Philip Hyams

Philip Hyams is an Israeli/Canadian novelist and poet living near Tel-Aviv.
His first novel, "Canaan Barred", was published in 1995 by Tell Books in New York and Toronto. He has performed in Amsterdam under the auspices of One World Poetry and been published in First Time Magazine, Isibongo, Ariga, Talus, Scree, Almogaver. Peace, Shalom. 

His email is Philip Hyams

Birth Pangs
Dead Ringers
Once Was A Hope
To L.
After Twelve *
Baiting *
This Is My Heritage *
The Marriage Temple *
Urban Gypsy *
Subversion *
Stroll *
Trotsky – My Conscience *


And so the hot dry Sinai

Beckoned like an immense vessel of refuge

Perhaps like a woman in the throes of seduction

So I fled to the oasis and Nueiba with crystal

sharp lights of blazing orange/brown hues

And at night…piercing quiet…at last

With a marble of cobalt-blue skies

Massaged by the washing hands of a Red Sea in slumber

To quell the turmoil in the heart

Of this high-tech refugee from a

Land lit up by diodes and Web-driven Fantasies

This fantasy was momentarily needed above

The reality-check days of pressurized

Urban madness

The Fleeing…accepted by a heart

Beginning to quiet.

To L.

L. for love of my life

And a score and a half

Of full living…the ups…the downs…

But always my passion for your sweet

Smile and warm body next to mine in the nights

When the visions tore at everything.

My everything is you L.

A secret to your identity in this tome

For it is written we are 1 (ONE) for eternity

My love for U is forever.

Once Was A Hope

The hope once was a

Dream for us in a

Nightmare of war we

Believed in Peace

But now the stones mixed

With the blood of the children

And the plans of murderers

Hit each of us enemy or not

In our souls with dead


Another human being is buried

In Holy ground

While Peace the greatest victim

Escapes for generations and the

War of brother’s resumes spilling

The guts of families across a

Wasteland of historical imbecility

Dead Ringers

Dead ringers.

Who? You. Me!

Cousins with dark features and

Weathered brown complexions.

With names like Mohammed and Moshe,

Avi and Ali, Michal and Mustapha.

Dark stars, cousins killing brothers killing

Mothers killing fathers killing children

Killing cousins over and over and over

Till the bell tolls:

Enough! Truce! Wasted lives

Lives meant to be lived but instead

Lived to be killed even though

Death will come in due course for us all.

Dead ringers!

You look like me but are not.

I look like you and am not.

Who? You. Me!

Birth Pangs

I come from a land which

Gave birth to the world and

Now destroys itself while the

World watches.

I come from a country where

Ideas formed other freedoms and thoughts

But now has no ideas except the

One buried on the lips of martyrs.

I come from a place where

Cultures and peoples were born and

Died out like petering embers of

A global campfire.

Only ashes are left. Birth pangs?




Initiated by a strange thought,
An outburst of anger provoked;
That wheelchair standing so unattended
In a coppice quite remote;
Brought The Brood back together.
Those disenchanted three having drifted
Apart over the innovative years;
Imagining it was some black joke,
Laughed kismet aloud to themselves.
Yet it had been arranged before.
It was no random jest.
Would those horribly homologous hellcats
See the purpose in that test?
For the invalid once confined to
That leather-backed contraption,
Wasted great stores of her energy
Rolling in Circle’s thriftless action.
That stump was their mother!
How had she managed to raise
Such rampageous rattling rascals?
There had never been another.
Now postured with light behind,
And staring down at remembrance;
That trio of clucking witches would
Retrace their steps unto another time:
When they as anyone like anyone
Could have been hungry, wet or crying;
And then that litter epitomized
The eternal triangle’s need for
A healing, bold, declarative loving sign.

But those roles play with us
Leaving no one exempt.
Children end up their parents’ parents,
The debtors are tautologically bled.
Yet it is not from intention that
The feeling is so communicated;
Though brief be their conjectural pasts,
They have all been thoroughly inundated!
So returning to that triad gazing
At various recollections miserably distorted:
That outdated vehicle’s former occupant
Seated once again, herself visibly undaunted,
Before The Brood’s projector eyes.
Understandably startled by her appearance,
Their histories so seemingly reported,
Could have meant no more to them,
When placed above those maternal sighs.
That scene being now revived,
Resounded from the clatter raised by
Various relatives and assorted lovers who
Crooned to one another beneath the foliage.
Was it a wedding or a wake?
Such a gaggle was nothing to be
Tolerated all for the sake
Of a show of imported fools
Being brought down to the lake
Which lay below the copse.
The Brood were much smaller then,
Much happier, none the smarter;
Knowing naught of marital mistake!


That wheelchair was shinier too,
Holding a dead-legged beauty who
Not once attempted to solicit a woo
In Pity’s name or spiteful melody.
They only remember the proximity of
Those encompassing, cushioning arms.
A sharp scent off heated skin halved
By a metal stool implied no harm would
Come to the triplets whilst in
That protective healing embrace.
But that Madonna’s youth swiftly flew;
One departed then three became two,
And two changed into one until
Even that one soon had gone.
Silences grew out of loveless days,
With no child left to fan the flames
Which petered out of that heart.
The reunion had turned quite sad.
The Brood released a curt bark
Of pain which turned into some
Had item on a forgotten shopping list.
That Mom’s flesh dried then fell
From those half-used bones,
Like wide velvet petals from the
Stem of some hemophiliac rose.
Until finally, The Brood circled in
That homeland: Old vultures gathered
Together in fear and knowing of no
Singular reason why they were
There with their souls bare.
The country sky bore down upon them.


Your body is a moonscape
as the candle flickers
in the other room sending
its light weaving around
your now tossing torso.
And I imagined I saw
the inferno boiling in your
eyes as I shook when I landed
upon your white planet.
The moon is not cold.
The moon is not dead.


I saw an old leather boot lying dead
upon the street
There is a war outside which waits
silently for its victims from
the city
The cyber-punk kid is the new Achilles
with his diaper safely fastened by a bloody
safety pin he sits in dumbness
awaiting the new messiah
The soldiers in the war do not realize
they are engaged in battle
They are not even aware of the wounds
they inflict upon their opponents
How can this be when their opponents
are themselves
They are their conquerors and the
There is a war outside
Blinds of creaky crumbly desolate houses
swing to and fro pushed by the foul drafts
of the city
Newspapers blow across no-man’s lands of
asphalt and steel sewer tops
The black fear the white and the white are
even more terrified of the black
Street children sit crouched against brick walls
wiping away the snot from their noses with
deft violin plucks of the arm
They steal glances from the crowds who
pass on by
the ones who are petrified of showing compassion
the ones who are glorified because circumstances
do not warrant sympathy for them as of yet
But now I say to you who read this piece
I scream at you who read this
Just as that old boot who in its lifetime
has been kicked around
Just as it is being kicked around now by a million
lonely creatures
So shall we experience the storm of change
The wall will break
The infinity of glass and light will shatter
upon these streets
upon the black-tie dinners of smirking socialites
upon the Ego and the Id
the war is here
Soon it shall remove its robe of concealment
The children will burn but when the battle is
over be reborn
I saw an old leather boot lying dead upon the street


In recollection those memories
Carried no aches or poison fluids
Which leaked from inflamed bowels:
But only numbness, dumb thuds
Falling off long dead friends.
And mothers past the menopause
Held no authority or philosophies
Which could guide their wayward sons:
But only brittleness, yellow senility
Whispered from cracked parched mouths.
In futures those reactions
Fed no purpose or cleansing fire
Which eased man’s weaker plight:
But only retribution, cruel death
Born of lies and guns.
And offspring out of puberty
Maintained inheritances in disguise
Which decided others’ sordid fates:
But only momentarily, hollow releases
Spawned by shame and might.

After Twelve

The affair is finished.
Oh, you with your taxi heart!
A quarter for each beat of compassion
And the ride never ends.
An undisclosed destination.
Oh, you with your mechanical soul!
A screw for every move of understanding
And the part is supplied.
But never-ending, never-ending
That knowledge in deception,
Yet accepting all the while
Your worthless priceless reflection,
Never-ending, never-ending.
The tonguing is finished.
Oh, you with your cab philosophy,
A dime for each tick of sympathy
And the journey becomes infinite.
But never-ending, never-ending
Yet amazingly in contradiction,
Forever quickly finished.


And you’re just like a
Concentration Camp
I get thinner everyday
My soul diminishes
My spirit hides
My love is imprisoned
And I cry out just like
Those distant relatives
And open my arms wide
Ready to embrace Death
Hoping he’ll receive me
Wanting to die
The gas is your smile
Then your frown
Then your smile
Then your frown
Your face is the spotlight
Burning my Jew skin
I never know how to react
To those expressions
You slowly suffocate me
But I’ll never cry out!
I’ll break away
I’ll cut the barbed-wire
Of your body
I’ll rip the wires from
Your electric personality
I’ll survive
And return to see you
Stand in the accused box
Condemned for your crimes
You’ll be the victim!

This Is My Heritage

This is my heritage
A series of bad knocks
And bloody circumcision cloths
From where "the chosen"
Were just that
And the mobs with their
Fish mouths raved while
They hit smashed punched
Until the gray sponge brains
Seeped out from cracked shells
A board then to be hung
"Jew Dog Child-Eater"
This is my heritage
A path of losing battles
And desert sandstorms
From where the tribe
Fought for oneness
And the Delilahs with their
Tempting kisses tricked while
They seduced lied murdered
Until the many farmer giants
Gasped out from the desecrated temples
A lesson then to be learnt
"No death without revenge"

The Marriage Temple

If I promise to love you
Can we plunge the Hari Kari blades
Together into our wombs?
At the same time
We shall be as one
Smiling in our eternal love.

Urban Gypsy

He came by my bus stop one cold and rainy evening.
He said that he was a gypsy, then he asked me if
I knew where I was going.
He didn’t wait for my answer but instead continued
on speaking. "I am going but I don’t know where I
am going. I am going but I don’t know where I am
going. I am going but I don’t know where I am
Most people turned away from him or laughed.
I did not.
"I am going but I don’t know where I am going."
The cars and buses zoomed on past over the wet
street beside us.
"I am going but I don’t know where I am going."
The neon jewelry of the buildings reflected
their false promises upon the people and sidewalks.
"I am going but I don’t know where I am going."
He was short and unshaven.
He carried his home in a plastic shopping bag.
At least he was truthful to himself.


A new mode of modernity:
Robots lanced by emotion
But pursued by reason.
The ecclesia has been perverted under
A topaz sky of camouflage.
Hybrid philosophies have won the battle,
They rule and control showing no mercy.
So bind one more martyr to the pole.
Sacrifice him to an old ideal.
Let his ashes be blown across a land
Where flesh is cheap, expendable.
A new mode of modernity:
Robots lanced by emotion
But pursued by reason.


I walked along the strand.
It was wet and smooth.
My footprints disappeared
As fast as they were embossed
Upon that hard-packed shore.
A torch of a moon shone down
And lured a light around the
Torso of a dead man.
His skin was ripped and white.
His gashes were blue and red.
In the distance I saw the smile
Of a shark, a glimmer in his eyes,
A chuckle in the dark.

Trotsky – My Conscience

The bed is over there
By the picture of Leon Trotsky.
If you lay me upon it
I shall erect a god for your chapel.
If you lay me upon it
I shall moan in pleasure for your celebration.
Yet I could have sworn that Leon frowned
When your bra and panties hit the ground!
"Comrade…is this the way to change?"
"No", I replied…"But I’d rather itch and gasp
than scream and die. I’d rather raise my little gun for
Freedom’s name than raise a real one for
Freedom’s grave."
And so let’s return
To the matter at hand
To the matter at mouth,
You go North
I’ll go South
And we’ll meet in the middle
Over by the bed.
I’ll turn Leon’s picture
Towards the wall.
It’s making me nervous.
He looks too suspecting.
He stands too tall!
Tomorrow I’ll get rid of that picture.


Plastic flowers propped up,
Standing in brass cartridge casings
Of former anti-tank shells.
The war is over Mohammed.
Its paraplegic losers roll back
towards their homes,
Twisted limbs and cutout hearts,
Twisted limbs and broken bones.
Black-masked steel,
Who is the mightier power?
Arab eyes?
Jew noses?
Who bleeds the history books?
Who paints their own people
In black oils?
Is this field mined?
Will this tree grow?
"The car blew up over there."
He points at a charred stone wall.
"They came during the night in rubber dinghies."
She points towards a bullet-riddled villa.
My bones, your bones.
My brother, your son.
My son, your brother.
The war is over Ilan.
Your son is born into a world
Of blue ocean and sun and sea
And green orchards
And death
And death
And murder
And defense
And justice
And injustice
Your justice
Their suffering
Their justice
Your suffering
My justice.
Jericho Oh Jericho has no more walls.
Jericho dry Jericho has no more tears.
No more tears to shed.
No more Psalms to sing.
No more graves to rob.
The Lebanon Oh sweet cedar scent
Burns and hands reach out from
The rubble, bubble, rubble, bubble
Bubble barrel oil.
In the West all is best.
Their B-52s bring our nourishment
While the other’s Kalatchinakovs
Feed our children’s imaginations.
Abraham’s sons duel.
They smile at one another and show
Their teeth.
The Holy Land is riddled enough.
Mohammed take my hand
Our wheelchairs need oiling.


But the numbers indicated
Only a victim,
One whose eyes burned
Like hot coals:
The speculum of fire.
The human mirror dancing
and Eastern jig,
One whose destiny sung
Like a Spring robin:
One later being consumed.
The bones rattle in the closet.
White flakes all on scorched earth.
The khamsin combs the cool air,
Its electric heat drying it.
Summer is dead and Winter’s near.
Bodies are buried only to reappear.
The survivors will be coming home.


Who are you who prolong
This agony?
With your black flying-saucer hat
You skim our people’s history.
Daubed on a wall of Jerusalem stone:
"Zionism is diametrically opposed to
So what are you doing here?
You are the three percent suffering.
You are the conscience of the obsolete.
You are the victim of dogma and
The slave of belief.
May the ghetto burn like
A dry bale of hay
And may its fumes blow forever,
Forever, faraway.
The shadow Jews of Mea Shearim
only used to pray.
Now they dictate.


Lesions painted by ideologies
Upon our lovers and their
Bloodless incisions by intangibles
Write our biographies then propose
Their toasts!


My Arab brother
I now fast your Ramadan
Because it was I
Who fed that big gun
Which took your life
And your blood mixed with
Our earth
Your woman tore her hair
While mine clutched me to her
In the night
I was your life
My woman your wife
Your children chose darkness
To become our conscience
Our people commit fratricide
And our fathers sow the seeds
Of future Shivas
How do we cut that tie
When we terminate a life?
The palms wear rings
Rings for each war
Rings for each body
Each boy we lose becomes
Some sort of unlucky Issac
And Ishmael we are given
No choice
We have no voice
We are only actors in History’s
My Arab brother
We who both know Abraham
Let us throw down our knives
In exchange for the plow’s blade
The spilled blood from the past
Can only fertilize


Not all of us,
Not all of us
Like untenable kittens
In last death throes,
Shall select the blade
To bleed our way to fame.
Not all of us,
Not all of us
Like nodding prophets
In smug "I told you so’s"
Shall sever the thread
To change our name to Pain.


The Sachnah oasis where we swam
And lay:
Sol burned us from our noses
To our soles.
Crushed olives under feet.
Dates falling from the sky.
The next day:
Back to that octopus Tel-Aviv.
Return to the ghetto!


We sit Shiva like cowardly Buddha’s.
The room is bare…not even a picture.
But Oh! In the corner a machine-gun.
Sirens wail like succubi in the night.
We sit Shiva while bombs fall all around.
The children are below.
The war lasted only six days.
It took the old one eight to die.
We sit Shiva with tired souls.


Mongrel, they shot you with
Pellets that pulped your heart
And tufts of your fur flew up
Into the early morning light.
Our kibbutz had too many hounds
That year and not enough cats to
Catch the mice.


That man, sitting in the corner over there,
Capture his thoughts:
I believe I am mulling over an idea
Of sun and sea…a land where I may flee
To in order to give myself a chance to
Think…an island covered in twisted wired
Palms and impressionable sand…a refuge
For a misfit.
That man, sitting in the corner over there,
Capture his thoughts:
It’s a cold country infected with quaint
Houses and stiff-lipped people afraid of
Nonexistent ghosts. The waters are grey
And the leaves from the trees fall like
Brittle slips of paper from burnt diaries,
Cracking onto the red brick roads.
That man, sitting in the corner over there,
Capture his thoughts:
I don’t think I’ll go. No, it would be a
Mistake. Besides…I can’t take the heat.
Look at that snow falling now! Everything
Is innocent again. The people are sliding
by one another at a slower pace. I’ll take
Another drink, a cigarette, then go home.


Settling for stone
For stone to hold us safe and warm
When the elements are unfriendly
For stone to weight us beneath the ground
While our physical bodies shrivel away
For stone to let our aggression out with
When words and eyes cannot persuade
Our enemies to go off in peace
(But those enemies are ourselves
Just as they are our friends)
Settling for stone
To build our hearts in granite coffins
While we pave false truths over our souls
Settling for stone


Like the old/this dented city with its
Bald cracked byways.
A picture window partially misted over by
The cold/a child’s face all rosy and
Puffy gazes out at me.
I am old/I am eaten
I am convinced/I am bought
I sold out with maturity!
It rains and the grey flows down the cold
Asphalt road.
A picture window partially misted over by
The warmth/a grownup’s face all stiff and
Lined looks out at me.
I am young/I am innocent
I am resilient/I am strong
Will I become funny like him?
Like the story/this dreaming man with his
Large hemorrhaging soul.
Like those two/this rusted lion will never
Know one truth.
Like the old/this dented city with its
Dying dead youth.
A picture window completely clouded over by
The weather/no one’s face to meet and
No one’s eyes to penetrate.
It is snowing/it is blowing
It is black/it is freezing.
Their Springs shall never come back.
Like the demise of the painted season/they have
Never learned.


Gaunt faces
Gaunt faces
Gaunt faces.
Gaunt faces
Gaunt faces
Gaunt faces.


Python from Jerusalem,
In the sweet blackness squeeze
My meager suffering out
While I perish ligatured in your
Muscular rippling wire body.
Like an electric current you surge
Through me through me through me.
I frizzle at the ends.
I am one then.
You are me.
Jerusalem’s brown experienced body
Twists and contorts in the night.
Before tomorrow’s shining
The old city’s walls shall crash in
On my head.
The donkey’s wails shatters
Evening’s pensive mood.
And you slinky supple serpent?
You are gone before I awake,
Your teardrops frozen upon my pillow,
Shimmering jewels in the cracks
Of early morning’s smile.


At wit’s end.
The second-hand twitches then
Snaps off into the washbasin.
History: two thrashing bodies
A shot in the thick jungle
Of passion, later regret.
A diaper-pin gleaming
Blood on the tip
A crayoned children’s book
A bib
A highchair
A thunderstorm.
At wit’s end.
The minute-hand races then
Slowly comes to a halt.
History: one serious scholar
A pawn on the chessboard
Of youth, later cynic.
A rolled-up magazine
Ink on the cover
A pack of prophylactics
A comic book
A suit
A snowfall.
At wit’s end.
The cover-glass cracks then
Drops onto the maple-wood floor.
History: a diaper-pin gleaming
Blood on the tip
A crayoned children’s book
A bib
A highchair
A digital clock.
At wit’s end.
The hour-hand bends then
Lies prostrate on the faceplate.
History: one grey cadaver
A body for the massive graveyard beyond
Future soul?
A box of pills
Dosage written quite clearly
An electric call switch
A magnifying glass
A urine bottle
A thunderstorm.


The bomb was fabricated from
Steel pipe and placed on a bus
filled with schoolchildren.
He watched from an alley.
It didn’t go off.
The following day he was run over
By a tractor from the kibbutz while sleeping in a field.
His kefiah blew down into a wadi.


Silences/your hair touching my shoulder/
Your black-alley eyes sealed by sleep.
Silences/a crowd of ghosts celebrating/
Your bitter breath seasons my love.
Silences/your hand resting on my thigh/
Your life anchors me firmly here.
Silences/dreams forgetting my donated time/
Your breasts cushion my imagined fear.


At these heights one does not see
The trivial anymore/not even specks.
Black stubble on the planet’s beard/
Not moving/no sounds/frozen excitements.
At this summit one does not look
Down to earth/blind bat’s eyes.
Hairy sparrow flying on intuition only/
Not believing/only frequencies/pulsing moods.


Settlements/sores festering/
Blood rehearsals/pale numbers.
Settlements/grey rocks/
Neurotic children/rusted tricycles.
Settlements/long history/
Butchered Indians/dying America.
Settlements/new world/
Any belief/bleak future.
Settlements/skin blistering/
Proud refusals/dancing mummers.


The washed shutters in pearl blues
Stand half-open revealing eyes of
Darkened rooms.
Its holder: a house built from stone
Sitting high on four pillars upon
The edge of an ageless Semitic hill.
Empty, empty, they are all gone.
Everything was found intact,
Even the dishes left in the rack.
Did they really hope to come back?
What prophecies did they believe?
Oh those poor children, how they were
Their intended victims were not.
Their conscience only now begins to bleed
In hate against those dreams which were
Promised but never came
True, true.
What is truth?
Only a different lie for you
Than it is for me.
What is an Arab?
What is a Jew?
Only brothers who have been torn in two.
Their father was Abraham,
Not the Muslim, not the Jew!
And now empty houses with window shutters
Painted for Allah’s eyes alone, await patiently,
Wait, wait.
Wait to the wars are over
And the final judgments have been made.
Magog and Gog are knocking upon their
We are all refugees.