An Israeli Poet

The following poem by Israeli  Aharon Shabtai is translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole. It appears in his aptly entitled collection from New Directions, J’Accuse.


I, too, have declared war:
You’ll need to divert part of the force
deployed to wipe out the Arabs —
to drive them out of their homes
and expropriate their land —
and set it against me.
You’ve got tanks and planes,
and soldiers by the battalion;
you’ve got the rams’ horns in your hands
with which to rouse the masses;
you’ve got men to interrogate and torture;
you’ve got cells for detention.
I have only this heart
with which I give shelter
to an Arab child.
Aim your weapon at it:
even if you blow it apart
it will always,
always mock you.

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