Walking the (gang)plank

•May 30, 2009 • Leave a Comment

First off, some new poems… don’t be niggardly with feedback. There’s more to come, I have a few I have to chop up into posting trim.

Big news- your favorite undocumented drone is now an official immigrant, burdened with all the rights and paperwork therein. At my age, the government demands only six month of military service. I expect they’ll make me drive concrete from Beit Naballa to Kiryat Shmona or post me in some laundry warehouse full of russian malcontents. Luckily I have sufficient bureaucratic mana to obtain a written draft-delay form from the Technion so I can finish my degree before they dress me up like a crumpled olive leaf and make me salute.

For all you returning citizens… here’s a partial list of the forms I needed to hand in before they would even look at me:

Both passports,
Government ID (Teudat Zehut),
Grade transcripts dating back to 1997 (turns out my middle school grades have been archived on microfiche),
Work authorizations from both parents’ workplaces accounting for the last 5 years,
Transcripts from the Technion since I arrived,
Authorization from the military drafting station verifying that they know where they can find me.

The road is long but there are cookies at the finish line.

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(Inter)National Poetry Month

•April 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So the poet-posse back home has alerted me to the opening of National Poetry Month, in whose honor everybody has decided to write a poem per day. So, good old peer pressure aside, I figured this would be a good exercise since I haven’t written almost anything since I got back from the States at the beginning of last month. One-a-day means that I spend considerably less time with each poem, so feel free to really lay into the lemons. Posts go to the thused poetics blog… (See sidebar)

Awkward Syntax

•March 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Here’s a dilemma: How do you describe the unbridled hilarity of botched translations to a blog audience that doesn’t speak the language? I struggle with this daily. For example, here’s  a snapshot of a local supermarket marketing sign that has been up in the window for at least a month. The store is advertising ‘radiation flavored’ Pringles.

New Electromagnetic Flavored Pringles

New Electromagnetic Flavored Pringles

Turns out some poor dictionary-toting retail clerk translated Pringles “Light” into the Israeli word for visible light, totally different from the term used to denote the antonym of heavy (which is commonly used to indicate ‘low-fat.’) Yes, an English speaker might pick up on this right away, but most Israelis will stare at it for hours without cluing-in to the punnish error. More often than not, Israelis’ first thought is of “skin-flavored” Pringles, a far grislier interpretation that stems from the Hebrew near-homonyms of “Oar” (aleph-vav-reish) and “Or” (eyin-vav-reish). Inside jokes for a bi-cultural audience…

Chapbooks Printed

•February 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Just got back from Kinkos with an armfull of new chapbooks. There are two new booklets:

Oriented (poems of expatriation and homeland) and
Act Normal (poems of love and oddity)

To order one of these puppies for the measly price of $8 ($4 students) plus shipping, drop me a line at j o n l i b at gmail dot com.

Home

•February 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Marooned on Michigan Highway 31, just south of an old high-school buddy’s wedding. Third out of five weddings for the year. Looks like marriage is still very much in vogue for the mid-twenties crowd. For me, the idea seems very far away, but I suppose its one of those things that sneaks up on you.

Michigan is not easy to come home to. Not enough changes. You’ve been gone; you’ve built a reputation somewhere else, a reputation no one here remembers. You’ve acquired skills and possessions that seem ridiculous in Michigan, that stern-faced and pragmatic bride. You’ve lost a little weight, fallen in love and been surprised again by heartbreak; you’ve grown quieter in crowds and more talkative in pairs, a little easier on yourself, looser with money, harder headed, blind on matters which make Michigan seem trifling. You dress differently, you cower from the childhood cold, you lean more. Meanwhile in Michigan, nothing has changed. The same old storefront decals, same leather coat still hung up by the door, with the same trinkets in the pockets, same names tumbling through the wind funnels of gossip, the same smells in each of mother’s cabinets in turn. The famous highschool couples mostly married, some with kids; the famous burger joints and bars still serving the same menus, which seem paler after countless recountings abroad. Michigan, your nephews are leaving. Your sisters are leaving. Your children wander the earth, trying to find you elsewhere and forgetting that you’re still at home.

I got snow. What I wanted. Snow like I remember: three-foot drifts, frost in the eyelashes, torn silver floating earthwards, alabaster dough squirting from under tires. I even plowed my brother’s car into a curb, which is why I’ve spent my Sunday in a white, humming motel room waiting for the new-world Sabbath to pass over. The flight I was supposed to be on is now somewhere over New Brunswick. I think of Israel and I feel homesick, which is a sort of fortunate-man’s curse, to have home multiplied so that you’re always feeling homesick for somewhere, though usually that somewhere is in memory.

Planes Trains and Budgetmobiles

•December 21, 2008 • 2 Comments

By now we’ve all heard of Obama’s massive planned public works projects, a throwback to the days when infrastructure development could serve as a short-ticket to job creation and economic stimulus. There are, no doubt, certain problems with the concept (not everybody who’s lost their job in this recession is qualified for, or even desirous of, a 9 to 5 resurfacing the interstate), but reinvesting in our federal infrastructure is never a bad idea. As the fourth-republic budget gets gnashed through the gears of Congress, why don’t we hear anybody talking about railroads?

For an administration that conceits to taking carbon budgeting seriously and promises higher efficiency transportation, the development of viable, short-range, light rail system in densely populated corners of the country seems like a no-brainer. Rail travel is cleaner and cheaper than car or plane travel; and in the age of hours-long waits at major airports and mind-numbing tarmac delays, may even save time over short-range flights. Think of it this way: To fly from New York to Boston or from L.A. to S.F., you’re already spending upwards of 400% more time at the airport than in the air. What if you could make the trip in an essentially equivalent amount of time, but without dealing with lines, embarrassing pat-downs, late planes, uncomfortable seats and restrictive baggage requirements. Moreover, you could skip the endless hassle of scouring the internet for deals and getting gouged with hidden taxes. Plus it would be cheaper.

Naturally, America is just too big to incorporate the kind of large-scale railroad system that we see in western europe, but certain regions are certainly dense enough to support rail networks which aspire to more that the “extended suburb” service of trains like the Long Island Railroad. Rerouting travel from car or plane to train would not only increase energy efficiency in general, but would also reduce our reliance on oil, since trains could be powered using electricity, which is centrally produced at power plants (themselves a great candidate for green upgrades).

Obama plans to earmark $675-775 billion in stimulus funds. He wants to create 3 million new jobs. The money and manpower are waiting in the wings. Lets ask our favorite new reformer for a real change in the American transportation sector.

Hot off the griddle

•November 17, 2008 • 2 Comments

Quickie: Two new poems. One is brand new (Nightmare in Retrospect) and the other (The drawing lesson) is an old poem that just got accepted into the upcoming Voices Israel anthology. Look right –> before crossing.

Nightmare in retrospect came out of a new dream journal project I am working on, and which might turn into a cycle. The journal is working wonders for my recollection. I recently saw the new movie, Phantom Love, by Nina Menkes, which got me going on the dream imagist kick. The movie, a lush series of dream-images, is a near-silent and beautifully shot B&W number whose only drawbacks are the excrutiatingly tedious and boring scenes of the protagonists’ waking life which lend contrast to her interior sensuality. That and the overblown plot element of the psychotic sister. Still, the dutifully and bravely excavated images that Menkes bears before us have the dream-like ability to burrow down into my head and then bloom unexpectedly, even a week later, into my conciousness. When I entered the theater, the show had nearly sold out. By the time the credits rolled, there were only four other people still in the theater. Auteurs and culture snobs: beware of Haifa.