Zev Davis was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1943 and lived in Upper Nazareth until his death in 2019.  He published one chapbook, Some Other Day (Cyclamens and Swords, 2012; copies may be purchased from Miriam Davis, miriamd1948 at yahoo dot com). 

Zev was a steady contributor to The Deronda Review beginning in 2012.  The first poems he sent us were collaborations with a California friend, Steve Toth, whom he credits, in the introduction to his chapbook, with getting him back to poetry after a long dry spell.  Beginning with free verse, he soon turned to formal writing.  He wrote prolifically, often sending his poems out to an email list.  Despite living far away he often came to Jerusalem for poetry events.

Zev's gentle, humane voice, with its mixture of humor and spirituality, will be greatly missed.




As I breathe, life

is a team sport, a collaboration,

an instrument of love, living

the joy of shedding my larval coating

to begin

air breathing.  I haven't looked this way for a while. 

Who will be my highest bidder this time?

I see you're reading poetry again

& this is just the beginning.


As I breath

the land underneath the rubble endlessly

searching for fresh grass mingles

with the smell of fear

& an instinct to stay close.

You have decided to destroy the world

before anyone else.  What provided

for you has become a symbol

of your limitations.  It doesn't matter, yet

you think you're awake.


As I breathe

hapless shadows in love with the sun

nod, wink, a time to fly, to

get going, get eaten.

Are you in charge of this morning? 

Only the earth drives so deeply. 

There is a certain power telling the truth--any truth.  You see

there are no bystanders in poetry

You're either a drummer or a dancer.


                                                   --a collaboration between Stephen Toth and Zev Davis






The rain stopped today

         so we pull our cart

behind us, downtown as far

         as we can get.

The tsunami siren blares &

         the Coast Guard

at Ninth Street hovers over

         the intersection, blocked          

by a fire engine

         in both directions--

at every intersection

         occupied, on the street,

         over there, evacuated.


A friendly fireman says

         that you can sneak through

         but that would not be smart

         and our cart looks as if

         we're homeless.  "We've seen some

         of the surges from here"

He elaborates & points

         with eyes down H street

"They come like a river, flowing,

         pull out all at once.

One went in & out four times

         before it was finished"


A voice from the radio he holds

         says, "The harbor is gone.

         Thirty-five boats have sunk . . .

Three out of four grocery stores

         are evacuated.  We head

         for the one that is open.


We stand on a cliff, outside

         of the town, "Look at that."

A man with a long beard says,

         "There haven't been that many

         flying together like that"

We look up, a flock of forty

         cormorants fly in formation

past us from the south, "They sense

         the energy, so they're going.


See that rock," he points

        to the ocean, "It was quiet

        all the way back.  Then

it came up like a wall.  See

        how high it was over there.

The lucky ones got their boats out

        in time, now there's no place

        for them to tie up &

        they're running out of fuel."


                                                          --Steve Toth and Zev Davis





Like a good little boy, I sit
in a row, before a one dimensional garden.
I think it's Rousseau, or Renoir, somebody
French. That's what the teacher told me.
My brush touches the empty palate, fills
the void. My eyes record what they see,

and I feel the soft surface with its hairs.
They bring color to the empty space. It feels good
to make contact. There is a rush inside

my mind. It tells my hands
the liquid light that blends, that travels,
that universe of discourse that speaks
silently. Like a kiss, each stroke, one more hue
and then from nowhere, a djin taps me on the shoulder

it tells me, "You are not a photographer. Your eyes
must pierce through that membrane, enter into that Reality,
to become one
with it, to create what is you, inside the image. You are
the master of this work. Yes,

you know how what you see
came to be. Take what
you understand". Gently

I break through, as I add
one more flower.





All of a sudden you look back

how time has travelled . . . almost nothing

is left.  No more room, everything

in little boxes, memory chips in jars

with machines that record them.  History, a playback


generations, like a talisman you wear                                                                                                                                                            

on your neck, reminding yourself, pearls of wisdom

that you carry around.  Sitting on a park bench

far away in time, repeating what each one tells

what itched . . . you scratched, as sweat

the size of worry beads, one more link in the chain.


That was a funny joke, you laughed, when

it was fresh.  Eyes follow the images

the You Tube inside your head the doctor ordered.

It keeps you happy when you are down and out . . .  one more prayer,

one more reason to forgive.  You smile


to survive here is to know

the stuff you hold means something.  There is a reason

for you to be, to keep what was there

here and now forever.






Treading carefully, down we go, a picture frame,

a president, Kennedy, saints and sinners, worry beads,

a pile of rubble where the earth recedes,

objects scattered about this abscess, we come


a president, Kennedy, saints and sinners, worry beads

play out their archeological stories, recommends

objects scattered about this abscess, we come

to gather up what's left, that we might spread . . .


play out their archeological stories, recommend

the wisdom of what happened, off to send

to gather up what's left that we might spread

the lore, their vital statistics, all about them,


play out their archeological stories, recommend,

a pile of rubble where the earth recedes,

the lore, their vital statistics, all about them

treading carefully, down we go, a picture frame.






Anyone else would say it was indirect

lighting, the way you came in , no switch, no flame.

Inside was outside, outside was the same

wherever you went for forty years, you trekked,


followed the pillars that protected you along the way

from the shores of the Reed Sea to Plains of Moab camped,

the Enlightenment was always there with the Almighty's stamp

of approval, a testing ground to show you wouldn't stray


from Him, to take the promise to the other side,

stretch the Tabernacle to fill the width and breadth

of the land where you might trod.  Confide


in its deepest secrets, gather its bounty provide,

dwell there, abide by that path, take the Words He said

keep the message You brought forever open wide.




As White as Snow

after an account  there were no casualties reported in the Syrian Civil War in the wake of the recent snow storm—2015


Little miracles happen sometimes, flash

before me.  Snow falls, rain pours, and it's cold.

Heaven's gone insane, all of the cache,

little miracles happen sometimes. Flash

winds call as combatants hold back, crash,

good soldiers, stand, so stark and  so bold.

Little miracles happen sometimes, flash

before me.  Snow falls, rain pours, and it's cold


outside.  Where almost nobody goes, it's safe.

Hot soup, warm tea, a pillow to rest, serene

dreams of days, of a tranquil, quiet life

outside.  Where almost nobody goes, it's safe

to watch the small white flakes  as they weave

a pattern.  When the storm ends, it stays clean

outside.  Where almost nobody goes, it's safe.

Hot soup, warm tea, a pillow to rest, serene,


I can walk about, hold out my hand,

reacquaint myself with someone I know

from across the fence.  Explore, expand,

I can walk about, hold out my hand,

his arms, the words he speaks, how grand

the clouds, our breathe creates condense they show .

reacquaint myself with someone I know


see the sheen of the white, reflect the day.

Why must we defile this perfection, look

at the berries that peek at us , they say,

"See the sheen of the white, reflect the day..

that's red enough for me, and sweet.  Let's play

as if what divides us was a closed book.

See the sheen of the white reflect the day—

Why must we defile this perfection, look .





"And I come to Your altar, with joy and gladness, I praise You with my harp" (Ps 43:4)


I'm safe

now. The walls

around me, quiet,

a space  filled with vision and love




The heavens

reign down upon me here.

It feels good to contemplate

the words


that flow

from inside,

what you placed there when

I arrived here, and I cried out  . . .

It's time


to start

and  it's hard

at first. Beginnings

nothing that you expected, and       



I learn

the venues,

where my feet take me

stepping carefully, and  I know

the way


to find

You, to get

to the gates, enter,

let my voice burst forth, my heart

run free.






          After the Har Nof Massacre 5875

            "I will be sanctified by those that cling to

            me" (Lev. 9:3)


They were closer to You, they spoke, how can

it be that innocent souls whose lips that called

Your Name each day, and nothing else.  They fell

to a fire of them that spread, profane


thoughts wrapped with gilt edged exteriors, so pure

it seemed, guile deceived as sanctity, ah yes

with the ring a sharp sword meant to bless

the wounded with words that fall.  It was a cure


perhaps, at the perimeter, at the cusp

of where they sought to touch, a kiss,

to somewhere else the space between the gaps


to Eternity, it was their time to clasp

hands, to touch the Endless plane, all of this,

all at once fill the gaps, take hold, and grasp.





            "Light shines in the darkness for the Righteous, that are kind and merciful, and good" (Ps.122:14)


I step

ever slowly.

My eyes peer through the dense

atmosphere, deep, yet I can sense



Can't say

what all it is.

Nothing seems to stop me.

I feel that somewhere there is a light

in spite


of what

is not there, yet,

it is all so clear.  Yes,

I must be doing something right,




sure about that—

I mind my p's and q's,

pause and think before I act, and

watch out


both ways.

Listen, careful

of what I hear, discern

words that I hear and absorb them.

Let them


show me,

and I wonder . . .

this is no miracle,

always there guiding me, a voice







I look about me, clarity and light,

softness, kindness intertwines with sparks

that fly into this atmosphere.  No trite

growth of verbiage.  I know it works


in this luscious space, as I delight

where the colors flow, push back the dark.

I look about me, clarity and light

softness, kindness intertwines with sparks


ignite sensations inside me, all the bright

things, bring out the fire, raise a quark,

and yet another, combines, a flame embarks

on an adventure, body and soul in flight,


I look about me, clarity and light

softness, kindness, intertwines with sparks.





They that lack the heart to know, don't fear to ask, gather at the dust of the feet of the Sages where they might learn  (Pele Yoetz, Reason, 2)


So you don't understand.  It's too hard,

a jigsaw puzzle, pieces spread apart . . .

as on a meadow.  Butterflies

catch the scents of blossoms.  You start


just out, in the air. You rise,

flustered, confused.  Relative to your size,

a picture, a panorama.  So big

as you count, the flowers wave.  Surmise,


enter a tree, branches so thick,

catch the dust, something special.  Lick

the sweetness, another, think, drink,

and down to the field, feel the colors drunk,


learn this universe. Discover the link

between where you were, and what you bring.




Between the Lines


In matters that relate to the material world, a person might consider the purpose a person of his actions, that it might deal with the Almighty and take us to the Divine” (Pele Yoetz, The Love of God)


Each word weighs, each world takes

a step in the right direction. Feet

follow, consider thoughts, concrete,

on after the other, each side breaks


a step in the right direction. Feet

follow the next space, a reason, a break

into another dimension.  Makes

a difference beyond, where I sit


Fill the next space, a reason, breaks

the mold and looks for the next,

a difference beyond, where I sit

and reveal what's inside, make the tracks,


the mold, and look for to the meet

thoughts, consider, follow them, concrete,

and reveal the inside, make the tracks,

each word weighs, each word takes.




Nothing Added

May my heart fulfill Your laws that I will never be ashamed  (Ps. 119:80)


It's all there

in the package,

nothing too fancy.  A plain,

wrapping, not ostentatious.

The outside


The same as

the inside.  Yes,

according to the way

the Manufacturer made it,

and it works


all the time.

Every morning

I open it, lay it down,

arrange the parts as per the rules


and I go

through the day,

know what to do

where I find myself, and

never confused.  Everything's clear

before me,



no problems, and

it's fine.  It's fair, it's good.

They explain unexpected things,

yet, even so,


no matter,

it's no bother

to anyone, even me.

At the close of the day

I retire.




It Shouldn't Happen to My Worst Enemy


Palestinian violence is a justified popular uprising.  (President Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority)


So you think you're Gavrillo Princep that prowls

the streets of Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, off and running,

to look for occupiers, to show your cunning,

your mighty auto, your shiny blade, as rout

that Hatfield,  has to be neutralized.  You, McCoy


forever.  This turf is not theirs,  It's a ploy,

I came here, I dreamed to take away

What your God Almighty conquered.  Whatever I say,

as I wait for a bus, I'm cursed.  You destroy

one more cipher in your struggle.  I know why.


Your wisemen tell you how I darken the sky

with clouds of infidelity.  I blot the land,

the ladies go about shameless, don't understand,

faithless men speak heresies.  You cry

the way they hold you for hours at check points, a crime


that I remain here.  Yes, I admit the time

I spend upon this land is an unlawful act,

a valid reason, you feel to make an attack.

If you had an army it would be sublime,

you've seen it in Rome how Titus carried me off


you'd like to shatter my shop window.   Still not enough,

do what they did then, what they do to those

that don't belong, that dispute, that you who chose

your Almighty God that chose you to snuff  out the  stuff

of me.  It doesn't figure.  I always thought


Whoever made me and you is the same.  I'm taught.

I disagree with you, you know. I know, so it is

far too long , I try to make sense of this ,

yet , for some  reason I don't exist.  You wrought

a ghost on a map with a subtitle etched with a knife


and an automobile aimed at me, at my life.

Guess I'm a zombie, a Syrian fossil that's left,

a cheeky skeleton, dry bones, not quite bereft

come flesh and bone, an affront.  You strive

with shouts, and  photoshops, and crowds, a mass


opinion that reads how you suffer, a class,

malcontents oppressed by boll weevils that want a home.

As you go out with home-made weapons and roam

the streets, to take me on,  I let your blood—

I couldn't help it .  I guess it's my fault you're dead.




The Promise of Sunset

after a painting “Abstract”* by Yoram Raanan


It appears at dusk on the horizon

slowly slowly.  Falling in the sky

as wispy clouds pass.  My eyes are drawn,

it appears at dusk on the horizon,

as I attend,  engaged.  As they respond,

this mystery that repeats itself each day

it appears at dusk on the horizon

slowly slowly.  Falling in the sky


with red and gold and blue displays.  Above,

endows my mind the rest of the time plays out

the truth of what is me.  Of where I strive,

with red and gold and blue displays. Above,

me.  Projects, recurrent images that revive

a daily miracle that reveals, no doubt,

with red and gold and blue displays. Above,

endows my mind the rest of the time plays out


all through the hours as I progress.

I fill the moments with that radiance

That keeps me going, and I know I'm blessed,

all through the hours.  As I progress.

discover meanings.  As the shadows pass

into the afternoon until days end

all through the hours as I progress.

I fill the moments with that radiance


off to some other venue . . . as I spy

a faint  light in the window.  A newness begins

what I saw earlier, then, a blazing in the sky,

off to some other venue . . . as I spy

what starts again, a miracle.  I understand why—

a cycle repeats itself.  As the globe spins

off to some other venue . . . as I spy

a faint  light in the window.  A newness begins


* http://www.yoramraanan.com/dancer




Friday Night Setting Sun


“The sun sets below the trees, it departs

as we watch, the angels offer peace,

“Welcome, oh Sabbath Queen, welcome oh Sabbath Queen . . . “  (Bialik)



The routine of Creation closes out

as from the window, the sun sets

and a band of angels gathers about


spreads a gentle canopy, they caress . . .

the Sabbath Queen arrives, she comes, “Peace,

rest from your labors, this is a time to bless,


reflect upon the venues you've begun.” We never cease

to wonder, our minds traverse, look up, our eyes

see what's yet to see beyond, yet to be released,


another soul comes down, its flickers, rise,

a candle fills a special space.  All aglow,

she shows us the World to Come, tantalize


here, a taste of serenity for one day.  All of us, now

encapsulated, away, in this special place, we grow



a constellation we can't imagine, elsewhere,

a sacred precinct sheds messages. Of signs

of holiness set off from the week, we share


the gifts, as we delight.  The evening sky reminds

us where we began, a universe we create

on this day that we usher in, here we're bound,


the Sabbath Queen leaves us for the others who await

her, to offer her kindness, she commences her path

where we rest, in between, we sate


our souls.  Take the lessons, the pleasures that swath

of supplications engages our hearts.  We sing

into the evening, our aspirations and watch


the Divine that descends upon us.  It brings

a sense of warmth, a shower of compassion rings






It doesn't look like much, these sprouts they hold,

up.  What I see seemingly is the same,

in stasis in the winter air.  A game,

 they play possum, wink at me in the cold,


lazy.  They wait for the sun, the rain

to  fall, to fill them with chlorophyll.  They grow,

the roots stretch down, as the stems push from below,

together, increase.  Slowly, steadily, gain


hibernating, invigorating, pull

imperceptibly before my eyes,

nothing that I can gage, measure the size,

as these small things advance—April Fool!


they tarry here, but it is just a guise,

come Spring when I return, how high they rise.






They say there are plants that need shade to grow

reminds them of the place where they have been,

the secrets inside the seed call out open a screen

on the instructions, there to put on a show


in the garden plot.  I look up at the sky,

what lies beyond.  I consider the Plan,

the beginning of Everything, Light, Dark, and

 that all the things You Created moved and changed


as that Spirit moves me what I see

is a parallel come closer, joins, it blends

and is much alike, coalesces messages sent

similar sounding different,  spheres, they agree,


In concert, reflect Creation, sublime, sends

a message of Existence that never ends






It's another country upon a map

I draw upon a page in the future,

take a pencil let the lines reach.  There,

carefully draft the outlines, wrap


each place with imaginary scenes,

anything at all that comes to mind,

sometimes.  Perhaps a dream to remind

me of what I thought that redeems


the days that got lost.  Make up for the past,

for the errors that I made.  Recoup

the moments that fell away.  Out of the loop

onto surer shores, to be free.  At last,


maybe, in a place, reorganize.  Regroup

for a while, though I know it's not the first stop.




One  With the Elements

"The essence of a person is to serve their Creator, as if they were a Temple, as it is written, "You shall build me a Tabernacle, and I will dwell within it" (Pele Yoetz Good Conduct)


The instructions are there, I watch them

as my eyes tell my hands to move,

where to place my feet.  Engrave

in my head.  Lead out like a stem


grows, immerses, a part of me.  Learns

new patterns, a catalog, adds

items, I take to it.  So glad

and break out, renew, on a burn,


what was beyond me, ingest.

Things mix, match and become

what wasn't a part of me.  Rest


comfortably inside and impressed

as this newness settles.  The sum

of me evolves, changes.  I'm blessed.





"Small children are exempt from learning (to tear their shirts upon seeing Jerusalem).  There is no need to teach them this custom."  (Yalkut Yosef, Remembering Jerusalem)


Piles of rocks, large and small, remains

of something.  Small hands clear away

the broken pieces.  Sort them, play

what's bigger, smaller, each one piles gains

breadth and wisdom, a space to reveal


carefully compile, they feel

them, dust the sand, set them up

from memories of picture books, outcroppings,

what it was from inside out, steal

future plans, half hidden, build


what they remember, the sacred space defiled,

still they sing, and gather stones

from inside out, they start, all along . . .

who cares, whose watching.  Beguiled,

more room, count the precious pieces


how the walls encircle, creases

carefully enclose this sanctuary, rests,

they sand back, make a wish, behest

the structure they composed might release

sparks, fireworks in the air, effuse.


Piles of rocks, large and small, remains

of something. Small hands clear away

the broken pieces. Sort them, play

what's bigger, smaller, each one piles gains

breadth and wisdom, a space to reveal


carefully compile, they feel

them, dust the sand. set them up

from memories of picture books: outcroppings,

what it was from inside out: steal

future plans: half hidden: build