TRANSLATION — Four Poems by Ronny Someck, translated by Avia Tadmor

I saw her once taking off her shirt.
Her bra was the color of a shack in the immigrant camp.
I exaggerate when I say her nipples were the comb
on a butchered rooster’s head,
and she might have lost her virginity on a cot provided by the Jewish Agency.
Her name was Niva. She was a candy box in which death resided.
Even now I can recall the chocolate traces at the corners of her mouth,
her palm releasing crows through the ravished window,
and her finger scolding, go away.





for my father

After he died
I found my mother’s picture in his wallet
and the Paratrooper’s Prayer, which I brought home for him once
from the base.
Such sadness, gusting through the door of a plane that will never land—
the cold wind
and my mother’s eyes, expanding like a parachute.




The Road to Arad
White sheep on the road to Arad,
deciduous teeth in the gums of the desert.
The war carries on,
the wolf that will live with them is not yet born.




To the Girl from Ward D in the Mental Health Institute

What does she dream about at night
when foxes dressed in darkness
encircle her bed, howling at the lamp
as if it were a rabid moon?

The cuts on her wrist, scabbed with roof-tile blood,
her eyes, drawn shut with lashes
and the doorway of her mouth
sealed with a word.
Madness is the hammer hitting the head of a nail
that hangs a pre-school drawing:

A house with lips at the window—
and teeth, already biting the hand
rocking the cradle.




Ronny Someck is a poet, author, and visual artist born in Baghdad and raised in Israel. He has published 11 volumes of poetry, which have been translated into 41 languages. Among his awards are the Prime Minister’s Award and the Yehuda Amichai Award for Hebrew Poetry. He teaches at various community organizations, low-income schools, and mental health institutes in Israel.

Avia Tadmor was born in Israel and is an MFA candidate in poetry and literary translation at Columbia University, where she also directs the Columbia Artist/Teachers Program. Her translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Asymptote and Mantis. She teaches creative writing at Gilda’s Club of New York, a support center for cancer patients and their families.

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