At the Cathedral's Foot

by Adam Zagajewski In June once, in the evening, returning from a long trip, with memories of France's blooming trees still fresh in our minds, its yellow fields, green plane trees sprinting before the car, we sat on the curb at the cathedral's foot and spoke softly about disasters, about what lay ahead, the coming fear, and someone said this was the best we could do now- to talk of darkness in that bright shadow. Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh [1.5.09. Today I am entirely sure that I love this poem. I could not get it out of my mind, when I returned to the 'real' world after 7 days of intensive meditation retreat in June of '07].


by Samih al-Qasim The day I'm killed my killer will find tickets in my pockets: One to peace, one to fields and the rain, and one to humanity's conscience. I beg you--please don't waste them. I beg you, you who kill me: Go.

End of a Talk with a Jailer

by Samih al-Qasim From the narrow window of my small cell, I see trees that are smiling at me and rooftops crowded with my family. And windows weeping and praying for me. From the narrow window of my small cell-- I can see your big cell!

"As we were marching"

by Aharon Shabtai Two days ago in Rafi'ah, nine Arabs were killed, yesterday six were killed in Hebron, and today -- just two. Last year as we were marching from Shenkin Street, a man on a motorcycle shouted toward us: "Death to the Arabs!" You can read interviews with three Israeli poets on The News Hour's website .

the beginning of a difficult poem

by Agi Mishol (taken from a segment on "The News Hour" on PBS ) You are only twenty and your first pregnancy is a bomb. Under your broad skirt you are pregnant with dynamite and metal shavings. This is how you walk in the market, ticking among the people, you, Andaleeb Takatka. Someone loosened the screws in your head and launched you toward the city; even though you come from Bethlehem, the House of Bread, you chose a bakery. And there you pulled the trigger out of yourself, and together with the Sabbath loaves, sesame and poppy seed, you flung yourself into the sky.


by Richard Wilbur In any company, he listens hard For signs of vanity and self-regard Reacting to each name that’s dropped, to each Complacent anecdote or turn of speech With subtle indications of surprise— A wince, perhaps, a widening of the eyes, Or a slight lifting of the brow, addressed To the egomaniac within his breast.

An Elegy

by Wendell Berry I stand at the cistern in front of the old barn in the darkness, in the dead of winter, night strangely warm, the wind blowing, rattling an unlatched door. I draw the cold water up out of the ground, and drink. At the house the light is still waiting. An old man I've loved all my life is dying in his bed there. He is going slowly down from himself. In final obedience to his life, he follows his body out of our knowing. his hands, quiet on the sheet, keep a painful resemblance to what they no longer are.