Poems by Iris Eliyah Cohen

Translated from the Hebrew by Yardenne Greenspan

Black List

I behold him
suddenly before me
his face black, his skin’s ivory
black and his thinning hair
black his brows black
and his pupils I behold him
the sparks of his mustache black
onto black his voice wraps
dark humor
how we laughed
on Saturday nights
his hand black inside
the cauldron of rice
that he collected into his mouth
with his fingertips
black ripping into the crumb of
the black bread which
he ate and dipped into

Black days
flooded me when he passed away
my father
suddenly he is revealed to me
I behold him
dark black
bright as day.

Iris Eliyah Cohen - blacklist-page-001





“My mother/her children didn’t live/my mother” (Erez Biton)


And that day was Thursday, twice as
bad. He washed his face
shaved, went out
to the center and returned when he remembered
he’d forgotten the lottery stub
in the medicine drawer
(“Luck never came to him,”
said the neighbor).


After he took
ten milligrams of aspirin
to lower hypertension
and old age
he went out again. This time to the market.
He returned to the rented
apartment with baskets
in his hands climbed up
two three steps
not far from the door
he stopped
a step away from himself
and fell
in the stairwell
and ceased


My father, luck never came to him
my father

Iris Eliyah Cohen - luck-heb-page-001


Iris Eliyah Cohen - headshotIris Eliyah Cohen is a fiction writer and poet. Her first novel, Maktub, won the Minister of Culture Award and the Ramat Gan Literature Award. Her second novel Dushinka, Neshama was nominated for the Sapir Prize.




Photo: Michelle Tong

Photo: Michelle Tong

Yardenne Greenspan is a writer and Hebrew translator. She has an MFA from Columbia University. In 2013 she was featured in World Literature Today’s list of notable translations. Her translations include work by Etgar Keret and Alex Epstein, and her work has been published in The New Yorker and Haaretz, among other places.




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