Conor Bracken Translates the late Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine: from “Scorpionic Sun”

Mars, Aries and Scorpio from the Wellcome Collection’s Persian Manuscript 373. Source:




They got to know each other in Paris between two smoking faces which it was said were fired blanks. The machine guns launched black and yellow texts onto the café terraces. Ancestral huts and migraines crucified the gossiping sun of a late autumn in which convalescents were stretching out electrified limbs. One spoke adroitly about these rhymes bees of inconsistent blondeness. They weren’t listening or pretended not to hear. In their navel rooted the reign of a sphecoid wasp-star which itched throughout the discussion. They were anxious to go home however their legs had become the sole emblem of a museum of the nearby desert. They broke their ribs several times in the middle of the terrace. At a neighboring table the devil applied his makeup. At that very moment a tom-tom unleashed a drumbeat inside their stomachs and inexhaustible molecules. In their left lung Zodiac howled; and Time, whom one never meant to interrupt, plummeted incontinent and sat on their sentences, chewing them like birdshit. Time fled past the trashcans. Zodiac partied hard with long and bloody fireflies.





you corner me against the white wall of legends and against

the forced flight of the falcon whose beak accuses the saharan’s face

in the midst of a sheep stampede

the girls smelled porphyry exploding from our grottos

the rifle measured the cloud from the riot’s fires

and spat

the monstrous name of a chewed-up king

rust and sardines in this desert where prayer

is drinking

the cruel mouth itself

the drum of the sky yelled at every ensign

and the woman still damp with the complicit dawn

with apple trees and treasons

with gray cobras

with maroon business and bursts of woodchips split down

to the trunk

whistled in the strangeness of a throne made out of centipedes


The head of the other had spurted out of the africa on her back.


gentle the myth that spurs me

gentle this traffic of inextricable salts

and this Gale of evils and tongues

my mother never knew handles so rich

in whirlwinds of birds boring into my skin

softly this frozen head and these regurgitated salvos

in the rocky ditch of my life

of my hand tangible and gentle this present century

the straightforward concupiscence of roses and the abyss

in which is scrubbing itself clean

this unfinished people


The voice had attracted gawkers who stood like scorpions ready to strike. But they weren’t even watching. They were whipping the cats of delirium. We had dug them a nice grave inside their solemn mucus in which the unerased and not at all affected devil pissed after his protoplasmic orgies. We went door to door. Everyone had the right to one blow of the truncheon. We decreed a cold war ramadan. Salvation went all the way to God the Innumerable thrown into the dusty attic like so many planks and bent nails. We taxed them like spell-casters. They hadn’t yanked on the king’s tail. We blurred them. They were born again from their bitumen. We barbarized them. But they civilized the incantations and carried high the carcass of the manitous of unincorporated factories and stations. We tried to fool them. They didn’t have a coach to rent. We arranged them one behind the other like pouting children. They leapt at the throats of precepts and silenced them. Elsewhere, we tied very tight ties. We waited for the true billboard to finish bagging heaven. Money slit throats in the slums. We confirmed the customs fee was not a toll. We puffed up, scattered brains, ratfinked and clinked drinks. We were blue-yellow-green.



this vulgar science

gentle for the couscous of your thunder

which vomits in future entrails

gentle this lagoon

gentle parrot

stud farm of renewed sales and paling jaundice

end ending the obstacles

and the abased order of skewed legends

finishes off your ink of roses


The convoy of delirium went farther. We saw shell casings in the brook. What puddle below me?


I am this lair and not your uvula

swayed by the involuntary shudders of coitus

and spare change

here’s an asphyxia doubled by sulfuric asthma

and your audience

broken if not crisscrossed

by sluices and debits


The Headquarters was erected in the middle of the slog. A peacock protested this ravenous war. We say LAUGH.


from a grimace

from a flint

from a fire in which your dreams are parapoems

from a prowler

from an acolyte

and from complication over everything

comes the silence in your urns

from a trumpet

arranged in the mad window

and how not to truncate these geometries

I unchain them

from an epileptic



we want a blank screen

we want a tree beyond ourselves

this season shucks itself and finds our true faces again

and your soapwort heads

vomit-covered muzzles


oh our pricetagged heads our necks without axis

our poppies by these meadows of children

and this rare perverted sweating mosque

the calamitous cricket of curare africas

from a simple game of echoes rising again and billowing

when you detach the iguana’s rings

from an afternoon turned toward the moons

of a clairvoyant disorder

of a fig

by this Congo cheated of lymphic stars

of mistaken knocks

of a neverending anguish

we watch you in the irises of an ill laugh

but here are some zigzags a nubile sorcery


my gallows nocturne

boo king by the staircase of absence and Evil

and your laughable nettles

which the cyclone of my songbird eyes

that doesn’t fear the snares in yours

will soon hurl over the hedges of vice


Scorpionic Sun appeared with Cleveland State University Poetry Center last month