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Cradled among the beets
What kind of rain and wind?
Now, not too wet
The jackets and the pants.

Back from a rainy fair
Sometimes, not even unpacked,
Tired, broken,
Worse than after wood cutting…

Still one hurries to Shul
To Minche
To pay HIM… the debt
To the Holiness, a blessing.

A way with what was,
When it is a nice day again
Back to it is…
Here comes a new fair.

Here sits the shoemaker
Glued to his stool
Piercing the leather
By the light of a dim lamp.

With shaded eyes
Turns the metal wire
Finds the hog's hair
Makes a little patch.

Rises with the sunrise
Before day break
With the first Minyan
Reads a chapter Tehillim.


kli002a.jpg [24 KB]

Soda water with juice


Look around
At the store on the corner
What a choice…
Soda water with juice.

Further, up the street
Sour cucumbers in pails
Beets sour in pots
And tin cups.

At the corner on a shelve
Rolls, bagels, challahs
A woman leads a bull
Who drives her nuts…

A group forms around the unbeliever
"RAHMANA LTZALAN"
(May the Merciful save),
From his doctrine, sticks the devil out.

A faithful screams
"Stop the discussion"
Not to Palestine!
Wait for the Meshiach.

From across the market
Where the wealthy live
Neighbors quarrel there
From door to door.

Insults, blasphemies
Sometimes a fist fight
Also with whitewash and pots
Among two competitors

In the market, near a wagon
Upset is a goy with a cane,
Complains about
His big expenses

To the carpenter, a coffin,
To the priest, a prayer.
The debts, heavy,
The deceased but forgotten.

Two grab the cane
Pulling the buyer towards themselves
Soon, hollow screams:
This goy, I serve.

The farmer is asked
Is your father still alive?
He waits, week after week
How much longer?

With furrowed brow
The wheat vendor
Tries to think
What to do, what to buy.

Wheat, barley, corn
Oats, other grains?
All figured out
But where to get the cash?

Out he sends his wife to ask
For a loan from those
He dares not cross their threshold
But she is not a SHLEMIEL (fool).

The market is on.
She walks and walks.
The heart full of worries:
How does one repay the debts?

From wagons packed with sacks
Pulled by Bubbies (old ladies)
Out come geese, eggs, chickens
All along the track,

From every street and corner
Animals, birds of all kinds
Jews check the bags
Women check the chickens for Shabbos.

Farther up at the bazaar
The farmers arrive
With cows, udders full
One looks at the teeth.

They ride the horses. The "kaniezshes"
(horse experts) look for defects
Like the teeth, their age.
They appraise the value.

Outside, rows of clothes
All sizes, big and small
By the hangers, idlers
Stand around, trying on.

At the hat maker
With the voice of a bass
He has the store
With its shelves full.

Shining "dashekes" (visors)
National "matchivakes" (caps)
Jewish hats and farmers' shawls …
All on shelves, laid out.

Harvest time is here,
Farmers spend
In the stores, the metal clang of
Of sickles, scythes.

For fathers and sons
Tables, beds, sleeping benches
Side by side with
Dressers painted green.

From the benches in the tavern
Uneasiness. Farmers,
Tattlers gossip. Murmurs:
"Jesus!"…, "Holy Mother!".

A young mother blessed.
Some luck! Woe and sorrow
The farmer's piercing stare
In the cradle, a bit of hay.

The fair is over.
Jews and goyim return home
To villages and neighboring towns
Through muddy ways and clay.

The merchandise, packed away
But the price bargaining goes on
Try on, weigh and deliver.
The oven bakes...

Women by the stalls
Some farmers, men and women
Try on shirts, underwear, ribbons
And necklaces of the nicest and best.

Farmers, male and female
Know about the Jewish ways.
Jews know about their holy days
And live in peace amongst themselves.

Comes Friday,
They get a bit restless
Look on with grief
The baking is from their wheat….

We plant and cut the grain
Make everything ready.
The "Jides" do not bother
They bake cakes and challahs.

Luck strikes only
When the farmers come
To buy with cash money
From the merchant or artisan.

Last week's debt
Is paid
After the sale
Still empty pockets…

Friday afternoon
Stalls and stores, closed
Quiet in town
Jews go to the bath.

Summer
In the river
Swimming in virtual suits
Just like Adam and Eve…

Suddenly, a scream
Everybody quickly runs
From the hay field
Comes the farmer with his dog.

Scared and pale
Putting on their shirts
Whether poor or rich
Only by the shirts, you know which.

Put away, needle and scissors
Merchants, their measurers and weights.
From the train, a whistle.
Women light candles.

Last week, late came
The coachman, unharnessing the
Horses, with a blasphemy
Just made it in time for Shabbos.

Winter – the frost
Summer – the heat
No time left over
To go for a sweat.

A businessman is watching
For a runner on foot
With the bale on his back
There is no other way

A week, the scale not used…
Day by day, the runner does not tire.
He hardly reaches the Jew
For an overnight stay.

Just a bundle of straw
For the two, in bed.
That was a gift from a "goy"
His grandfather's friend.



*   *   *



Jews, arriving from a fair
"Orchim", important guest
After handshakes, – Shulim,
Are taken home For Shabbos "Kest".

Near the window, sits the mother.
Reads, intently, word by word.
Sure, she is, that in heaven
God himself listens to her.

The mother sets the table
All graceful and flushed,
Humble and clean,
Eyes full of fervor and kindness.

Forget now, everything.
Table set Shabbos-like.
The week is gone, like a wind
One starts with the fish…

Thanksgiving with a song
Each to his own accord
Artisan, merchant,
Coachman and porter.

The Infidel from the past
For Shabbos, an important guest
Arrived from Israel
Joking and laughing.

Today, Shabbos
Resting are the horses,
The goyim, the bubbies
Who cares?

The strollers go for a walk…
The country is in bloom
Follow the frogs' croaks
Like a song in honor of Shabbos.

The youngsters while strolling
Meet by the bridge
Not you or me
To watch after them.

Among sisters and brothers
Without purpose or aim
Always in a turmoil
Seldom, is there quiet.

Shabbos, a hot day
Thirsty for a cold drink
Just a life saver, but
All the corners are closed.

Two fellows are sent
With a can on a cane
Held by the end
To fetch a drink for father.

Returning from the fountain
Thirsty, they
Arrived home
With an empty can…only.

The coachman harnesses
Horses to the wagon
Soon after "havduleh"
Leaves at day break.



*   *   *



Early, on Sunday
The merchant looks for a loan
His only worries
Are about expenses.

What about merchandise?
Could not be bothered,
It is an old knowledge (toireh)
To get them, on credit.

One can see
Winter is coming
When you have to walk
Under frost and snow.

Potatoes, even slightly squashed
Scatter like flour
It grips the heart
The mouth drools.

Coal, wood.
Chicken fat,
Worries, no end
All at once.

Asking the children
But not without praise
Not to cry
If there is a roof over your head.

It may happen when it rains
That it leaks a bit,
Move the bed away,
Put a bowl under.

The walls are full of pictures
Of entire families,
Parents, cousins and children
All framed.

Always the longing
For togetherness
Thinking and pondering
Knocking heads on wall…

Lonely and waiting
Hoping, maybe, someday
Not to be a stranger
Go to Israel.

Today, early Sunday,
No need to hurry
The goyim rest…
Linger a bit at the "beit midrash".

Peer into a book.
The only weekday
To talk politics.
I… go to mend a hole.

Home, a ship without an oar…
With boys to cope with
They are sent to the "Cheder"
Girls, another story.

The girls, already play their role,
Combed heads,
Ribbons in the braids.
They go to school.

They are better pupils than
The "shiksalach"
Reluctantly, confesses the teacher,
Straight forward.

On the second day of the week
When they also rest
The girls move ahead
By learning some more at home.

The grown ups work for a living,
It is important for Mother and Father.
The small ones buzz around like bees
Crowded all in one room.

Worries about shoes and clothing
When girls grow up.
Young parents are graying
Aging a year everyday.

The baker stands
In a state of despair –
Cash for the woodcutter,
Just a minor problem.

What about flour? The thing is so –
The miller is a Jew
Different than a goy
"Zaplatsh" (pay out) "dirty Jew".

Look how the embittered butcher
Stands in his difficult state
While the rabbi thumbs
Through the pages…

A blip on the lungs
Of a slaughtered animal.
The inquiry, not a light one,
His fortune, endangered.


A voice is heard from the "Shochet"
About this dispute
There is a ruling
If the loss is to be too big…

The heart pounds,
A town full of buyers
A ruling, found – "Kosher"
According to the "Achronim"(latter eldest).

He keeps in mind
Not to forget for Shabbos,
From the "minyan"
A guest for a meal to invite.

Spring, nature in bloom.
Later, looking around,
The trees are heavy with fruit
In the gardener's orchard.

Blizzards and wind arrive,
The eternal foes,
Little left for sale
Or the household.

Heaven overcast with clouds,
Holy days are coming.
Going to visit the place
Of eternal rest…

Where, in solitude and tears
Entrusted to the earth
Where they belong,
Lay my dear ones.

While bending over the graves
There is no jealousy
Between rich and poor.
In deliverance the belief…

Just before the "Yamim Tovim"
Wet and rainy days, sits the Jew
In the orchard, with a rod
Watching over the plums

Leaving the booth in the orchard
Leans the rod on the wall,
A screened booth also exists in the town
Near the synagogue.

The fruits left over on the trees.
At home barrels and bags all over.
Hardly any room left,
The beds put alongside.


On the eve of Succot
The village is astir.
Cleaning and preparing
Chopping fish on wooden boards.

Veal cuts straight from the stove
Nice portions, prepared
To be served to the men in the Succah
To outshine the neighbors…

Handkerchiefs covered heads
Women by the stalls
Swollen hands and feet
Behind pots on the fire.



kli002b.jpg [22 KB]

The Water Bearer


Can you remember?
Near the fountain,
A water bearer coming and going,
A frozen rope around the cans.

When the storm blows
With water over the roof,
Standing in the rain
Screamed at with anger…

The face not yet washed!
Even paying with "rendlah" (money)
It takes days and years
And water? In half cans.

Small children left at home
With the husband,
A good for nothing (lo itzlach).
She makes the effort, she is the provider.

Windowpanes, covered with ice,
The chimney always fuming.
A cat to hunt the rats…
Who has the strength for all of this?

Shabbos, early,
Late by the clock.
Darkness in the room,
Noises from the bedding.

The wood is wet.
The heater lady
Not easily found
To chop some wood.

First, the washing
And after all…
Down from the attic
Even if not dry.

When two weddings, in town
Everybody, equally happy
Dancing a circle
Are the rich and poor.

The jester, never tires
To show his tricks.
Always the same song
Laughing are all, big and small.



*   *   *



If the mute tombstones
Could talk and hear
They would bears witnesses
To an ocean of tears.

Where do you get the strength
To suffer through the fear?
The mind cannot grasp
That my "Yiddin", are no more!!!

I hear their voices
And see them waiting
In the park of stones
Until I come.


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