The morning is fragrant and urgent; you leap from the blankets, rattle bed posts, boil water, sip tea, walk the terraced gardens, and admire how the years and seeds have grown into your own private labyrinth.
You speak with the woman you love in a warm stream of words and stroke her cheek with your fingers, but she is not visible to us. The bench you share with her sinks slightly into the Earth at your end, and the Camilla tree has dropped a petal that sits between you and the other armrest.
You have not lost your way. It is we who cannot see into the distance, south across many rivers and borders to the lake where a thousand generations have bled into the birth sheet.
No one person seems to know how you escaped from the city. Some say you were helped by Muwadi who dragged you from the crater and stood you upright among the rubble. Others claim to have seen you pierced by lightning and drawn up into a cloud.
Sometimes truth is the exaggeration minus the lie. For the legend, the tales we tell our children before bed, we allow that you are the only offspring of God and disregard the impossible purity contained in such an account.
However, when the fire is coals and our descendants simmer in sleep, we place candor on our tongues and admit that you are more than that. You are the heart, the lungs, and the bladder of a strong-beating people and no single angel can contain you.
This piece first appeared in Cerise Press, Summer 2013.
Translated from the Muwadi diaries by Ibrahim Raymond
We are made of reeds and pull
the air into our lungs through them; we descend
from a long line of lamps with wicks and oil
that, from the alcoves,
illuminate the corridors between worlds.
Our habitat is filled:
with rivers, meadows, mountains, horses, antelope, and trees.
Juniper child on his knees guards a beetle in the dust.
Grandmother plants flowers and mud
crawls over our days.
Morning brings a field to fruition;
the lunar eye peers through the harvest crack.
Infant bones become oak; twisted necks feed our concave
chicken plates and knives.
Yes. Our perfection grows from a tiny seed; a breeze pushes
into the eddy that connects the houses and pueblos, carries us
swirling, glinting, minutely reverberant into evanescence.
Then we begin to flourish:
We spit our naked spirit into the well and drink.
You are invited to join the meal, to taste the callus
of our corn and continue your story.
This is the moment when we shake the leaves
and loam from our ear.
This piece first appeared in Cerise Press, Spring 2011.
I wonder if you would miss me if I toppled from the tower where I have stood so long, if I donated my body to the rocks. For months, they have promised to cure all the sick birds in my throat if only I would have the decency and velocity to receive them.
But I wonder if you would wonder where I had gone, or if you would go on your way to the baker or candle maker without a shout of surprise or a gasp of grief.
Yet know: there in the presence of stone and sand with waves slowly rinsing the red rocks clean, before the last sack of my beliefs and judgments shredded in the pulpy morning tide, I swear: I would think of you my friend and how we stretched our jaws wide to hold the world like a glorious apple between our teeth.
This piece first appeared in Ayris, September 2013.
We are a peaceful garden people
under an eggshell moon – ancestral sins
mostly scraped from our skin.
Our terrible fathers
buried in shadow – their crimes
covered in salt.
We do not fault
they carved their pride with iron
bars into stone.
A child in the sand of the garden waits
for a rose drop of dew
to free his sad lips from an innocent bondage.
Recall: towers of our history
in an unclean corner of our land.
But these relics of our devotion
must someday yield to rubble
and we’ll have a dance
of blood red bursts – of spangled verse and song
when judgment drops the final grave
over our ravings.
This piece first appeared in Off The Coast, Summer 2013.
The old savior has lost his flavor.
Somewhere, he drags his life alone along a lakeshore.
Daybreak coughs on the red rim of the mountain; ash
is cool in the fire pits.
through the gates, my vision on you (by the Elephant tree)
but my footsteps
are driven underground by a slab of sky;
my shoulder is dark bruise
My skeleton book:
in your fingers, you tear pages from my throat, the sound
rips the morning in two.
When Pilate washed his hands, you ran like rivers into lakes
and your rebirth came too late to seize me.
My stomach hosts a mob of slaves, my creeds
are lashed around my chest.
My principles are captive birds, jumpy
colorful, restless, noisy
and from their cage believe that they too
are ready to be free.
This piece first appeared in Prime Number Magazine, June 2011.