a magazine of texts and visuals

Claire Hamburger


The Gynaecologist of Gaza


A strip of land or a strip of leather

beaten, softened, made pliable.

Hammer and batter with the sharpest nails,

shape into deep longevity and grief.

A strip of semen and a fertile egg,

in an instant, miracle or void.


Strip of my daughter’s brain, my niece’s leg,

 strip of light, strip light, stripped naked.

A blinding flash in a young girl’s room

where sisters whisper and giggle,

 their futures stripped by Israeli fire.

No remorse, no apologies, only a room

bloody with dismembered girls.


You bury a shoe in a landfill site.

You bury a family under a house.

I fertilise your human child.

You make a pile of children’s shoes,

block your eyes before you pull the trigger.

Whose shoes are whose? Can you remember?


But your land is ours, the olive trees,

lemons held in an outstretched hand,

and  squeezed. Drip, drip, the bloody flow

Of memories and babies’ shoes,

Of mingled blood and history.

A promised land or a landfill site

where stories are buried deep.


I have crossed your border and your fence.

Check point. Checkmate. On either side

I bring life into the world and wait

 for my few surviving daughters

 to conquer this dismembered world,

to turn a war, a siege, into a human life

re-build and shape it with a sculptor’s knife.





Bridge, water, uneasy sky

Arc over, arc under

The binding light.


Transference of a canvas eye

Trembling foliage

Of restless flight.


Bleak English flocks of eerie cry

Contours of red and olive leap

Silent before the start of night.


Paradox of pastoral sigh

Movement of time, of tides, of weather

Of global warming’s subtle blight


Precision, passion and fury lie,

Arcing over, arcing under,

In brush marked insight.


Bridge, water, uneasy sky

Smudged beauty, blurred edges

Of observed delight.




ENGLISH OPENING  (After T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’_)


In memory of my father


1)  The Burial of the dead


The chatter of summer village follows the coffin’s country path

where family and hangers on, already half drunk on loss

stumble to a poet’s funeral, his wasteland strewn in song.

Harmonious Tallis, Kaddish murmur, a Christian church.

Tame sheep amongst the graves, Samuel Palmer pastoral,

bleat away modernism as the family throw lilies on new earth.


2)  A game of chess


Did you make the first English opening or did I?

Was it polite, cautious, a facile move, or passionate poetry?

Checkmate, chequered history, pawns and royalty’s evasive, diagonal crossing.

The drawn out manoeuvres hardly felt, brandy and incenses licking squares.

Always the last breath, nothing to brag about, a shadow

cast on your face, your hair toppling pieces.


3)  The Fire Sermon


He built his fire with sermon’s sorrows he never read,

the detritus of trees, storm fallen after centuries standing still

in Suffolk silence. He listened to burning, radio, with deaf intensity,

hunched in the faded light of paper, charcoal smouldered branches,

declining Latin verbs, a German tongue, a Bach concerto,

flickering behind warm eyes, watering a blur of smoke.


4) Death by water


The house will sink into the marsh, six centuries later,

ship’s rafter floors ship-wrecked and drowned like Dunwich town,

the bell resounding for dying men.

Acres of marshes flooded, all manuscripts reduced to paper-mache

shaped into a human form, then deer, coypu, otter,

extinction a certainty. Here we go round the Mulberry bush.


5)  What the thunder said


It chases us, the wrath of waste, chaos and greed,

A flash of lucidity in a sea-land overcome with tears,

Unknowing, unanswerable, unanswered, the words learnt and burnt at root.

A primitive bird sings from a kind canvas of bark,

mocking, squawking, in the dull time between dawn and chorus

until all senses are exhausted, thrown into a fathomless opening.






1 Comment »

  1. […] Claire Hamburger […]

    Pingback by textVISUAL 1 « textVISUAL | June 9, 2009 | Reply

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