existential wounds

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Love Poem
Yehuda Amichai
People use each other
To heal their pain. Each puts the other
on their existential wounds,
on the eye, the penis, the cunt,
the mouth, the open hand.
They grab one another and will not let go.

Photo by SHTTEFAN on Unsplash

“the heavens were hard above us”

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Because the idea of the mirror and its reflections – deceptive – hard to look at – bitter – angular – shying away from – never leave the mind.

We Did It
Yehuda Amichai

we did it

“‘Let’s be sensible’ & similar curses”

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Quick and Bitter
Yehuda Amichai

The end was quick and bitter.
Slow and sweet was the time between us,
slow and sweet were the nights
when my hands did not touch one another in despair but in the love
of your body which came
between them.

And when I entered into you
it seemed then that great happiness
could be measured with precision
of sharp pain. Quick and bitter.

Slow and sweet were the nights.
Now is bitter and grinding as sand—
‘Let’s be sensible’ and similar curses.

And as we stray further from love
we multiply the words,
words and sentences so long and orderly.
Had we remained together
we could have become a silence.

true life

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Untitled
-Yehuda Amichai
People in the dark always see people
In the light. It’s an old truth, since sun and night
Were created, people and darkness, and electricity.
A truth exploited by those who make war
For easy killing in an ambush, a truth that enables
The unhappy to see the happy, and the lonely — people in love
In a brightly lit room.
Yet true life is led between dark and light:
“I locked the door,” you said,
An important sentence, full of destiny.
I still remember the words,
But I forgot on which side of the door they were said,
Inside or outside.
And from the only letter I wrote to you
I remember only the bitter taste of
The stamp’s glue on my tongue.

Photo (c) 2006 MDV used under Creative Commons license.

“these words are like glass splinters”

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Years ago, I read this poem to my brother. He contemplated the ending in silence for a long time, as though he was poised to say something profound. Finally he exclaimed, with some exasperation, “MIST!”

Letter
-Yehuda Amichai
To sit on the veranda of a hotel in Jerusalem
and to write: sweetly pass the days
from desert to sea. And to write: Tears, here,
dry quickly. This little blot
is a tear that has melted ink. That’s how
they wrote a hundred years ago. “I have
drawn a circle round it.”

Time passes – like somebody who, on a telephone,
is laughing or weeping far away from me:
Whatever I’m hearing I can’t see.
And whatever I see I don’t hear.

We were not careful when we said “next year”
or “a month ago”. These words are like
glass splinters, which you can hurt yourself with,
Or cut veins. Those who do things like that.

But you were beautiful, like the interpretation
of ancient books.
Surplus of women in your far country
brought you to me, but
other statistics have taken you
away from me.

To live is to build a ship and a harbor
at the same time. And to complete the harbor
long after the ship was drowned.

And to finish: I remember only
that there was mist. And whoever
remembers only mist –
what does he remember?

May for the M word

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May is National Masturbation Month. In fact it’s International Masturbation Month! I will stick with poetry, which had its month in the sun during April, but masturbation is still an interesting and compelling topic.

“Ordinary people who do it think there’s something wrong with them, and it’s painted as a pathetic third choice if you can’t get someone to have sex with you. In fact, if you can shake off this bad rap, masturbation is amazing. It can provide extraordinary pleasure, or just help you get to sleep, teach you about your body and sexual responses, and help keep the blood flowing in the nethers, as they might say on Firefly. It’s good for you, unless you do it so much that you forget to eat or run afoul of the laws of physics — here I’m really talking about friction.”

Every article about the existence of masturbation month reminds us of Bill Clinton’s no-nonsense US Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, who wanted to normalize masturbation as healthy. And, hell’s bells, people – it is. We all do it. But this was back in 1994 and her approach was most certainly not accepted in the spirit in which it was meant. Contextually, Elders delivered this as a part of World AIDS Day message – total abstinence from all sexuality is unrealistic, but if we were to destigmatize masturbation, which seems like a pretty innocuous message to me, perhaps we’d not only open up dialogue about sexuality and sexual health in general but might stave off premature (and uninformed) sexual activity. Her message – no surprise – was taken to its extreme and false interpretation:

“She meant that we should teach kids that it’s okay to masturbate. Spin media decided that her message was: “let’s bring some dildos to class and teach these kindergartners to have some fun!” Not the situation Elders was suggesting. She later went on to explain that masturbation could prevent the spread of AIDS; unfortunately, her bold statements led to a forced resignation.”

And you know – sometimes masturbation might have been a better option for a lot of people. Case in point: woman hires male prostitute (referred to in the article as a “professional priapist”) in Germany and becomes pregnant. She tries to track down this unwitting sperm donor/once-owner to claim child support. But Germany’s rigid data privacy laws prevailed on the side of protecting the man’s anonymity.

Meanwhile, here’s a fun masturbation infographic. With wanking stats, not an infographic of masturbation itself.

And of course there’s a poem even for this. Many, in fact, but today’s is from Israel.

MASTURBATION
Yona Wallach
You slept again with Mr. No Man
loved his empty glance
and hugged his absent body.

The eyes of your lover look toward a foreign point
not exactly at you not on you,
he’s young and already so bitter.

The love that penetrated your flesh for an instant
fills your body and soul with heat
from the tips of your hair to your inner organs,

leaving you again with Mr. No Man
stroking with no hand your body
that responds with no emotion no expression
no heat on each stroke –

You showed the poem to your young lover
he responds with rage and says that it’s bad
and no poem at all and turns his back,
perhaps he thinks that he’s no man,

does he think that he’s no man?
doesn’t understand poetry, with feeling
demands too much, hours,
when five minutes of love would suffice
to fill an entire day with the heat required,

no man chills your emotions freezes
your body, the chill spreads through your limbs
freezing your cheeks and sending a nervous shudder
from the curve of a cheek to the opposite eye and extinguishing
the bud of emotion and sending the taste of pain
to the gullet to different parts of the neck and to the back.

You explain to your lover the meaning of the time of
love, five minutes are like hours
five hours even, there are all kinds, it’s worth it
to use all possible times whenever
for it’s impossible before work in the morning
to love three hours you have to warm up and that’s it
he catches on fast and tries but is disappointed
it doesn’t seem nice to him so fast
he wants it more plentiful than it is,
but he’s smart and there’s a chance an opportunity
like this might not return in his short lifetime
you have to change your ideas a little and adjust to the situation,
but again he’s alone with himself and with you
and demands the strength of a night in a brief morning.

You send a cold look to no man
and promise to meet him again in the evening
for sure he’ll  return, he is spiritual death
he gives the coldest look
and stands by you waiting to catch each feeling
through the air, to turn it into complete emptiness into nothingness.

You studied your lover’s look
his dark eyes two berries
that threaten to send a glance as soft
as the memory of the taste of grapes, looking in terror
and more than this blind nerves
that endanger
the soft shoots of feeling and love.

Will he go crazy you ask, will he lose,
the wind’s movement over his face marks
tracks that you expertly decipher,
you give voice to cheerful sounds
of stretching, he cooperates for a moment sends a smile
and you turn him inward with self-love
bring him out and stare at him as at a jewel,
he emerges from the old songs and he
is one of their heroes, also his beauty
is such, he is one of the wondrous names
so lost in the frightened anxious
being in the womb of society,
he will be born out of there even more monstrous
be born anew and will love you
each morning  as it should be as he is able,

he will get used to your prostitution whose source is internal
and logical otherwise it wouldn’t emerge
and its decency according to each honorable homely understanding
that distinguishes between what and how when and where,
and his love will wear less dead forms,
and you will surrender again to Mr. No Man
in the difficult moments he will freeze your fingers
stroking yourself with different desires,

but poems are just a technicality
acquired during years of living
the hero will live in every poetic form
as third person or first or second,

he will understand this also
will live as first person, second or third
the impression he makes is mainly that he
lives as third person with himself
speaks about himself as about he as about someone you’ve tired of,
speaks separates between himself and his sex
speaks about himself as about he and not about these his emotions
that’s someone else altogether the other
of whom he is jealous of whom he will be afraid,
sex that’s him, he gives it to him
you are his mother bring him up
give him back his confidence his faith in himself
you meet with Mr. No Man and learn about
other people about the other he
even though the he could be all kinds of natures
you join his separated sex to himself
it I feel it I sense it,
I my body my soul myself and flesh myself,
he will be cultivated will love operas and emotions,
will generalize with more ease about others of his kind,
because the fruit of love is short lived
even more than the fruits of a poem like this.