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Jill Hoffman’s October 7th Poems

The distinguished American poet feels rage

Jill Hoffman
November 10, 2023
Kibbutz Be’eri, Oct. 17, 2023

Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

Kibbutz Be’eri, Oct. 17, 2023

Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

Golan Heights

Every ten years your number comes up.

I got my Guggenheim in 1974, so my number

Is 4. The first time in 2004 and then again

In 2014 I was invited to a Guggenheim

Party. New Guggenheims were given out

And old fellows were invited to attend.

Joyce Carol Oates was there with her

Husband. My former husband had

Written our budget for going to London

Which Is how I found out I had won. I told

Jonathan Baumbach in our shared office

At Brooklyn College that my husband

Embarrassingly had listed toilet paper

As an expense and Jonathan said that means

You’ve won. “If they ask you for a budget

You’ve won.” It was my first time applying.

“I applied eleven times and never got it,”

He said. I felt sorry for him when Noah

Baumbach vilified him in his film; then my

Daughter in her novel did the same thing

To me. A man died that night of a heart attack.

He was taken away quietly in an ambulance.

I asked but never learned the details.

The views are astounding. From

Edward Hirsch’s office you can see

All the tall buildings of heaven on earth,

You are at the height of immortals

Wearing olive branches in their hair.

You try to network; I’m not good at it.

A handsome poet who was a doctor

From Palestine came from California

Where he lived now to get his award.

“You’re Jewish, aren’t you?” he said.

“Yes,” I said. “I knew it,” he remarked

With a hatred like a drawn sword

I had never experienced before.

“They took my family’s house away.”

This was before Hamas beheaded

Babies, burned them in their cribs,

Bound whole hugging families with

Steel and burned them alive, before

Women were raped then tortured

On command: do anything you want

And I saw one on television over and

Over pulled by the hair her sweat

Pants stained with blood on her behind

As she was shoved into a car to be killed.

The butchery of 2023. In 2024 I will

Go back again, to those spectacular heights

If the building is still standing, if I am.

Surrounded by friends waving Hamas flags

The sink is full of dishes because the dishwasher

Flooded the kitchen, the repairman didn’t come

From 8 to 12. Chicken Little, the sky is falling, the

Sky is falling. The President is chicken. Winken,

Blinken, and Nod. Some kitchen towels look like

Keffiyeh. You must wear one to be safe.

Jill Hoffman is the founding editor of Mudfish and Box Turtle Press. She has just published her second novel, Stoned, Mudfish Fiction Series #1. Jilted was published by Simon and Schuster in 1993. The Gates of Pearl, her most recent book of poetry, is #11 of the Mudfish Individual Poet Series. She is also a painter.