Rodger Kamenetz

Jerusalem Bus

I remember the morning more than a decade ago when I woke up to the horrific news of a bus bombing in Jerusalem in which 23 people were killed including seven children. I wrote the following poem and included the date August 19, 2003.


So much darkness allows the bandages to be undone without being seen

allows the wound to smoke in the open air, allows the wheels of the bus

to touch the ruptured road, allows the tires to burn into the sky

allows the smells to penetrate, the smell of burnt hair, the smell of blood

the smell of tongues moist inside closed mouths, the smell of it all.

So much darkness and none of it has any light, there’s no life in the dark

there are no stars in the imagined sky, the town is dark, the deaths

have used up the air, there is nothing but the nothing.

My accident is your opportunity said the death to the life

and life did not answer, life was mute as a scar.

Did anyone turn towards the sun and pray?

He would be stolen by the next breath.

Did a baby actually lay there with his eye to the ground?

Did his mother who had held him in his lap

leave a tear near the milk? These questions are cruel.

Tomorrow will be another day entirely but this day will always be burnt:

August 19, 2003.

Hearing the news of yesterday’s bus bombing in Jerusalem, I feel very sorry this poem is still relevant 13 years later. The illustration by the artist Michael Hafftka captures for me the feelings of that day, and of this one as well.

Jerusalem Bus drawing by Michael Hafftka
Jerusalem Bus drawing by Michael Hafftka
About the Author
Rodger Kamenetz is the author of The Jew in the Lotus, an international bestseller now in its 36th printing. His other books include Burnt Books, The History of Last Night's Dream, The Lowercase Jew and To Die Next To You. Professor Emeritus Louisiana State University, he sees clients using dreams for spiritual direction.
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