First Edition: Stewart Florsheim collection

Tel Aviv Promenade

by stewart florsheim

This afternoon

knows little about war—

the promenade full of children

riding tricycles,

jugglers surrounded

by young crowds,

parents smiling

behind their cameras.

Moshe says

we’re only worried

about the borders,

this city is safe.

Nearby, a young clown

with one leg

blows up balloons.

A girl chooses

Mickey Mouse:

her quiet Toda.




I say Kaddish for my parents

at the Wailing Wall

and then find two stones

to take home

and place on their graves.

On the flight home

the pilot announces

we’ll stop on Cyprus to refuel:

the gas at Ben Gurion

might be contaminated with explosives.

I miss all my connections.

The journey of two stones

could have been so simple. 




In the Old City, a guide tells his group

it’s safe to walk around, all the quarters

monitored by surveillance cameras.

I look up and see a steel gray lens

lilting back and forth,

an eye trying to anchor in time:

A man in a black hat and coat

crosses the road in front of a car

reading from his prayer book.

He mumbles in Hebrew

and then his voice begins to tremble—

a yud shimmers

like a butterfly stopped in mid-air.

Alongside him a man in a djellaba

hears the muezzin’s cries

and breaks into a run,

his urgent Allah ak-bar, Allah ak-bar

parting the crowd.

We go back to our apartment,

walls made of Jerusalem stone.

I stare at one piece until I see a face emerge —

a lion resting, merely resting.

Stewart Florsheim was born in New York, the son of refugees from Hitler’s Germany. He has been widely published in magazines and anthologies, and has received several awards for his poetry. Stewart lives in Piedmont with his wife, two daughters, and their dog, Roxie.