“Painful Birds” by Elisha Porat

Elisha Porat


The helicopters, skillful, painful birds,
Again bombard targets above my head:
I sit shaking at my writing desk,
I bend down to my notebook, clench
My shaking pen. As if they know …
As if they sense an inner tracer, a red laser
Signal: they make another bomb run,
This time circling above my aging heart,
Who hastens to remove its rooms
And empty spaces as though they had become
Black tanks, easy targets, sluggish vehicles
Flooded by grief and suffering.

—translated from the Hebrew by Ward Kelley and the author

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004
Tribute to Poets Writing Abroad


Elisha Porat: “My small kibbutz, my small village, is located at the Sharon plane in Israel. The short way, the air way, from Samaria to the main hospitals is directly above my roof. So, when I’m sitting to my papers, trying to work, the terrible noise of the helicopters clenches the fist of my heart. The helicopters are the bad birds of the burning Middle East. They carry the tragic reality of the endless war. I try to shut my ears to this sad din, but I cant. So the writing of the poems is my imaginary shelter.”

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