Naomi Tate Maghen

Naomi Tate Maghen

was born in London, England and lives in Israel. She is a mixed media and ceramic artist. She started writing poetry when health issues prevented her from creating art. Today, she’s a daytime artist and an occasional poet. Her work can be seen on Instagram @naomitatemaghen

A Collage Titled Security

with an x-acto knife
i slice up my father’s
yellowed photograph

i cleave the three boys right
out from their benghazi balcony
careful to keep their shirts intact
(you can’t transplant half a heart)

i slice the italian from their throats
and the arabic from their ears
they can keep their hebrew prayer lips
(since they’re pursed-shut and smiling)

i slice the angry mob from their eyes
and their bruised tan skin from their temporal lobes

i stick their worker’s limbs
their shirts and their lips
their vacant eyes
and disenfranchised brains
onto a british flag
with animal fat

i burn their jerusalem shoes


“and his name in Israel shall be called Yitschak
son of Yaakov” – wording from the Jewish circumcision ceremony

seek out closed cubicles for public pissing
when you’re older
anglicise your name
i mumble into the talcum powder cloud
securing his nappy with a cross stitch

what’s in a name
i slot the answer in a box under the stairs
with all my other snipped things

the five books of moses
a passover plate
plastic frogs and fake blood
tzitzit   skullcaps
a blue-starred flag

here’s what i should write on these boxes     highly flammable    handle with care

i quiet the crying at my breast
and i call my baby yitschak
when i bathe him
i call him yitschak when i kiss him goodnight
i call him yitschak
when i send him to school on his bike

like his name isn’t a history of sacrifice
that outstretches my mortal vagina

Dear Mother

i tried to call you again yesterday
luka was pulling at her leash
barking at the scent of a family
barbeque in someone else’s yard

you launched into pride     judith’s kids
how they sing         like you on a stage
holy    holy     holy     lord they click their heels and you’re there

i stopped listening      grunt grunt
is my new smile and nod
you didn’t notice         my kids
were calling me to action
this i can do    transition to the present
where i’m present     sometimes

i don’t call you for weeks        in the kitchen window
i see myself disgruntled
like you    disembodied hands washing dishes
a ghost trapped between amens

a high-cut neon pink swimsuit you disappeared
floats into mind      your flapjacks that stuck
in my teeth like i love you’s

that time you leaned in to kiss me goodnight
and i was so surprised i caught you
full on my parted lips

i still wonder what you did with it
that swimsuit
it wasn’t the colour you despised
it was the long black zip from cleavage to belly button
representing choice    that i loved    that you couldn’t abide

i wonder if it reminded you of your prayerfree childhood

but none of this is what i’d wanted to say

A Six Year Itch

it’s been a month of revelations
a rush to complete the ark
before the rains start

the empty bottle of arak
sits on a pale blue tablecloth
a thrift store floral affair
that doesn’t absorb any spills

the number of steps it takes us to reach the bedroom has pinocchioed

but somewhere between leonard cohen and cupidity
sex dances still

more of a waltz than a tango
like baking a batch of biscuits
without the need for a recipe

whitewashed walls pin the king bed
i’m facing away

you don’t need to grieve he says

my thoughts are pearls
springing down the stairs
attempting to evade the string

An Unfinished Love Story

there was a table between us
and nothing else

in those first bites   a pube in the throat
was anecdotal

that tumble in the boot
of my minivan    the fateful happenstance of my menstrual cycle
we had to wait    had to wait
we couldn’t wait

to pluck at every synapse
sticky notes bridging memories
like neon gills
can two be considered a school of fish

chapter one
oh to discover how to breathe under water
in my late thirties
a bird shits on my garden fence   right in front of me    my mother

believes in god
but not in breathing
under water

or that table
i didn’t set it right
she chastises me   you can’t dissect meat with a dessert spoon     silly

chapter two
we heimlich words against each other’s chests

instead of admitting to my mother
instead of admitting to ourselves

that we’re drowning

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