Sin. Alongside-poems, 3 vol, The Right to Reciprocity (excerpt: the poems selected from ‘Love’ cycle)

‘Sin. Alongside-poems’ as a paper book has been published in Polish version in hardcover, limited edition, pp. 262 ( Publishing Co, Warsaw 2013).


Isaac Jacobovsky

Sin. Alongside-poems

the third volume

The Right to Reciprocity

Significance of Canto


Illustrations by Samuel Halèvy Robin Spark

e-book, pages 122

Edinburgh 2013




I lost track of time
except the day was the same
the one and only in the year
after hours absorbed the prayer ripped
the membranes of my entrails
bulging my skin beyond
to transcend the holy time
I stood on one leg to relieve the pain

At this very moment an emaciated old man
came up to me
naked and shamed
clumsily trying to cover
his unnaturally big
shivering from the cold
his shaven head infested with dirty

I covered him quickly with a tallit
rushed down to grab some clothes and food
in the kitchen on this one and only day of the year
Christine Burns had nothing to eat
by the time I returned
the mysterious stranger was already dead

Throngs of the faithful crowded
the Synagogue
I do not know why they failed to notice
the martyred
old man
my repeated attempts to say penance
proved futile
by late evening the trace left by his body
was invisible even to me

Translated by Agnieszka Śliwińska and Jonathan Kish
(Polish version p.222-223: Isaac Jacobovsky, Sin. Alongside-poems, Warsaw 2013, pp.262)


Cosmic phenomena can destroy
the most stately buildings
artists often try to contain them
in huge stained glass compositions
intending to channel the untamed vitality
through the frames of imposing facades
but contrary to their intentions
by their power
cosmic phenomenon despotically pervade
the entire space

I could almost touch this apparition
with my hand
in the hallway of the Edinburgh Synagogue
when the stiff still figures
succumbed to the light streaming
through the stained glass window
hanging the highest was the small boy’s feet
his shoes clearly far too big for him
but they did not slip off his feet despite the passage of time
the others were hanging with their feet bare
their ankles purple swollen
could no longer tolerate any shoes

Lost between this and that
a luminous insect
clutching on the rigid rope
made the man’s body swing delicately
the hanged man twitched
as if through his tightened throat
still he tried to catch a breath
the light of the stained glass burst into life
anguish illuminating the victims’ faces

Penny Weinman wanted to cut off the hanged men
so that I could ritually wash their spent bodies
John Masterson quickly set up the ladder
brought a towel and water
wiped the nameplate hanging on a long rope
saying Jude
but due to a sudden fear of heights
or a mighty force overpowering us
nothing more we could do

Only love mattered
I did not want our situation once it is understood turned
into helplessness and a sense
of guilt
that condemn the living to an existence
between knowledge and ignorance
anxious I kept on reading louder and louder
the Shema
as if starting to argue with God himself

Translated by Agnieszka Śliwińska and Jonathan Kish
(Polish version p.224-225: Isaac Jacobovsky, Sin. Alongside-poems, Warsaw 2013, pp.262)


The wind it seems elusive
when caught in a bird’s wings
it becomes the bird’s flight
when jostled by pressure balance it holds its breath
waiting on the north side of the Synagogue
it is a silent witness of passers-by
walking by me

Over time the wind gets impatient and mounts a challenge
that is beyond human grasp
it searches for those stronger than itself
who carry within them the wisdom
of the beginning
scholars fluent in holy truths

Noisy people drown my thoughts with their hustle
a plump woman insolently barges by
the elite accentuate their affluence
catching in a trap the sacred space
a fine-looking boy stupefies
an innocent girl
the elderly fail to follow the young the children
David Rose must prepare all of them
for sleep
finally he arranges them in layers
one person on top of the other
from ground up to ceiling

A small group of men walks straight to the mikvah
tormented with evil exhausted because of the murderers
the ritual bath will help them survive
in the crowd and discomfort irritation comes too easy
and they want to avoid it in a place like this
David Rose has already covered the entire floor with bodies
finally he sits down in the hall in a very narrow passage
puts the Torah scrolls in front of him
reading scroll after scroll slowly and clearly

Silent for so long the wind suddenly howls
worshiping the Heroes

Translated by Agnieszka Śliwińska and Jonathan Kish
(Polish version p.227-228: Isaac Jacobovsky, Sin. Alongside-poems, Warsaw 2013, pp.262)


Simplicity died
it was your friend
from the beginning till the end

Death had not known his victim
he had been guided neither by good nor evil

After his visit a pinch of irony
with such carefulness were the phrases chosen by you
now there is no one it can turn to

Is a poet’s life expectancy associated
with pertinence to existential reflection?

Now dot by dot your dots
scattered near poems
will be unwilling to reveal their meaning

Smart people live happily in many words
to die in the best of many possible

Today it is you who is dead is alive is dead
Polish Queen Wieslawa
which is easier to perceive than to understand

(p.235: Isaac Jacobovsky, Sin. Alongside-poems, Warsaw 2013, pp.262)


Love is like a too hasty freedom
untamed and crazy
rushing into the oceans
filled with what is ahead of us and what was before

Although it is subject to the laws
of stochastic distribution of accents
– indefinitely extended duration
bringing distant things

We are looking at it in ourselves
trying to predict the future
explain the vitality of the soul
entangled in corporeality

But even in the boldest act of fulfillment
love does not reveal the mystical rapture
into which G-d himself has changed
giving us the right to reciprocity

(p.261: Isaac Jacobovsky, Sin. Alongside-poems, Warsaw 2013, pp.262)


Grzech. Przywiersze’, tom 3, ‘Prawo do wzajemności’

‘Sin. Alongside-poems’,  volume 3, ‘The Right to Reciprocity

Published by Isaac Jacobovsky

Copyright © by Isaac Jacobovsky, 2013

Illustrations copyright © by Samuel Halèvy Robin Spark, 2013

All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or adapted to the needs of the media – without the prior written permission of the poems and illustrations Authors

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