Monday, June 1, 2009

Sabra's Last Stand

sabra, the defender of israelHere's a poem. I wrote it half-jokingly as a pitch for Marvel, recasting Sabra (who started showing up as the "Defender of Israel" in the '80s) as a baal teshuva -- or, at least, someone who was playing with the idea of becoming religious. My friend Nicole had just gotten a job as an editor at Marvel, and she was coming to my show, and I'd always wanted to write Sabra. So then I tried to.


Sabra the Jewish superhero
hides behind a tree
when changing
into costume,

modesty taking precedence
over the instinctive urge
to protect and preserve

Or to pull away her shirt
revealing the bright blue
Star of David
of vengeance
splashed across her chest

In the '80s, she saved
bales of Israelis from their graves
every day

Since then, business has gotten slow
confusion about foreign policy
a canceled comic book,
and she took so much shit about
who she’s supposed
to save.

You’d think
the Second Intifada would be good
for business as a hero,
but no -—

Saving Palestinians makes Israelis mad
Saving Israelis makes Palestinians mad

And the day she saved that
suicide bomber,
sent his TNT careening
into the sea

Sabra got told off enough
to send her into
an early retirement.

After singlehandedly launching
the Jewish look into vogue
ten years ago
girls got reverse nose jobs
Sabra became
a teenage heartthrob

Her uniform sent yeshiva boys
into enjoyable pangs
of premature puberty

Today she lays in bed
not in the mood for anything
except complaining to G-d
and so she does

She picks up a prayerbook
yells the first blessing
like a lightning bolt

yells the afternoon prayers
yells the evening prayers
yells the Sabbath prayers

and she doesn’t stop till
the traveler’s prayer
in the back of the book.

When she’s done,
Sabra takes her sewing machine
makes her cape into a skirt
(it was always bulky, anyway)

slips on her arm-covering gloves
and flies through the night
saying to herself, I fought Magneto
and my worst enemy
is still me


She swoops down
with power like a shofar
and grace like the cedars of Lebanon

whispers a prayer
under her breath
with every blow

saves every damn person in danger
whether they want to be or not

And she doesn’t stop
until Shabbos.

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