Jessica Levine Kupferberg

Red, alert

It was a long night in Israel:

The muezzin this night

more battle cry

than lullaby,

Teens’ songs turn to stale breath

when rushing to doorways and dank garages

near the hora-thronged shuk,

Young heads covered by shaking hands, hearts knocking.


Jerusalem cries after her party

and wonders how she can clean up this mess alone,

streets littered with flags and fear,

old hunger and hate and miracles.


Here, our safe spaces don’t protect against words

or cradle feelings;

They are thick-walled with crushing metal doors

and windows that



(floors scuffed with panic’s footprints and

shelves filled with card-decks and coloring books,

bottled water shoved next to weariness and resolve)

And there are not enough.


Boom for the bride and groom — earth shaking

by lush vineyards still in shock

from the surprise missile landing;


Barrages of booms for the sea-side sabras

playing sheshbesh on the faded Ashkelon boardwalk,

matches gone aflame;


Boom Flash Crash

for Sufa’s tired farmers, hands calloused and bronzed,

and Sderot’s school children,  just finally back to school,

half-hearted masks round small stiff necks;

Now they can smell

the scent of summer mixed with Here We Go Again.


Nearby, the kalaniot of Shokeda were slumbering,

Lush poppy forest carpet

huddled under mottled drying earth

— startled awake mid dream;

Petal-ears covered tightly to protect again the booms

fetal curled into their cores, black velour

Red, Alert—

|Hoping to return to their dreaming

of the spring festivals where they were glad to be

crushed again by picnic baskets and

and lovers’ feet

after too many lonely bird chirps and bored cricket yawns

when everyone was away.



Not sorry

if we don’t die enough to make you feel good,

like the fight was fair;

I don’t think you really want to talk about what’s fair

when it comes to us

and your slanted news

and your libels and pogroms and omissions

over the scroll of history—

My grandmother could tell you, but she’s not here;

I memorized her arm-etched number

— the one so like my expired driver’s license number

from the place where rockets

were only a thrill ride

or an exhibit

at a science museum.

About the Author
Jessica Levine Kupferberg is a writer and former litigation attorney. She made aliyah from La Jolla, California with her family during Operation Protective Edge in July 2014 after driving across America. She blogs for the Times of Israel and her work has appeared in the Jerusalem Post,, The Jewish Journal, The Forward, Jweekly, and as part of Project 929 English, and as part of anthologies about aliyah and Covid-19.
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