Yolki Blues, a poem by Janet Buck.

For Elisha Porat.

I am the yolki flower, the shade of an egg.
I arrive in a burst, albumen and sack,
after first treasure of rain.
I promise you things.
Your soil is deaf to my voice,
a signal of centering force.
I am Israel's daffodil, a trumpet the poets
have bellowed through dust.
You are the frost with your habits and hands
holding a gun to temples of peace.

I shimmy with sunlight and birth.
Yet, darkness is all I'm coming to know.
Why are you plodding on trails
of a tomb in the guise and the guess
of slicing an earth meant to be shared.
Insisting on fences and walls kilometers long.
Old battles and shrapnel are eating my leaves.
In other wars, no stones, no wires
were enough to contain a rampage of terror.

A pendulum swings, cracking the clock.
This flavor of hate shrivels my flesh.
Piranhas are grabbing whatever moves.
Our quibbles are ancient sheep
gnawing the throat of an innocent lamb.
It didn't work for Berlin,
where the Dipper shoveled a grave
and Pleiades became a fixture
of glory removed in bullets exchanged --
where shadows grew sharp,
sticky with blood,
in palettes of crippling swastikas.

Janet Buck's poem alludes to "Yolki Flowers at Tel Hazika." Tel Hazika is the name of a basalt hill on the Golan Heights, where Porat's battalion had a bloody battle against the Syrian army in 1973. Yolki is the Hebrew name of a yellow flower that blooms in autumn in Northern Israel, after the first rains. The poem was translated from the Hebrew by the author and Ward Kelley.


Yolki Flowers at Tel Hazika, by Elisha Porat.

That autumn, when their time came,
The Yolki flowers bloomed on Tel Hazika.
On the rocks, among shredded helmets,
Dark yellow patches suddenly blossomed,
Blinding yellows, as if they warned:
You can never forget us,
We will never give you rest;
You will always, every autumn, wonder
From where came this yellow yolki color? From where
Came this egg-yolk color? And where is the swallowed
Rock, that turned to red, submerged,
Soured from forgotten blood?

Janet Buck is a three-time Pushcart Nominee and the author of four collections of poetry. Her work has recently appeared in Three Candles, PoetryBay, Red River Review, Artemis, The Pedestal Magazine, Gertrude, Southern Ocean Review, CrossConnect, Offcourse, The American Muse, and hundreds of journals world-wide. Recent awards include Sol Magazine's 2001 Poem of the Year, The 2001 Kota Press Anthology Prize, The Thunder Rain Award, and first place in Kimera's Poetry Contest 2001.


To Of(f)course home page

To Index of this issue.