The Knives of Jerusalem

by Thomas Ország-Land (April 2016)




Do your best, mate.

I’ll survive anything

vile – save death.  

And that can wait.






Ephemeral lives, and… immortal words. A poet once sang

before his murder: A barefooted blast of wind sprints past

but treads on broken glass and screaming hops away –

Oh, April, with yearning buds beneath a bursting sky!...*

The singer is gone with the past. The words have taken root.

And every year, as his song for spring returns, such bloodied,

small April winds hop along the dusty roads across

our fleeting, our only time and space – the first and the last.


*Miklós Radnóti, Calendar (1941)






I know the icy gale that blows

its kiss inside my warmest clothes

beneath a howling moon.

But this wind whistles my tune.






While there's still time to sing and laugh

I shall attempt this epitaph.

He was a jester and a king,

and at his best he was much more:

a child, enjoying everything.






You’re here to feed your pension and tension.

I’m chasing a soaring bird – the truth.

We are not even friendly rivals.

I covet neither your fancy title

nor your impressive, official hat.

I am a writer. I couldn’t be more

than that – though I could be, I could be, less.






A Pesach egg, quick, on the treble,

rolls down the lawn pursued by trouble:


all teeth, all paws, all fur – a reckless

pack of puppies for a peck.


They nearly knock down as they pass

two tiny giants in the grass.



THOMAS ORSZÁG-LAND is a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent who writes for New English Review from Europe and the Middle East. His last book was Survivors: Hungarian Jewish Poets of the Holocaust (Smokestack/England, 2014), and his last E-chapbook, Reading for Rush Hour: A Pamphlet in Praise of Passion (Snakeskin/England, 2016).

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