From “Baalbeck”

Sarah Riggs, translated from the French written by Etel Adnan

copyright ©2019


When no one is waiting for us
any longer, there’s
so faithful.


Broken souls are not anonymous,
no more than the geometry
reserved for my naked feet.


There are moments when
the past ceases to be a form
of the present.
Rain and tears
Look alike.


Syria has always been the mother
of chaos. A land parallel to
all the others. In the epiphany
of a sun to come,

The olive tree in Delphi,
next to the temple of Sikiyon,
remembers the oracle
saying that

somewhere in the plain linking
the Red Sea to the Dead Sea,
music will
displace the sky.

Ruins are relics.
The lineage being of little importance, we’re related to them.

The Lives of the Alchemists

Charles Simic

copyright ©2004

The great labor was always to efface oneself,
Reappear as something entirely different:
The pillow of a young woman in love,
A ball of lint pretending to be a spider.

Black boredoms of rainy country nights
Thumbing the writings of illustrious adepts
Offering advice on how to proceed with the transmutation
Of a figment of time into eternity.
The true master, one of them counseled,
Needs a hundred years to perfect his art.

In the meantime, the small arcana of the frying pan,
The smell of olive oil and garlic wafting
From room to empty room, the black cat
Rubbing herself against your bare leg
While you shuffle toward the distant light
And the tinkle of glasses in the kitchen.

January 1, Dawn

Ani Gjika, translated from the Albanian written by Luljeta Lleshanaku

copyright ©2018

After the celebrations,
people, TV channels, telephones,
the year’s recently corrected digit
finally fall asleep.

Between the final night and the first dawn
a jagged piece of sky
as if viewed from the open mouth of a whale.
Inside her belly and inside the belly of time,
there’s no point worrying.
You glide gently along. She knows her course.
Inside her, you are digested slowly, painlessly.

And if you’re lucky, like Jonah,
at some point she’ll spit you out on dry land
along with heaps of inorganic waste.

Everything sleeps. A sweet hypothermic sleep.
But those few still awake
might hear the melancholy creaking of a wheelbarrow,
someone stealing stones from a ruin
to build new walls just a few feet away.”

From “Skinned Alive”

Donald Nicholson-Smith, translated from the French written by Abdellatif Laâbi

copyright ©2016

How easy the inquisitor’s questions are! Compare them, he says, with the questions I sometimes dare not ask myself:
What hidden tribe gave you gangrene?
Are you utterly untainted by power?
Have you broken all the mirrors?
From what weaknesses do you draw your strength?
What taboos govern your rectitude?
Why do you pay lip service to the scope of your ignorance?
Do you not sometimes settle for a mere approximation of what you really wanted to say? Are you not sometimes annoyed by your own most righteous passions? Do you know not sometimes tend to curse your fine reasons for living?
Are you not a little prone to play the martyr?

From Homer: War Music

Christopher Logue

copyright ©2001

Ever since men began in time, time and
Time again they met in parliaments,
Where, in due turn, letting the next man speak,
With mouthfuls of soft air they tried to stop
Themselves from ravening their talking throats;
Hoping enunciated airs would fall
With verisimiltitude in different minds,
And bring some concord to those minds; only soft air
Between the hatred human animals
Monotonously bear towards themselves.
No work was more regarded in our times,
And nothing failed so often. Knowing this,
The army came to hear Achilles say;
‘Pax., Agamemnon.’ And Agamemnon’s: ‘Pax.’

From “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings”

Joy Harjo

copyright ©2015


Recognize whose lands these are on which we stand.
Ask the deer, turtle, and the crane.
Make sure the spirits of these lands are respected and treated with goodwill.
The land is a being who remembers everything.
You will have to answer to your children, and their children, and theirs—
The red shimmer of remembering will compel you up the night to walk the perimeter of truth for understanding.
As I brushed my hair over the hotel sink to get ready I heard:
By listening we will understand who we are in this holy realm of words.
Do not parade, pleased with yourself.
You must speak in the language of justice.

Digressive Parenthesis

Hoa Nguyen

copyright ©2016

Make heart-shaped cakes
for the Queen of Heaven

Things that make you cry:
Geode stone pulse

That plant named wizard’s herb
When the state of Michigan sells

“pristine treaty-protected land”
to make a limestone mine

I dreamt the spider crossed
my eye and I crushed it

into my eye     Why is the first
day the hardest day?     The city

susurrus     Are us     especially
if you get to keep the money


Paul Muldoon

copyright ©2002

The lion stretched like a sandstone lion on a sandstone slab
of a bridge with one fixture, a gaslight,
looks up from his nicotine-worried forepaw
with the very same air my father, Patrick,
had when the results came back from the lab, that air of anguish-awe
that comes with the realization of just how slight
the chances are of anything doing the trick

as the sun goes down over Ballyknick and Ballymacnab
and a black-winged angel takes flight

The black-winged angel leaning over the sandstone parapet
of the bridge wears a business suit, dark gray. His hair is slick with pomade.
He turns away as my mother, Brigid,
turned away from not only her sandstone pet
but any concession being made.
The black-winged angel sets her face to the unbending last ray
of evening and meets rigid with rigid

as the sun goes down over Lisnagat and Listamlet
and Clonmore and Clintyclay.

Feckless as he was feckless, as likely as her to be in a foofaraw,
I have it in me to absolutely rant and rail while, for fear of the backlash,
absolutely renounce
the idea of holding anything that might be construed as an opinion.
The lion still looks back to his raw
knuckle and sighs for the possibility that an ounce
of Walnut Plug might shape up from the ash
The angel still threatens to abandon us with a single flick of her pinion

as the sun goes down over Lislasly and Lissaraw
and Derrytrasna and Derrymacash

How she read

Chantal Gibson

copyright ©2019

Oh, how she read this. Girl
beloved daughter of daughters
blood, kin, and kind

sagacious grammarian
post-fly phoneticist

every syllable she say be sapphires

Oh, how she read that Girl
beloved daughter of daughters
blood, kin, and kind

sassy semiotician
post-def decoder

every book she crack parts oceans,
sends waves rushing back to their shores

every page she turn sets free a caged bird,
whose wings are spread and ready for flight

Oh, how she read, this Girl
beloved daughter of daughters
blood, kin, and kind,

post-dope dissenter
mos-bomb seditionist

every word she speak be a teeth-sucking act of resistance

every word she write be a battle cry

every tap of her pen be the beat of an ancestor’s drum