November 2007

Hebrew writing and Arabic writing go from east to west,
Latin writing, from west to east.
Languages are like cats:
You must not stroke their hair the wrong way.
The clouds come from the sea, the hot wind from the desert,
The trees bend in the wind,
And stones fly from all four winds,
Into all four winds. They throw stones,
Throw this land, one at the other,
But the land always falls back to the land.
They throw the land, want to get rid of it.
Its stones, its soil, but you can’t get rid of it.
They throw stones, throw stones at me
In 1936, 1938, 1948, 1988,
Semites throw at Semites and anti-Semites at anti-Semites,
Evil men throw and just men throw,
Sinners throw and tempters throw,
Geologists throw and theologists throw,
Archaelogists throw and archhooligans throw,
Kidneys throw stones and gall bladders throw,
Head stones and forehead stones and the heart of a stone,
Stones shaped like a screaming mouth
And stones fitting your eyes
Like a pair of glasses,
The past throws stones at the future,
And all of them fall on the present.
Weeping stones and laughing gravel stones,
Even God in the Bible threw stones,
Even the Urim and Tumim were thrown
And got stuck in the beastplate of justice,
And Herod threw stones and what came out was a Temple.

Oh, the poem of stone sadness
Oh, the poem thrown on the stones
Oh, the poem of thrown stones.
Is there in this land
A stone that was never thrown
And never built and never overturned
And never uncovered and never discovered
And never screamed from a wall and never discarded by the builders
And never closed on top of a grave and never lay under lovers
And never turned into a cornerstone?

Please do not throw any more stones,
You are moving the land,
The holy, whole, open land,
You are moving it to the sea
And the sea doesn’t want it
The sea says, not in me.

Please throw little stones,
Throw snail fossils, throw gravel,
Justice or injustice from the quarries of Migdal Tsedek,
Throw soft stones, throw sweet clods,
Throw limestone, throw clay,
Throw sand of the seashore,
Throw dust of the desert, throw rust,
Throw soil, throw wind,
Throw air, throw nothing
Until your hands are weary
And the war is weary
And even peace will be weary and will be.

Yehuda Amichai, Temporary Poem of my Time

The following are photos from the Lauderdale Confederate-Union Cemetery, located outside a little community a few miles north of Meridian, MS. I have driven past the big brown sign on Highway 45 several times over the past few years, always intending to stop but never having gotten around to it until last weekend. The cemetery was established to inter the bodies of men who died at a nearby hospital- both Confederates and Federals. A few of the graves are marked simply “Unknown.” I can’t think of too many cemeteries where both Confederate and Union dead were buried in the same location, making this little hill-top particularly poignant.



Paul Tibbets piloted the airplane that carried out the world’s first atomic attack, killing some eighty-thousand people, almost all of whom were civilians. His attitude towards the attack is truly disturbing, though it helps to reveal how it is people are able to carry out horrific acts of terrorism under State orders:

I felt nothing about it….I couldn’t worry about the people getting burned up down there on the ground. …This wasn’t anything personal as far as I’m concerned , so I had no personal part in it….It wasn’t my decision to make morally, one way or another…I did what I was told — it was a success as far as I was concerned, and that’s where I’ve left it…I can assure you that I can sleep just as peacefully at night as anybody can sleep….

From On the Death of ‘Hiroshima Bomb’ Pilot Paul Tibbets