Goddamn

By MORIEL ROTHMAN-ZECHER

Music by ABRAHAM KATZ

 

Northern Israel-Palestine

The chunk of the ball
On the cracked blacktop
And our torsos so covered
In sweat nearby the sea
Swells and the smell seeps
Into our hair and the air
Turns into night all around us
And the pebbles of the ball
Still tickle our palms as smoke
Trickles into our lungs before we
Know it it’s two in the morning
Or three and we are swearing
Sweating laughing and sure
Later the man will come to
Throw rocks at us and Shaily
Will slam his own body against
The chain link fence veins bulging
In his neck and yell old man I’m
Eighteen and fucking crazy why
Do you think they’re sending me
Into the army I’m fucking crazy
Don’t fuck with me old man and
The man will scramble back home
But the game will be over then
We’ll all head home we’ll hug
Goodbye smells and pebbles
Swelling in our nostrils but this
Is a present tense poem such
That the ball can keep bouncing
As long as it needs to the court                
Is open and the daylight is still
With us and the sea and no one
Is a soldier no one is gone no
No one is anywhere but here

 

Moriel Rothman-Zecher is a Jerusalem-born novelist and poet. His first novel, Sadness Is a White Bird (Atria Books, 2018), was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the National Jewish Book Award, among other accolades. His poetry and essays have been published in the New York Times, the Paris Review’s Daily, Runner’s World, Zyzzyva Magazine and elsewhere. Moriel lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with his family. He is the recipient of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35’ Honor, two MacDowell Colony Fellowships for Literature, and a Wallis Annenberg Helix Fellowship for Yiddish Cultural Studies. His second novel is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Abraham Katz is an American educator and musician. He explores the relationship between public and private being, earning a Masters of Public Policy from Duke University and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lately he lives in San Francisco, where he leads a team at a major social media corporation to combat the spread of misinformation.

Photo by author

Goddamn

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