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Arturo Desimone

Eritrean Neighbourhood in South Tel Aviv

(Read a review by O:JA&L Executive Editor Cutter Streeby of Arturo Desimone’s full-length collection Ouafa and Thawra: About a Lover from Tunisia.)

Hellscape 6 by Arturo Desimone

Cracked kingdom music on their satellite radio

as Amharic shop signs warp around, and through Hebrew:

the languages are similar—a niece, a nephew

of realms too distant for comparison.

This is Palestine, or was.

Moses had a second wife from over there

(no divorce, so clearly no complaints)

and all passed through here with

or without permit, with or without

warnings or carriages.

I enter a workers’ restaurant,

five men turn to look,

eyes plummet back into roast meat,

yams at noon warm a man for Mediterranean winter.

And no news about Jerusalem of Iron

clangs on their satellite television:

African news, (and one report

on Barbados, of all ludicrous isolations)

Throngs float on the streets at night

like frigate schools.

A child, armed with crowbar like a musical bow

works surgical wonders on jalopy cars

first whispering to them, caressing frigid doors

(Talking to a door first is a gentler approach.

The door is female) The moon when full

is Levanah in Hebrew, “white’’

Hers is the only cold I welcome.

I abandoned Conrad on a bus

somewhere way back when.

A Sudanese asks me for a flame

but I don’t own a lighter.

He says he owns a club, just over there

with girls. He warns me of liars

among the Eritreans.

He recounts his travels:

beatings he received and gave in Mali

in Camerun and in Libya.

He tells me of the travels of his fists,

that Eritreans in Israel envy him, and are not African,

That Sudan is the Mother and the Father

and he, the Son.

He tells me of the thoughts grasped by his famous fists.

Travel is fatal to prejudice.

There is a philosophy of fire

to be grasped somewhere, made by the rounds

of wandering fists, undone by rotating hips.

Maybe he punched Conrad in his lips

or Marlowe somewhere along the way

or asked them if they wanted

to take their picture with him

for the postcards of lies

before the bus to Sudan al-Fransawi.


About the writer:
Arturo Desimone is an Aruban-Argentinean writer and visual artist. His articles, poetry and fiction pieces previously appeared in Berfrois, Mediterranean Poetry, Nueva York Poetry Review,  Island (Tasmania), the Drunken Boat,  Anomaly and in the poetry collection Mare Nostrum/Costa Nostra (Hesterglock 2019) and La Amada de Túnez (Clara Beter Ediciones) a bilingual edition of his poems and drawings was published last year in Argentina. He has collaborated as a translator on the book Land of Mild Light, a translation of poems by Venezuelan poet Rafael Cadenas, released by Arrowsmith Press during the pandemic. This poem is included in Desimone’s new pamphlet of poems Poem scrawled on a maize-sheaf for her(last offering) available now as a free PDF from O:JA&L’s Buttonhook Press.

Image: Hellscape 6 by Arturo Desimone. Mixed media on paper. No size specified. By 2021. By permission.


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