Normal by Nathaniel Gutman


Hungry, Dad, she asked when she picked me up at the airport.
They spoiled me with an upgrade on Lufthansa,
polite, reserved flight attendants,
a chef with a Toque Blanche, inspecting a tiny guinea fowl breast,
carefully turning it skin-side down.
Hungry, I said.

She took me for pizza at a beachfront Tel Aviv restaurant.
Embraced by steamy air mixed with Mediterranean breeze,
I was instantly home.

Growing up here everything was crazy,
good-crazy but crazy,
and I always dreamt it would one day be normal.
I looked around, noisy, laughing, young people,
cool hair, designer t-shirts, loud music.
Is it finally a bit normal? I asked.

The war broke out the next morning,
a siren sent us to her saferoom.
We’re good here, she said,
even if there’s a chemical weapon attack,
except if it’s a direct hit.
Then, on TV, we saw the first images,
kids in the desert music festival
slaughtered by Hamas terrorists.

For a moment it looked almost normal, I said.
Looked, she responded.


Nathaniel Gutman is a filmmaker who has directed and/or written over 30 theatrical/TV movies and documentaries internationally, including award-winning Children’s Island (BBC, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel), Witness in the Warzone (with Christopher Walken), Linda (from the novella by John D. MacDonald; with Virginia Madsen). His poetry has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Tiferet Journal, Pangyrus, LitMag, Constellations, The American Journal of Poetry.

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