Apr 272014

I picked up Admiel’s latest, “קטעים אתךָ” (with that very conspicuous qamatz so you wouldn’t be tempted to think he was being heteronormative or anything) while on a recent trip to the homeland, ת”ו. Amusingly, if you look in the inside cover at the publishing information, where Hebrew books’ authors and titles are usually printed in English to help foreign libraries do their cataloging and such, the English title is “You’re Awesome!” I can’t claim to always understand Admiel Kosman’s puckish sense of humor, but along with his capacity for lyrical sensuality and sensitive postmodern spirituality, it’s part of what so endears him to me. Also somewhat amusing is that while the book was put out by his normal publisher, the major Hebrew publishing house Ha-Kibbutz Ha-Me’uḥad, it was funded in part by the national lottery, Mif`al ha-Payis (campaign motto: “You need fortune (payis) in culture.”). This is not entirely surprising given that many of Israel’s schools are funded by and named for the national lottery, but still: what an odd little country we’ve built. Is there something slightly perverse about using the few shekels of the desperate and downtrodden to fund navelgazing poetry? I’m not going to think about it.

I am going to think about, having read this poem, whether Mr. Kosman had seen a certain episode of Sayed Kashua’s hysterical sitcom “Arab Labor,” which made the most lengthily hilarious use of the word “gvuli” since the speakers of proto-West Semitic laid down their first border. I’m going to imagine that he has. In any case, Admiel’s still got it.

Admiel Kosman (1957 – )
I Will Live for Your Sake in a Borderline Place

I will live for your sake in a borderline place,
the most borderline place there can be.

I’ll be hung for your sake
on a note, or the Y
of a graph, on a serif
I’ll hang, on a strip.
An elongated line.

While still me, I’ll be squeezed, breathing hard, and my way
I make clear, for your sake, on the paths of the past. Because
time is so short, my true love, and I need to make haste, while still me,

like a smuggler, sacks,
for your sake, like a thief, like a tout,
to set down, by myself, for your sake,
on the fence made of dust,

of the bounds of my thoughts, when that very same Me, that same Me
that returned, a bright flash, for your sake, within me, like a treasure, a cache,

I again, while still me, elongate,
just for you, elongate,

just for you, elongate

and stretch out, for your sake,
narrow in, on the fringe,

narrow in, for your sake, ‘tween
the paths of the past. For that’s me.

For that’s me. He who goes,
for your sake,

He who goes, for your sake,
with no name, in that place,
the most borderline place there can be.

אדמיאל קוסמן
אחיה בשבילך במקום הגבולי

אֶחְיֶה בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ בַּמָקוֹם הַגְּבוּלִי
בְּיוֹתֵר בָּעוֹלָם שֶׁאֶפְשֶׁר.
אֶתָּלֶה בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ עֲלֵי
תָּו, אוֹ אֲנָךְ, עֲלֵי תָּג,
עֲלֵי פַּס. עֲלֵי קַו מָאֳרָךְ.
וּבְעוֹדִי, אֶדָּחֵס, מִתְנַשֵּׁם, מְפַלֵּס
אֶת דַּרְכִּי, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ, בְּשְׁבִילֵי הֶעָבָר, הֵן
הַזְּמַן כֹּה קָצָר, אֲהוּבָה, וְעָלַי לְמַהֵר, בְּעוֹדִי,
כְּמוֹ מַבְרִיחַ, שַׂקִּים,
בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ, כְּגַנָּב, כְּסַפְסָר,
לְהַנִּיחַ, עַצְמִי, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ,
עַל גֶּדֶר הֶעָפָר,
שֶׁל גְּבוּלוֹת דִּמְיוֹנִי, כְּשֶׁאוֹתוֹ הָאֲנִי, הָאֲנִי
שֶׁחָזַר, מִתְנוֹצֵץ, בְּתוֹכִי, כְּאוֹצָר,
וְשׁוּב, בְּעוֹדִי, מִתְאָרֵך,
עֲבוּרֵךְ, מִתְאָרֵך,
עֲבוּרֵךְ, מִתְאָרֵך
וְנִמְתָּח, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ,
מִתְגַּדֵּר, עַל הַסְּפָר,
מִתְגַּדֵּר, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ, בֵּין
שְׁבִילֵי הֶעָבָר. זֶה אֲנִי.
זֶה אֲנִי. הַהוֹלֵךְ,
הַהוֹלֵךְ, בִּשְׁבִילֵךְ,
אַלְמוֹנִי, בַּמָקוֹם הַגְּבוּלִי
בְּיוֹתֵר בָּעוֹלָם שֶׁאֶפְשֶׁר.


‘Eḥeyéh bishviléikh ba-maqóm ha-gvulí
be-yotéir ba-ʕolám she-‘efshár.

‘Etaléh bishviléikh ʕaléi
tav, ‘o ‘anákh, ʕaléi tag,
ʕaléi pas. ʕaléi qav mo’arákh.

Uv-ʕodí, ‘edaḥéis, mitnashéim, mefaléis
‘et darkí, bishviléikh, bishviléi he-ʕavár. Hein
ha-zmán koh qatzár, ‘ahuváh, ve-ʕalái lemahéir, be-ʕodí,

Kmó mavríaḥ, saqím,
bishviléikh, ke-ganáv, ke-safsár,
lehaníaḥ, ʕatzmí, bishviléikh,
ʕal gedér he-ʕafár,

shel gvulót dimyoní, kshe-‘otó ha-‘aní, ha-‘aní
she-ḥazár, mitnotzéitz, bishviléikh, be-tokhí, ke-‘otzár,

Ve-shúv, be-ʕodí, mit’aréikh,
ʕavuréikh, mit’aréikh,

ʕavuréikh, mit’aréikh

ve-nimtáḥ, bishviléikh,
mitgadéir, ʕal ha-sfár,

mitgadéir, bishviléikh, bein
shviléi he-ʕavár. Zeh ‘aní.

Zeh ‘aní. Ha-holéikh,

Ha-holéikh, bishviléikh,
‘almoní, ba-maqóm ha-gvulí
be-yotéir ba-ʕolám she-‘efshár.

  2 Responses to “Admiel Kosman, “Eḥeyeh Bishvileikh ba-Maqom ha-Gvuli””

  1. This reminds me of “Waiting in Vain”, which is itself something of its own experience, much like this poem.

  2. I wish it had a guitar solo as perfect as the one in “Waiting in Vain.” I wish everything did.

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