Sam Litvin

Tel Aviv  Is

Wolt bikes on their way with pick-up

To homes with weed and rolled cigarettes.

Girls in tight clothes with tossed hair

Men with think black beards 

And unshaven faces.

It is sounds of a ball

Hitting mattock paddles on the beach

And surfers riding waves in Jaffa

To the sound of the call to prayer. 

It is mangal and shisha on the beach

Of Arab family picnic.

A scandalous gay pride parade 

Of men in tiny speedo

And scandalous everyday 

fat Russian men

In same exact speedo.

It is women who feign apathy

As men cannot a single one go by

Without whistle or an invitation.

It is dogs barking at each other on a leash

From opposite sides of the street.

It is cats colliding on their midnight feeder

And lazily looking at you

From a roof car or a scooter seat.

It is couples sharing electric scooters

Riding breakneck through the city.

It is chased down by e-bikes

On a bus, packed, and rattled

By cracked and damaged streets.

It is couples on the beach

And men and women in bars locking lips

After having barely met.

It is tank tops and backless shirts

Running shoes, Blundstones and Havaiana’s

It is winter vacation ski trip in the alps

And summer trips to Greece. 

It is Goldstar beer

Pizza, malabi, humus and sabich.

A midnight shawarma or hot dog.

It is expensive hetzi and free chasers.

It is war all around

That no one seems to feel,

But always talks about.

It is quiet German tourists

And American and French

Competing for who can be most loud.

It is colored hair, bald heads

And fanny packs across the chest.

It is soldiers in tight-fitting pants and sandals

It is hot summer days with rain 

Pouring from air conditioners.

It is the scented mix of rolled cigarettes

Weed, human piss and dog shit

And trash ripped open by street cats.

It is grey hooded crows 

chasing yellow eyed mynas.

And fruit bats gliding through the midnight air.

It is the expansive beach

And hundred year old buildings; 

Some restored, some crumbling,

Permeated by skyscrapers and developments.

It is high tech playboys, tattooed waiters and musicians. 

It is black boys and girls on buses

With their backs straight and heads held high.

It is pierced noses and weekly protests.

It is the sound of all-night Purim street parties 

The silence of yom kipur

And the stillness of yom itzkor.

It is impatient men

And sweet older women.

It is children without limits

It is “rega nag” of old men who chase buses.

It is motorcycles and Jaffa drivers,

Driving at breakneck speed

It is a fearless army nation

In eternal fear of every person

In a scarf.

About the Author
Sam Livin was born in Soviet Union and grew up in San Diego. In 2012, he travelled the world photographing Jewish communities publishing a book called "Your Story Our Sipur." Today he continues to write about Israel and Judaism as he lives and studies business and ecology in Tel Aviv.
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