greater Tel Aviv.

& this is the adventure that came to me today, in our home on this hillock in a valley west-south-west of Mullumbimby in north-eastern New South Wales, after a day and a half of almost ceaseless rain, welcome after a long dry, but it has stopped for some hours now…