Mordechai GELDMAN (Israel)

 
Mordechai GELDMAN (Israel)
 
Mordechai Geldman was born in Munich to Polish parents who had survived the Holocaust. His family immigrated to Israel in 1949 and settled in Tel Aviv, where he has lived ever since. Geldman studied World Literature and Clinical Psychology and works as a psychotherapist using psychoanalytical methods.
 
Geldman, has begun publishing poetry in 1966. His poetry is philosophical, psychological, and existential. It combines literary Hebrew and everyday language, even some slang. His later poetry tends to be meditative and includes many haiku. He was influenced by Zen Buddhist esthetics and philosophy. His poetry sings with many voices – lyrical, philosophical, sensual, erotic, religious, ironic and others. A sober mind integrates all these aspects of his personality.
 
He has published 18 poetry books, a book of short stories and 6 non-fiction books. A two volume collection of poems from his books was published in 2011. His last poetry book is the third volume of the collection of his poetry written till 2019 His poems were translated into many languages: Chinese and Japanese included. His book “Becoming One” was translated to Portuguese (“Teoria Do Um”) and published in Portugal on 2017. A large collection of his poems in English “Years I Walked at Your Side” was published on 2018 in Suny Press, State University of N.Y.
 
His non-fiction books deal with subjects as the self in psychoanalytic theories and in Yoga and Buddhism, psychoanalytic interpretation of literature, doubles and symmetries in Shakespeare’s plays, his favorite Israeli poets and artists, etc.
 
As a visual artist Geldman is engaged in painting, ceramics and photography. Geldman was an art critic for the Israeli daily Haaretz, and curated exhibitions for many Israeli artists.
 
Awards: the Prime Minister Prize; the Brenner Prize for literature; the Amichai Prize; the Bialik Prize for Literature.
 
 
THE CAFÉ
 
I walked to the sea again –
I left home where I was locked down
fearing the plague
whose creator is unseen as a demonic god
but I was not infected
I was as pure as a Tibetan hermit
 
the sea was full and empty
and I was full and empty
the plague enabled us to merge
without other nomads present
or couples clinging to their hug
no one was seen till the limits of sight
a deep loneliness aroused dark waves
and we were starry as a galaxy
there both of us were swept away
by the magnets of gravitation
and we stayed in the dark hole of truth
and didn’t worry at all
 
a tune of a Ney flute
that the wind carried from a distance
from the lips of an hallucinated flutist
aroused great longings
for the smell of coffee
in the cafe where I wrote many poems
 
 
 
A SMALL JACKAL
 
On the river’s bench
a small jackal stopped to look at me
wanted that I’ll look at him
to know his hardship
he was very hungry
probably infected with rabid
and I unconsciously
innocently like green grass
wanted him to look at me
and see that my life too
is not easy at all
thou I was still not infected
with the pandemic plague
that is destroying our world
and killing and killing
 
We looked at each other
but he didn’t howl
and I restrained my sobbing
the universe was too big for both of us
but for a short moment
we promised each other something
that we will never fulfill
and everything was enormously clear
like the azure sky that was our roof
 
 
 
I COULDN’T FALL ASLEEP
 
I couldn’t fall asleep
and was called to the sea
as by a powerful magnet
 
I took a taxi and went to the high cliff
that looks silently
upon the waves
 
The moon floated in front of me
divided, reddish and glowing
mysterious as usual, insinuating
 
Remember the magic he whispered
remember beauty he whispered
remember the cycle of birth and death
 
It was nice of him –
at a night when death already hypnotized
he called me for a conversation
on the shore of the indigo sea
and recommended somnambulism
 
 
 
POEMS
 
a small pebble
a peephole to galactic infinity
a heart waiting for transplantation
a Jasmine bush in a spring night
a skull full with emptiness
the howling of abandoned dogs
a raku cup for a tea ceremony
a note in a green bottle
an eye without eyelids
sparrows chirping under the table
a parable resisting interpretation
the look of Orpheus backwards
the darkness covering the sea
a love letter to your soul
a written confirmation of my being
an epitaph
and on and on
 
 
 
GOOCHA RESTAURANT AGAIN
 
I ordered wrongly again
and got a dish of dry salmon fillet
on a bed of mashed potatoes with mustard
a tasteless fish amidst a yellowish swamp
because of my penchant to repeat mistakes
in a restaurant where everybody celebrates
my mind turned murky and nervous
I ate my stupidity
 
But unknowingly came to my aid
a wise diner from the adjacent table
whom his Ukraine chick
had already bored
After I reported that I hadn’t been to Ukraine
and didn’t hang out with whores
he apologized and asked
what my favorite place in the whole world was
I liked his question that distanced me from the restaurant
– For a moment I was in Venice and for a moment in Rome
and I spoke about my love for art
“Who is your favorite painter?” he asked mercifully
“Rembrandt”, I replied, and tears filled my eyes
visualizing The Jewish Bride
and the self-portraits of his old age
I was too stormy that evening
 
But suddenly – another presence of grace –
five Italian boys came to sit at the next table
and together gobbled a bowl of mussels
Another joy arose in my heart
for a moment everything was life and beauty and youth
that will blossom when I am absent
 
 
 
THE ARRIVAL
 
The flight was delayed
the baggage was slow to arrive
the bus to Venice almost clocked up midnight
and the vaporetto’s schedule
reached night shifts
 
I sailed as a thief, without a ticket,
to San Marco station
but the boat stopped at Rialto
and turned backwards in shivering waters
There a woman in the nightly light suggested
“go strait, strait forward”.
 
I dragged a trolley to San Marco
in a labyrinth of canals and bridges
the city was empty and hollow
even the royal piazza was muted
all orchestras and tourists vanished
 
The summer night was utterly my soul’s
it leaped among countless stars and Laguna lights
forgetting the agony of loneliness
 
Two angels and a cop
guided me to my hotel:
Casa Nova’ – a new house –
is it time for a new house
to be re-erected in my soul
 
 
 
VENICE 2019
 
This year I gave up poems
I gave up the solitude that creates them
I preferred friendship with an accidental guy –
a young German,
an expert in literature and religions,
named Augustinus
We discussed the grand exhibitions
contemporary art in the Biennale
the link between Christianity and Judaism
the Mount of Beatitudes
crimes of Nazis and crimes of Jews in Zion
and our life and our ruin
 
We felt close, almost doubles
and I was supposed to be his guardian if he fainted
because of diabetes B,
against which he injected insulin
after measuring blood sugar
that demanded more puncturing
my friend was as perforated as a sifter
like Christ in Memling’s crucifixion paintings
 
But on the new bridge for pedestrians
between San Marco and the Arsenale
aroused in my inner eyes
an utterly secretive poem –
amongst the mob crowded on the bridge
stepped a figure made of blinding lights
whose face was hidden in light
 
My friend was not so enlightened
And I myself am far from plenitudes of dazzling lights
It was perhaps the soul of Monteverdi
that composed magnificent music like a rainbow on waters
or was it a call for the body’s death
to move naked towards supreme splendor
 
The poem is vibrating questions of light
to which every star on the nightly lagoon
is one of their answers
a pillar of crystal vases in the summer sun
that melts our universe
 

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