From the River, a poem

Jordan River, 1934, American Colony (Jerusalem), Library of Congress



From the River




Listen to the Muezzin,

Eretz Yisrael.

O Falastin لسطين

The children wail.


If I forget Thee

O Yerushalayim.

Eli, Eli.

Mayim Mayim.


Adonai elohainu.

Al Aqsa Flood.


Adonai echad.


Walking on the sea,

Walking on the sand.

Falastina, Sadducee,

Expelled from our land.





The river is wide,

Covered by silk.

On the other side:

Honey and milk.


Rishrush shel hamayim.


Berak hashamayim.

Shelo yigamer le’olam.


The river is wide, the river is deep.

My grandfather’s grandfather

Tended these sheep.

Ibrahim, forefather,


Lies in his grave,

In the Patriarchs Tomb,

Machpelah Cave,

Beneath an Iron Dome.





From the river to the sea:

Two states, one state.

242, Area B,

181, 338.

Our state, no state:

A and C.

We pray, prostrate

By the Galilee.


Keffiyeh, tallit.

Mark, Judas, Paul.

Our home is bayt, bayit.

Our food kashrut, halal.


Walking through Damascus gate

To the Holy Sepulcher.

Jaffa gate, Lion’s gate.

Shepherd, butcher.






Zion gate, self-defense.

Hero’s gate, a checkered shawl.

Apartheid fence,

A separation wall.


Jerusalem syndrome:

Even walls wail:

This is our home!

Halal, Hallel!


Manna, the food

Of exile, pain.

Lion of Judah.

Mark of Cain.


Hamas, Balfour:

Prophesies true.

Kill them first, or

They’ll come for you.







Vengeful curse

Of the bayonet.


We are indigenous!

Only G-d is One,




Al chet

shechatanu lifenecha.

The Holy Al-Quds.

An laa ilaaha illallaah.


Rishrush shel hamayim.

Wa ash-hadu anna.

Berak hashamayim.






Read the Quran, Numbers next,

The Protocols of Zion,

And the Covenant text.

Hear the Muezzin, the Lion


Calling for expulsion:


A final ululation,

From the river to the sea:



Funded by Qatar.

A second, final Nakba

Into Egypt, or the water.


A crown of thorns

On every head.

The blast of rams horns

To redeem the dead.





River of bones,

Al-Aqsa Flood.

Under the stones:

Tunnels and blood.


Fires and floods

As the prophets told:

To redeem Al-Quds,

To sanctify the land.


Martyrs are brave.

An old house key.

Another grave.

Another sea.


Sea of Red,

Sea of Reeds.

Sea of Dead.





Sister help to trim the sail.

Ve-yitromam, ve-yitnasei.

You anoint my head with oil.

Facing east, we pray.


Facing Mecca, five times before bed.

Our last seder together:

My body’s the bread.

We must care for each other.



Adonai olam.

Akbar Allahu.

Tefilat ha’adam.


Under the rubble,

Holding our daughter.

G-d’s gonna trouble

The water.



Jonathan D. Greenberg