Yerushalmi by Simon Constam

by Simon Constam

Today I seem to have the face of a man I briefly stared at,
on a bus on Rehov King David in the fall of 1969.

I wear the same clothes, dark jacket, dark shirt,
rough tan trousers, dust-scuffed brown boots.
The mirror shows me, grizzled, unkempt, 
stocky, stoic, almost seventy. 

My face is the face my grandfather wore. 
My parents, aunts, and uncles swore the resemblance 
is uncanny. My history is clear. 

I was one of Titus’ captives 
marched through Rome in chains. 
I collected all my things in a sack 
to flee from Ferdinand and Isabella
along the Jew-choked roads. 
I missed my fate in Kielce and Bialystock.
I hid in the forests by Kishinev.

I was a soldier in Babel’s army caught
in the gaze of my Cossack captor. 
Once, I was dazzled by Jabotinsky. I walked
for days to hear him dream. I trusted history. 
And then I spent the war in, and somehow outlasted 
Bergen Belsen, 
I fled to all the countries of the world.
My children are scattered to the far corners of the earth.
And now my son has come to visit me.
He worries that I stay here. 
He thinks I ought to live close to him.
But that is impossible. 
I am the inheritor of a furious history
that only in this place 
can I never 
deny or forget.

Hear Simon Constam recite the poem on the Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast:

Submit your polished poetry for the opportunity of being published on and being interviewed on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast.

Simon Constam is a Toronto poet and aphorist. His first book of poetry, BROUGHT DOWN, was published in January 2022, by Wipf and Stock Publishers. He has published poetry in a number of magazines among them The Jewish Literary Journal, long con magazine, the Dark Poets Club, and Poetica Magazine. Since late 2018, he has been publishing, under the moniker Daily Ferocity (@dailyferocity), a new, original aphorism every day on Instagram and for an email subscriber base. .

Up ↑