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from the January 2004 issue

An Alphabetical Formation


You're not beginning . . .

It's an eternity, you know . . .

I mean, the ever-after, you know

No matter, then.

Raise your cavalry

But don't set out for the horizon,

Or the sea . . . or the soil

lines for beginnings,

finish me off on a wire.

	You are not beginning now,

watch out . . .

              anyone who begins is deceived


We haven't yet finished the elegy for the century,

                  We haven't explained blood,

                  flowing from poetry,

or a tear from prose,

and what of glories,

                  to see through them just ourselves,

and in ourselves, only us  . . .

Do the dead epitomize the living?

Well, then . . . does captivity test the

wings a bird uses to 

                  swoop  down freely,

or does it discover significance far

                  from their twin meaning?


That's a mirror,

	and this a woman,

the woman rises . . . 

So let the mirror be shattered, and the ruler, 

	 and the secret between them

The woman rises . . .

	to see the before and the after 

from the inside and the outside

we' ve obscured the sky,

	and performed ablutions at dawn,

then prayed at its knee until noon

the sultans passed by without their dreams,

they were dragging coffins

we call thrones!

Do you really see? . . . we ask ourselves

and how is it they've triumphed?

Only defeats have been victorious


The beginning of wine is the shadow . . .

	  And it is not content with the volcano,

              we've raked the languages of serenity,

              to raise a glass

the naked trees . . . our remains

for he who gathers enough

of the silence that extinguishes an ember

              we no longer grasp, we' ve returned

              and raked letters

              whose eyes have forsaken sorrow,

for a glorious silence

               they have stabbed its isolations . . . 

the silence indicts armies

and judges and turncoats . . . and titles . . . 

It does not forget . . . a summons from your master's resolutions,

               or from the binding of the threads that remind.


Oblivious to design, this tomorrow is baffled by intent

and the yesterday that moans 

from our first humanity.

Rather, baffled by our first blood,

for this I search the night

for a new master

                 sowing wheat with his palms,

                 singing from our songs,

                 and quenching his thirst from our casks

                 and if fury remains, then an invasion is



A gift is my rib

And my spirit a brown horse

And memory my pavilion

For to whom do I leave my belongings?

And to whom do I entrust my desire

For a mirage that doesn't betray its master

                one day as the capitals 

                have betrayed their inhabitants


Has he finished . . . ?

No . . . 

He does not know this deed,

and doesn't accept its definitions,

it embarks within us

and if he arrives to shore,

he says:  Apologize to it for me.

	 Around me is a vaster blueness

	 out of your dreams

	 Imru al-Qays 

		was straying from it

		and so, it strayed from him.

The poet has finished and as for the poetry . . .

We say no . . . 

And we say: we'll try.

March 7, 1992

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