Ruth Blumert lives in Jerusalem. She has published a novel, HaTsariach (The Tower, 1984); a collection of short stories, HaMalach (The Angel, 1984), a collection of poems, Golim ‘al Kochav Zar (Exiles on a Strange Planet, 1991), and a rhymed translation of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (2001), as well as two children’s books, Zehirut, Mag’a Zahav (Caution! Golden Touch!, 1987) and Ta’alumat HaOtsar be-Mikhrot HaI Ha’Agol (The Mystery of the Treasure in the Mines of the Circular Island, 1996). She is a former editor of BAMAH, a magazine devoted to theater. Many of her poems in the original Hebrew can be viewed at The poems below appeared in The Neovictorian/Cochlea and The Deronda Review, and were translated by Esther Cameron. 


[untitled] ("I pray you, gather my souls")      The Rivers      The Last Song      Light      [untitled] ("We are waiting for something to happen")      For the Choirmaster, on the Death of a Father      [untitled] ("The Printer is slowly printing out....")      Hybrid      Proportions      The Refusal      Those Put To Death    Season of Transition       Spring Wind      Untitled ["Let it rain"]       Av 5765      The Reader of Coffee Grounds   




I pray you, gather my souls like windfallen figs

before the sated herd comes back from the pastures;

cut them open one by one, watch for the worm:

it will guide you to the sweetest, to the choicest,

to my most eaten soul.

Cattle and birds and low-lying air

will break the others down, return them to the soil.







The rivers that made our land fertile

from which we greedily slaked our thirst after toil

have sunk, like us, into the earth, moistening,

at most, our bones.

The wind that led us to stray in a land without seed

and also diverted the waters into our footprints

goes on galloping through the sandy deserts

and we with the remnant of our strength following the wind

farther and farther

into the desert with the waters

following us as aforesaid,

yet with a certain respect, a kind of appreciation,

they carved paths in the rock, in the sands,

drew the map of their temporary being,

and we in the wind unwearyingly were thrown

to all the winds and spirits and out-

side the world and nature not even

an eyelash did the wind bat that flew

over our skeleton dissolving in the waters of the deep








When the time comes and the sign is given and you realize

that only you are chosen to understand and behold

its meaning

and you flee from the ark and land on a branch of bitter olive

that breaks under your weighty message, the weight of your breakdown,

and your compassion carries it to the four corners of the earth

in mad centrifugal flight


you jump from the ship or ask to be thrown to the waves

to save the sailors bound

for Tarshish

no prettified picture by Picasso

can capture the greatness of the terror

and the convulsion

in the cold belly of the fish

and before

and after.


P.S.  And the sons of the prophets, sign salesmen fattened on ascetic delights,

        will crash their plane into the Utopian Islands

        and submarines will explode the cliffs

        of Ararat.







This message was honed by the beam of a laser scalpel:

No one shall write of this city

its gates have sunk down

its warfare is accomplished in puddles


don’t be glum

intangible, inconceivable,

stay as you are

gaze down from your post as the traditional

Platonic reflection

of the impossible that might have been

had it not been for your body

so patiently sprawled on the mountains

not in the earthquake

and why not in the earthquake

not by might

and why not by might

so, intangible, unenvisioned,

knowing that every right hand that withered

and each left hand that sanctified

missed the point.

Gaze on Utopias through the heavenly window

perhaps pitying, perhaps loving

those who err

understanding that the atrophied vigil is in vail

that you have become accustomed

to not being.







Suddenly the world will become illumined. It must,

in spite of the sun and moon so busy keeping watch,

and I will laugh at its dismay

and my smile

will blare out the forgotten song.

Verily I say unto you


the light is in me

and truth and love


it’s hard to believe


in ruth


this is an almost



but the light that will break forth from behind the blockade

of sun and stars

and that perhaps will vanish at the first

shadow of doubt

is as real as the sun

and more brightly blazing

the ash of my body will testify to something

or will disappear


I will understand.


In the genes of the universe I am the soul

plagued by mutations and obstacles

a problem for itself

but the soul is used to reality.

Only the soul’s love is of the hidden source

in a sphere beyond understanding

perhaps from beyond the kingdom

which no ancient city and no orient surmised

and abides in the shadow of its noble reflection.

I’ll be diagnosed as a megalomaniac

as one who has lost touch with reality

because of the truth and love that is in me.

I am sick with illuminations


I don’t know to what extent it is harmful

How shall I stand it

When will the world become illumined

become illumined

as it must.







We are waiting for something to happen

Not for the Messiah nor the barbarians

They’re both here already

Perhaps the aliens will be kind to us

in their manner

their red-green


their feely antennas

sensitive to the desires of the heart.


We’ve had lots of visitors

angels and prophets and vexers of spirit

conquering nations

juggling with human skulls

as with the terrestrial ball

that keeps getting kicked from place to place

through unknown cataclysms.


Obviously there’s a reason

a purpose

a plan

but it’s complicated

and unconcerned with details








Perhaps it is possible to walk on water and rocks and coarse sand

           squeaking grains

Among remains of fishes, broken shards and trash

In the sun shining on a multitude of intents and directions.

Miriam’s well is stopped up, hidden,

And the Wells of Salvation is the name of a hospital.

My father died as I was singing to him "And with my soul my body

            too" in the Gates of Righteousness

Which had opened for him avidly.

Winter clouds moved windlessly aside.

Lamentation and bitter weeping silenced by shots and shells.

The sun illuminates intents and directions. On the shores of the world

             they bake cakes for the Queen of Heaven,

Pondering about the spirit of sacrifice that has passed from the others

              and the ideas that crashed.

How shall we sing. While the Spirit is scratched and is fainting.

On the willows within it we hung our harps.

So dreaming about nirvana like the lowest of the untouchables, on sands

White like suntanned crabs sipping something cold, expensive.

One more melody remained. A pity.

You who seek to walk on water, straight or round about, acquire thick-

              soled sandals,

Lake Ginossar has surprises. Stones also grow between the hulks of

              ancient ships and fish skeletons.

Drink the Waters of Eden against the heat. Mutter something about the

              world that was ruined

And be sure the art students document that.

An original subject rooted in the sources is exposed, sad, and catchy.

Go with the film to a festival

The prize will get you a spot on the edge of some Olympus so you can

              devote yourself to your own existence.

Rather than to working miracles.

Of course you’ll still be concerned about the fate of the Earth and the

              country and the Sea of Galilee and the well of Miriam as well as

About the extermination of lice and mutants of positive Ebola.


Hear O Israel. My heart exults over the perfection of the death of my

             father in the Gates of Justice

His feet wore paths without calculation

With what gentleness he taught me to wash my hands stretched out

             over the high sink

With cold water with a vessel made from a tin can that had not yet rusted.

Hand in hand we walked through the dim and crowded alleyway on a

             hot summer day, he sipping tamarind juice with evident pleasure,

I skipped beside him and my new sandals got into some donkey’s dung.

We got to the steep wall growing bushes in the chinks between the stones

Then I did not know what he was doing in the soft silence and why we

             did not return.

And there was the tune "Abraham rejoices Isaac sings Jacob and his sons

             shall rest upon it" and after that the stars burst in the sky

And there was Havdalah.

And how did he identify the red lines before they were exposed with


Amen I say to you. Spring up, O well!

Sing about it.







The printer is slowly printing out the poem I wrote,

The paper high quality, bright white,

Clear the letters.

Was my meaning clear

Or was it some craziness bound up with bother –

Hookup of appliances that are dark to me

Obedient to writing that is dark to them.

There's beauty in that. Even a mysterious pleasure.

Something responds to my dwindling caprices

If I just send it energy.








The plastic flowers my granddaughter brought from

kindergarten –

The red rose and the yellow rose –

I stuck them mischievously in the cracked flowerpot

Where they still bloom in the shadow of a stubborn plant.

Upon both drop the dews

Of the same providence

Sprinkling the petals of both

Which fade at different rates,

Inanimate and vegetable.

The glasses on my nose –

I’ve changed how many frames and prescriptions? –

Are part of my face.

And the scratched lenses, that steam up

Like my eyes, tired from the struggle

With their heavy lids.







Getting up too early to live

too late for daydreams

I’d cry Help!

But the rescue workers are busy

with earthquakes and leaking reactors,

tremendous things.


I restrain myself.







Again his face is turned to the wall

Refusing to recognize

The last doctor who has arrived.


The house like a crypt in midday

And he howled when they revived him suddenly

From his recurring dream, in the garden

In the shadow of another tree.


In the windowless room, by the flickering candle

They placed a feather to spy on his breathing

Which he stopped,

Precipitately ignoring them.

The family hopes for a miracle worthy of notice

In some evangelium.







We practice on the deaths of others –

kin, distant kin, and so forth –

to know what will be done to us

and what is half the kingdom

and  whose hand will clench

upon our soul

struggling to free itself

dying to remain

in the light –


the hidden is a temptation

one who longs and for whom we long


thus it is decreed in My thought







I put on white clothes

innocent of grease spots                                                                                                 

pure as the polar snow.

Now I am wrapped and enveloped

by my two green leaves:

the cradle and the wedding canopy.


One day a butterfly

will break forth from its shrouds

and fly away.







I am exhausted from following the movements of the branches in the wind:

they move with a desperate alacrity,

dust whirling round them.


In the glass of hot tea, green mint gyrates

at the touch of a silver spoon.

It will grow cold and drift to the bottom, weary and ragged.


I cover myself with clothing,

turn on all the space heaters –

the cold inside me is still wins.







Let it rain. Bring down the rain. Get everything wet.

Including the washing on the line. That is,

Turn all that is clean and dry

Into a spongy miserable cold dark mass

Like me.





AV 5765


The events of the month of Av took place

In the blazing clarity

Of August.

And there was no comforter –


Aside from words

Which sound hollow even in the dark

And there is no comforter –


We need a month of Em.


[Note:  “Av,” the name of the month, also means “father – “em” is “mother.)




The first day of the week.

I thought there was no chance

But I phoned my daughter.

And she answered:

Moshe is waiting in the car.


That was apparently the last phone call to Atsmonah –

Short and to the point.

Perhaps she was crying.

I was.







The reader of coffee grounds turned the cup over.

There were no grounds at all.

Transparent, occluded secrets laughed silently.


But the cup twitched in the disappointed hand

Like a body

Like a dimmed crystal ball

Whose core hints:

The future is hidden


The waters of purification sink into the dust.