Vendors chant one shekel!  echad!

while I devour peppers with my eyes,

all fresh greens and reds lined up.


In Shouk HaCarmel the food is alive,

almonds and cashews topped

with burlap hats sing a cappela to the figs,

while the saffron and paprika plead,

            Be mine to the Zatar. 


The slush of Hebrew and English,

the tight stalls stuffed with metal lipsticks

drive me to need a quick fix. I stop for a falafel

stuffed inside a pita, smothered in baharat.


The owner of the stand stares,

his eyes dark, focused, as if living

inside a sacred text. I turn to push

my way out of the shouk, he yells,

Madame, you forget, reaches out

to hand me a sack of hot chips,  

I turn and bow,  Al Salam, Al Salam.

Mare Leonard

Mare Leonard lives in an old school house overlooking The Rondout Creek.  Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches  through the Institute for Writing and Thinking and the MAT program at Bard College. She has published four chapbooks of poetry and a new one, The Dark Inside the Hooded Coat will be published shortly at Finishing Line Press. 







  1. Mare, I love the weave of senses you've offered us in this poem, and the title, 'Inside' is a wonderful play on the inner workings of our minds related to food, to comfort, to anonymity meeting with conversation and preconceived notions. Your wonderful layers reflect the substance I've come away with in this poem - peace and love! Crystal

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