Issue 1, 2007

    Conversation 8


                                                                 Johnmichael Simon



                                            Words from Jerusalem


Here come the words

Stretching winged rainbows

From Jerusalem’s temple mount

To the Rockies icy heads

Pastel wishes for a humbler planet

Where each man wields his own plowshare

Content in the bounty of his lot

And leaves his tithe of golden harvest,

His bucket of clear spring water

For all hungry and thirsty to share

Thankful for the blessing

The giving


May our words touch yours

May our spirits mingle

May our seeds sprout, flourish

Grow tall, flower, grow their own pollen

May the birds take their petal-hues

And spread them, curving to distant places

From red to ultraviolet and back

And remind those with doubt in their hearts

Of the promise made to Noah

When the dove returned with a leaf

And rainbows ringed the world


© 2006 Johnmichael Simon



To Protect My Home


There’s a fence

atop a wall

around the garden

that surrounds my home


There’s a wall

within the fence

and there are wires

above the wall

around the garden

that surrounds my home


There’s a fire

licking over the wall

over the fence

burning the garden

that surrounds my home


There are eyes

behind the wall

that light the fires

that melt the wires

that blacken the walls

that burn the trees

in the garden

that surrounds my home


And so I flee

flee from the flames

that blacken the walls

flee from the fires

that surround my home


Flee to a new land

flee to a desert

flee to a valley

beneath a mountain

to rebuild my home


There are eyes

inside the mountain

eyes that glint from treetops

eyes that lust from caverns

and so I build a higher barrier

to surround my home


© 2006 Johnmichael Simon



Dreams of Peace


We circle the wide waters of Galilee

Violin lake shimmering shades of blue into turquoise

on our right tracks wind up past boulders to purple heights

we gaze down from fortifications empty now of blood

where hushed echoes of tank tracks and gunfire

zigzag across history’s scarred plains so that

even the fish glinting in the depths can hear them

and say to their children

‘this is how it was’.


Up into the finger of North beneath stars

we dip toes into icy streams sparkling life

from melted snow rushing by to join Jordan’s flow

of life.  Grafting words onto birds we watch them fly

the north wind, sailing like rocket shells, exploding

exploding in long weeks of colored stars that drift

down onto roofs, schools, hospitals
and in a final burst of fire, spread metal pellets

splintering glass, wood, flesh, glistening pink and red.


Lying under a bridge by a bend in Banyas stream

we watch the stars ripple out between ripening

apple years, fig years, cherry years,
close by soft water music
and silver laughter of playful fish

Wishing that peace was more than a dream,

more than a smudge on the map,

more than a prayer chanted at sunrises and Sabbaths


© 2006 Johnmichael Simon



Unnoticed on a Bus


she still flosses her teeth

that moon girl

wears long sleeved sweaters

up to her nostrils

dark slits for eyes

moonbeam catching eyes

vigilant and bright

layers of halos

she spins out of limbo

while dressing


coffee she sips through

a kaleidoscope

between her flossed teeth


he still uses his prayer book

lest memory err, that moon man

praising the Lord he winds and unwinds

strips of leather, cramped text

recites solemn syllables thrice daily

at bus stops, in bomb shelters, again

and again, and again again

a comforting ritual, like stirring tea

waiting for mercy, limp as a rag doll

to drop from heaven; one spoon,

two spoons, no moons, all moons


squeezed beside themselves

in a bus

moon girl, moon man

avert eyes into a fashion magazine,

a pocket sized bible,

under the sweater

a full-breasted moon

slit eyes deciphering

ink blot hieroglyphics,

bracketed eclipse, moon meets moon

on a bus

between limbo and heaven


© 2006 Johnmichael Simon



Tel Aviv Rhapsody


On Tchernichovsky Street where the King of Falafel

vies with Shlomo Butbul’s underwear store

for colorful magnificence; a pair of prostitutes

fresh from new republics who do not remember

Gorbachov or Mao Tse Tung, stroll between the stands.

They purchase black panties with red lips

pouting across the crotch and sample crisp brown

fried delicacies before parting with their ten shekels.


The sun is out, the tourists are arriving again,

business is picking up - during the war everyone

stayed home watching the news replays, counting

the Katyushas and Kassam rockets.  Hisbulla had

threatened to bomb Tel Aviv but Butbul had put a

sign up in front of his stand Israel is Strong and

another Fuck off Nasralla which seemed to have

kept them at a distance.


For Katerina customers had been few; the soldiers

were away in Lebanon, the furtive black-coated

ultra-religious were busy praying and only old Hezkiahu

whose wife had never given him a good time continued to

arrive for his weekly ritual.


Marina does not mention the black Reuters correspondent

who had sent her letters from a hotel in Metulla promising

to make her an honest woman. But she could not

stand the pain of him every night and besides that

her daughter would give her hell – 
she doesn’t approve of her mother’s men friends.


In the Ukraine everyone had been blonde and beautiful

and Marina had worked less hard, stayed home more often

making piroshki. She examines a bra made in China -

one day she will open her own boutique with fine silk

from Paris and embroidery from Hungary.  It is pleasurable

to daydream in the sun – and Maccabi Tel Aviv still has

a chance of winning the Euroleague.


Overhead a pair of F-15s wings their way to an international scandal.


© 2006 Johnmichael Simon



Sabbath Sun


We fought

after three days of pouting silence

oh how we fought

one of those unpin your mouth fights


Unearthing corpses

-years of tattered corpses


What I said when we were looking for a hotel

and your back hurt


What I said when you sent the food

back to the kitchen for the second time


How I ogled that girl on the escalator


How I refused to ask for directions

when you were tired and hungry


It was two in the morning,

five in the morning,

the fire had left our bones

we spoke about

the children

redecorating the lounge suite


The sun came up to warm us

it was a Sabbath sun

we made love

sank into each other again, so close

so warm, so wonderful


Like finding a favorite article of clothing

that you were sure you had lost


and it was there all the time

under the pillow


© 2006 Johnmichael Simon



Waters of Gaza


They moved out of Gaza
not without protest, not without prayer
feeling like ivy ripped off the walls
like irrigation pipes torn from the soil
they moved out on unwilling legs
on buses to nowhere
fathers, mothers, children
and children without fathers
without mothers

They moved into Gaza
not without covet, not without envy
feeling like water released from a dam
bursting into surrendering fields
carrying all before it, trees, houses
places of prayer, fences, gardens
waves breaking over alien temples
again and again till water covered all

After the water came briny hatred
lusting for a redder liquid
and the skies darkened again
lightening and thunder returned to Gaza
rained on this thin strip of unhappiness
writhing between the wrath of history
and the dark depths of the sea


© Johnmichael Simon





Copyright © 1999-2007  by Ulita Productions