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Domestic Dinner

1.
We cook for the party as the radio drones
Reports from Tyre and melancholy patriotic
songs
“The sadder the music, the more dead” we know
From experience. Last year a building collapsed”
Before that was the war and unending lists of
funerals

“I knew the truck was loaded with explosives
When it turned the corner.
We don’t have chevrolets,
Don’t enter the stockade
At that speed.

I fired. Hit
the driver. Kept
Firing, but the truck
Rolled down to the building
Then blew up.”
The guard, staring off,
Lies in bed whispering to the microphone
How he ran out to help the medics
Round up escaping prisoners, warn the others,
Before the noise of the blast invaded him.

He hangs his head
For having failed
to stop the truck
to save sixty lives.

Exuberant:
The suicide driver
Once detained in the stockade
Where thirty one prisoners
Were blown up today.

The smell of onion soup and sound of nervous interviews

Pervade the house.
Before the guests arrive we watch the news
Angry, analytical, helpless—
Neither heroes nor madmen.

2.
“All the time: you think somehow the ones in
charge know
What they’re doing. Then this happens,
And it’s clear they don’t.” Muma shakes her head
“That means any one of us could run this thing
better
Then the generals and the senators.”

she has been sketching the path she would have
made
To ensure safe entrance into the compound.
She seems so logical, so wise
My grey-haired sister in law with shining eyes.

Why isn’t she in charge?
Why aren’t I?

Karen Alkalay-Gut has just published her third book of poetry entitled Mechitza (Cross-Cultural Communications). She lives in Israel and teaches American Literature at Tel Aviv University. She recently completed a biography of Adelaide Crapsey, an American poet who died in 1914. Alkalay-Gut’s first two books of poetry are making Love Poems (Now Publications, Israel) and Butter Sculptures (Kibbutz HaMeuchad).