top of page

Generations of Guilt

How does he do it?
I asked the page
his words drifting across it
as moving figures on a silent screen


And then I see him
his pencil
cranking the handle
of a rusting motion picture projector

While a new immigrant
not understanding the language
works the translation tape
trying to keep up


This box I keep
its dusty photographs
daily reshuffling into the front row
where people’s heads don’t disturb your view


Shuffling into a kibbutz
on the borders of a war
meat and margarine were rationed
only one pale yellow cube per day
and God forgive me I was so hungry
for meat that I stole a chicken
from the chicken coop but it turned into
a rooster, shouting
as I attempted to slaughter it
its blood spurting on the walls

guilty ever since


The people have lost their morals
today they all steal chickens
and deceiving the income tax
is considered the most minor of crimes
punishable by four years hard labor
in the Knesset


We keep prison cells in our averted eyes
today in between wars where we brush
bombed children under the carpet
and swing chicken around our heads
on the day before Yom Kippur
praying for absolution


But Guilt is wilier than us

he hides in the corner of the album
under a picture of a church
and all our attempts to dislodge him fail


And each year after the Day of Atonement
we laugh, relieved that we have been spared
and bend down like naughty children
and show our bottoms to the camera

To Go Back To
Hit your browser's

© Johnmichael Simon



bottom of page