Gheith Al-Amine: Two Poems

James Flynn, UV reactive acrylic on panel, 2019. Source: insidenola.org

SHAMSUDDIN OF THE ULTRAVIOLET

Mohammad Shamsuddin left the blue planet
after he played Death for a long time,
thinking he’d fooled it for years.

At the demise of every year,
he would stall Azriel
by offerings cut off his living flesh.

Seven years went by,
and still he stalled the angel.

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Maged Zaher: Five Untitled Poems

Maged Zaher by Youssef Rakha, Oldish Cafe, 12 August 2021

*

To Youssef Rakha

Revolution is a brand

Come again in proper clothes

And say that you love me

Do this before I die

.

*

My body is good for figure drawing

It is dark enough

And it has unusual curves

I’ve never used the word “adhesion” in my poems

I am tired

I am actually dead

But having dinner

I don’t exist here

I arrived earlier

To have coffee

And read literature

Early on

I loved everyone

I also

Hated myself

The good part

Is that all of us will perish

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Gheith Al-Amine: 11

A photograph of a photograph of Bernard Pivot (centre) at a family gathering in the 1980s. Source: Wikipedia

1. Late letter to Bernard Pivot

Back in the day,

three princes of the word

Mohammad Choukri, Charles Bukowski and Marc-Edouard Nabe

graced your show on three separate occasions.

 

Before a live audience, along with mediocrities

you collectively scorned and bullied Choukri,

whose magnificent retaliation framed your pettiness in a flash.

You disdained and pushed Bukowski out of your set

for legendarily being himself: a celestial drunk.

And with the help of half-witted guests you demonized the young and fresh Nabe

for being brilliantly talented, sharp-tongued, with tons of integrity.

 

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Robin Moger Translates 1997 Youssef Rakha

Youssef Rakha, Eagle Shadow, 2021

My Heart on the Table

I was not born on the mountaintops. but from the first the sea was my destination. wrestling the ghosts which pursue me was my singular work. exemplary. no, sadly. no, I was not born upon the mountaintops. and my childhood was without gardens. When I let my ghosts drift away to distant lands. I found night at my bedroom window. and I did not stop. until I grew tired of watching the stars. the day I lost my innocence in a whirlpool of light. and hated the sight of my city by day. I had to do something with myself. took time as my enemy before I knew what it was. and became used to sitting on the riverbank. watching the water as it ran on its way. caring nothing for associations of place. I learned to walk in streets that remained nameless. at least to me.

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Youssef Rakha Translates Sargon Boulus, Again

Butterfly Dream

The butterfly that flies as if
tied by an invisible thread to paradise
almost brushed my chin while I sat in the garden
drinking my first coffee
shaking last night’s nightmares out of my head
lolling in the sun
I saw it drift over the wooden fence
like a dream or a prayer, what was
only yesterday a caterpillar
locked up in its tight cocoon.

Sara Elkamel: Two Poems

Alfred Wallis, St. Ives, 1928. Source: tate.org.uk

[Architecture]

To build something together one last time
there are so many questions,
like who would live there,
and if no one, why build it?

In our panic we make a house
that looks like a boat,
which reminds me of dreaming
both of us were angels, sleeping at sea.

When we lay the boat down
in the cemetery of love,
we squat over one of its three windows,
and wave to ourselves through the glass.

 

 

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K. Eltinaé: wasiya

Rashid Diab, Out of Focus, 2015. Source: artauctioneastafrica.com/

How long is a life avoiding the beach? believing God spoke through my father some found seashell pushed off a shelf I cannot bury. I’d like to think there are aisles of men praying somewhere once I’m gone/that their tongues wrap around where I kept warm like a turban woven in prayer by strangers/that I am not found stiff/half hanging off a hotel bed under a phrasebook in another useless language/I hope I go dreaming in Arabic/because love there sounds like the wind passes through every vowel/somewhere buried in my voice there is asphalt singing as brothers build rooms for one another/I find new corners in case I come back/everyone gets a duaa to float across the lake and watch disappear/this is mine.

 


K. Eltinaé is a Sudanese poet of Nubian descent. His work has appeared in World Literature Today, The African American Review and About Place Journal, among others. He can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Tọ́pẹ́ Salaudeen-Adégòkè: To Hypothesize Like E C Catalan

Head of the wife of an Ooni, the traditional ruler of the ancient Yoruba city of Ile-Ife, 1930s. Source: 1stdibs.com

(For Onnie)

 

I have tried to count our minted coins:

 

They are Z+ of integers slipping through mind

Like a money changer sans numismatic head.

Perhaps I am a failed Pythagorean

Perhaps I am a failed mathematicist

That I have always been all my life.

 

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Kyla Houbolt: Two Prose Poems

Martin Roth, from “i grew grass on rugs in a castle”, 2012/19. Source: martinroth.at

Charity

the goat has eaten all the grass he can reach on his short tether. the ground around him is bare. he kicks up roots and gnaws on those. he has dug himself into a hole. his tether is a metal chain. he tries to bite into it.

the grass beyond his reach is tall and lush and ripe green. the child tries to yank up the grass but its grip on the ground is too strong. inside, on the wall, is a rusty sword. the child remembers about it, runs inside, climbs on a stool and lifts it down. it is heavy but not too heavy.

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ML Kejera: Dash Thompson and the 21st Century Machine

Frida Kahlo, “The Suicide of Dorothy Hale”, 1938. Source: wikiart.org

for Stan Lee

I

In Which we Meet the Suicidal God

As silence booms in a dark room whose only light

is the dying kind radiating off a dying laptop,

Dave Daggert, a desolate, destitute young man,

just days from drowsing off at his own college graduation,

stirs what his dealer calls Dragon’s blood

into his glass of Jack Daniel’s and dry gin.

Soon, he thinks: my past-sins and would-be failures will

be flushed into the bin. Excusing his confusing of

toilets and trash cans, we must be patient with young,

desperate Dave for he knows not what lies in store for him.

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Alexander Booth: from “Insulae”

Harry Gruyaert, Tokyo, 1996. Source: magnumphotos.com

At least one of the panes in the warped and brittle frame was cracked enough to need a newspaper. You never bothered to replace it. From the desk, you looked across a small patch of gravel at another rowhouse, another upstairs window. Sometimes, a face would appear between the curtains, then vanish. You didn’t know it, but just a few years before a poet had died just a few doors up the street. The Greek Revival is brittle, and brick. The room is yellow and small and has a ceiling fan. On the wall, there’s a thriftstore reproduction of Goya’s little boy in red with all his birds and cats, next to him, a postcard of a coffin.

The Great Erasure: Two Hermes Poems Translated by Robin Moger

Julian Schnabel, “Anh in a Spanish Landscape”, 1988. Source: thebroad.org

an authentic corruption

There is a corruption as old as being. We can see it in all things. Say, in language: each word a holed ship leaking meaning as it goes down. And in vision: between picturing and the picture a missing link continually dilating until it swallows both. There is an authentic corruption.

In fractal geometry we are able to measure. This is the miracle. Also, the impossibility of measuring. This is the catastrophe.

The great erasure which is happening now in the world is the work of souvenir collectors. The souvenir being the most valuable thing there is. It is the hardest currency. And the collectors think: it must not be left to the masses.

 

 

 

 

we are living the greatest loss

in history

a common loss

a common loss of memory

 

 

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Omar Sakr: On Belonging to a Country that Cannot Keep its Children

Hassan Ammar (AFP), Beirut, 19 October, 2019. Source: off-guardian.org

 

after & for Ghassan Hage

 

The day is forecast as catastrophic. Heat

strangles the sky. It bulges, a rotten purple.

Earlier, an old Greek and a friend unexpected

slipped into my sleeping throat to see

why I bulged, rotting within: a history

believed in, threatens to become faith

in a future―didn’t anyone tell you

never to eat a seed? Oh it grows, it grows.

You must lose this weight to be at ease.

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Shaimaa Abdelkarim: Two Poems

Anna Boyiazis, from “Finding Freedom in the Water”, Zanizibar, 2018. Source: lifestyle.luxusni-bydleni-praha.com

 

Tremolo Provocateur

 

untuned     time

those improvised lines

unearthed tragedies

awaited

 

agency is someone else’s fortune

when all they see

genres of what we be

عيون ترسم واقعا لتلوم ما لم يكن

ويغدو الآخر     في خيال مقتبس

 

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Alexander Booth: from “Insulae”

Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Venice, 2003. Source: magnumphotos.com

On a major thoroughfare between a porn theatre and a filling station, it was just past the central cemetery and the bridge over the railway lines. A young communist lived in the room across from yours. He worked in a hotel. You had no job and no prospects but, for the moment, didn’t care. You’d sit together at the brittle table in the kitchen, all dark browns and orange, smoking, and listening to cassettes of sixties pop tunes, with small cups of coffee, now and again a beer. You had a couple of books and some traveler’s checks. Day after day you’d wander the sunburnt city, surprised, over and over again, at how often you got lost.

Bola Opaleke: Three Poems

Nun raising Ra, from Book of the Dead of Anhai, BC 1050. Source: Wikipedia

 

A metaphor for darkness

 

A people seized the sun, somewhere 

in Africa. They sprinkle it into the sea

& there, let it simmer into ordinary sizzles,

coiled with bones of broken men; 

burnt men who, at first, refused to be boiled. 

The sweat & the green tears of cuffed women,

at dawn, rise & roar into different images

not known to the purple sky above. It becomes

Niger & Nile. So it seems: the sun that left never left.

 

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Akpa Arinzechukwu: Three Poems

Riley Montana by Chris Colls, W Magazine. Source: wmagazine.com

riley montana slaps the runway

behind the scene it is 30°C

the same temperature a body doesn’t need

to start decomposing—

the body sashays away in a blue blazer

catwalks to a stop in a dirndl

hundred irises of a palazzo

& when the body stops it stops only

to let the world have a view of itself through the bow-bridge of legs

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Ogada: Two Poems

Cyrus Kabiru (SMAC Gallery), from “C-Stunners”. Source: weareafricatravel.com


let me remember you

 

we mold differently,

teenage-fly hearts,

with phone calls we don’t want to end

what we don’t know how to do,

is walk away

 

i have known you

for introducing me to nature trails,

and each tickle of a touch

evokes the treks shared

 

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Petero Kalulé: 3 ear etudes*

Jennifer Kincaid, Digital 3D model of the human cochlea. Source: indigo.uic.edu

 

Cochlea

 

if the kernel of

sound is quiver,

 

the ear shall l-

oose te­ther,  &

 

knell itself  in

echo

of whether whether

wither w

here:

 

*the ear is a kind of leaf

 

 

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