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A Mediterranean Pantoum and another little gem

This week I learned what a “pantoum” is. Yeah, yeah. Say what you want. Ignorant, blah blah. But better late than never, right?

I learned what it was because I bought the book of a friend, Shachar-Mario Mordechai, who recently won a national poetry competition [Heb] and just published his first book of poems in Hebrew called “History of the Future”.

I’ve been enjoying reading this stuff, and so have the critics. Erez Schweitzer of Haaretz [Heb] said that the book has “a very reliable and convincing voice, it is the voice of a poet who has his way with words. And it seems that he has much to say”. Eli Hirsch of Yedioth says Shachar is “a talented poet, quicker and more educated than most of his generation”.

I liked some of the poems so much, I thought I’d take a shot at translating a couple of them. Translating poems is uncharted territory for me – but fortunately Shachar has approved them and granted me permission to publish them here.

Shachar-Mario Mordechai (Photo: Moti Kikion)

A Mediterranean Pantoum

The sea pulled me down to its bottom
A flock of seagulls rose above me
You were reading a book on the beach
In silent expectation of the sunset.

Clouds filled the land
The sea pulled me down to its bottom
The sky filled with fish
You were reading a book on the beach.

The hero was dying amongst your pages
Clouds filled the land
Coffee dove to the bottom of your mug
The sky filled with fish.

A flock of seagulls rose above me
The hero was dying amongst your pages
In silent expectation of the sunset
Coffee dove to the bottom of your mug.


Listen to This Conversation I Overheard at the Market

Can you believe how cute this guy is? In the morning
he brings me in bed freshly squeezed
and coffee and yogurt with like, fruit
like when we eat muesli
except that he makes it himself

And for lunch if he has time he makes me
chicken liver in wine, to die for

And even in the evening, he’s so into it, he makes me
halvah pie, can you believe it? Or a salad
so tasty with Bulgarian
and olives.

I’m telling you – if not for him, I would die
of hunger.

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