Cinema: Tel Aviv, 1930

He helped me up
when some Hebraist shtarker
knocked me down in his zeal
to destroy the theatre, for daring
to show a Yiddish talkie.

“Thank you,” I smiled in English;
the young private blushed
as if Good Queen Bess had smirked
he was a fine figure of a courtier.

I smiled again, and walked out
of the theatre, sensing him trying
to decide: whether to continue
his post at the Mograbi,
should the police be further needed,
or to accompany me home.

Part of me wished he’d chosen
the more pleasant duty
of walking through the suddenly
mad streets of Tel Aviv,
but his commanding officer’s
bull horn voice dragged him
back to the theatre.
The only danger: I lost a heel.

You can’t depend on men:
not your own kind, who’ll run
at the first sign of danger;
nor the gallant British: a nation
of gentlemen, or so I was told,
when we studied Shakespeare
in our Polish high school.

Robert Cooperman’s latest collection is REEFER MADNESS (Kelsay Books). GO PLAY OUTSIDE will be out shortly from Apprentice House.