by Steven Sher (May 2014)

Jerusalem, 2013

When I see them in the alley

reading the morning papers,

unable to wait to get them home,

I hear again my father’s slap

of newsprint on the kitchen table.

We were a three-daily family

back then. My father scanned

the headlines of one tabloid

before opening the fold.

I grabbed another and turned

straight for the back page,

the sports, absorbed

as I ignored the meal. My sister

liked the comics; my mother,

the crosswords. But she waited

until we had devoured our sections

and abandoned the table.

Reading was as much a part

of breakfast as the orange juice

and the toasted bagels, so we

believed in the great bold

declarations of the times

as if we’d seen them with

our own eyes. But now,

when lies prevail, when gossip

and exposure measure

the greatness of a man

and truth is afraid to face

the light of day, no one

trusts the journalists.

Each day the same old lies

about the Jews—the same

death sentence proclaimed.

Lies about our history and

world conspiracies. Lies

about the settlers. Lies about

the intentions of the Islamists,

their “religion of peace.”

Lies about those scandalous

leaders who keep reappearing

in the public nightmare.

Lies from the pulpit, lies

from the Mount. Lies

spray-painted, fresh graffiti,

on the city’s white stone walls

like blood upon the altar.

O the sanctity of lies.




Brooklyn native Steven Sher is the author of 14 books including, most recently, The House of Washing Hands (Pecan Grove Press, 2014) and Grazing on Stars: Selected Poems (Presa Press, 2012). He has taught at many universities/workshops for more than 35 years. He moved to Jerusalem in 2012. Find out more at


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