Books - Every Seed of the Pomegranate
Every Seed of the Pomegranate
My recent book is co-translated with Abbas Kadhim from the Arabic poems of Adnan al-Sayegh
t's available from the Iraqi Arts Council of London.
My second book is available through Tebot Bach,
Photo: Sama Raena Alshaibi
My first book is available from
Here are some poems from the book:
Moon’s half hidden in the pocket
of the sky. Persimmons hard globes
won’t ripen this year, maybe next.
Stars, slurred by clouds, semaphore
the night. The hose I’m spraying
the night-blooming jasmine with
bobs like a charmed snake.
Everything’s on an even keel.
I wish you could be here with me--
wish everyone could be. A gunshot
erupts, someone celebrating
a birth or a death, and I’m falling
out of this sky—the briefest star.
During the day my feet totter,
in the night I stride over hills.
Day and night are divided equally--
between the two I get as much as I lose.
Like a swimmer caught mid-stroke, your arm’s
flung over your head, mouth open in sleep.
It makes me unaccountably tender
to see you so nakedly, unabashedly present.
You bring back a stray image or this-then-this
account of where you’ve been traveling.
There’s a moment in Chris Marker’s La Jetée,
when the narrator watches his lover sleep--
all in caught snapshots—overlaid images
dissolving so it seems the woman turns,
eyelids flutter, she opens them, looks at you.
Looks, and—in her smiling—lets you look.
When chronic fatigue seized up all my ways
of moving in the world, I lived behind gauze.
Idle in bed all day. Eucalyptus changed colors
more than I changed clothes.
Often I’d wake under your gaze.
It was the way I let you in.
High up in the snow-patched
Sierra foothills I rode fevered sleep
to a field of black stars on a white bed--
the stirred ashes of my fire
struck the snow, dying
in tiny puffs of steam.
I had no spoon, so burned
my fingers in sweet hot mash,
licked them for relief,
buried them in snow.
Waking, my throat was raw as unspun wool.
Even tea water you brought me scratched.
I began mapping the smallest
mountains, courting the waft
and weave of cotton. Knowing less,
but knowing it better.
Flopping into my father’s arms after the drive home
from the fireworks I struggled not to grin,
wanting only to be awake to the tenderness
he’d give me if I was really asleep.
I was the youngest, so first chosen.
In bed, I could still smell the leaves of his cigar.
In adolescence I came upon my mother,
a book tented across her chest, head crooked
against shoulder on the screened-in porch.
I took the opposite chair and settled in
to see who she was.
Who she’d wake to be.
Up at night I met my brother in the hallway.
He lifted the lid on the hamper and peed.
I kept asking:
Marc, what are you doing? Marc.
He pushed past me, mumbled:
I’m not even late.
Cows can sleep while standing or while lying down
but they cannot experience REM sleep while standing.
If deprived of dream sleep long enough
they will collapse in order to reach it.
I step up onto the air, as if on an unseen stair.
Slowly, tentatively, I feel my way upward,
as if climbing to a dark attic, until I’m
even with the rooftop and shout out--
plunge down twenty feet, arms cartwheeling,
arrest myself by sheer force of will.
I won’t let this end, won’t wake
until I master what I’ve been given.
I’m nothing but tired.
Moon, a fingernail cut to the quick.
A blank television regards me.
The dog chases its dream.
Far away the refrigerator
sings to itself.
I imagine bending over the closed eyes
of sleepers everywhere.
Hard breathing of a man dying of AIDS.
Body emaciated as a tent.
Fisherman flopped over his rudder-handle.
A man who holds the hand of his sleeping love.
Frames flicker over the face of a projectionist.
A coiled snake I skirt while hiking.
Butcher, blood beneath his nails.
Old man at a service, snoring.
goddess of compassion, reclines on her hand,
a tiny Buddha hidden in the headdress.
She’s carved from camphor—traces of brilliant paint
in the robe’s creases and the corners of her eyes.
The maples turn over their hands
outside the hospital window.
I watch your pupils play across
your closed eyes, our baby on my lap.
Through the fuzzy peach-like hair
I see his blood-beats throb.
In attending to other’s sleep
I enter into a holy place.
Traveling in China we push
whatever beds we’re given
together for safety. Find, each morning,
where the rolling bodies have come to rest.
Early morning in
we pass a truck
loaded with zig-zag striped watermelon,
the two sleeping men in the cab, mouths open,
lean into each other like lovers.
My son wakes and says:
You can sit here
but don’t talk, I’m finishing a dream.
A few minutes later he starts to sing:
The day I died—yesterday evening,
tomorrow’s morning, today’s afternoon--
The day I died I was born.
The Talmud says you may not even move
a dying person’s arms if that would shorten his life.
Watching my girl sleep--
stray hairs riding breaths
made ragged by pneumonia--
I ask that I never hear her last.
Hitchhiking through Europe I slept
in graveyards where no one bothered.
Valuables were kicked by my feet
at the bottom of the sleeping bag.
Listened to the grass sharpen its knives.
Chirr of insects knocked about by the wind.
Now I walk the halls of this house
at night and lean over crib or bed
to listen to each of my loves breathing.
Attending—a form of prayer.
You’re beside me almost every night.
Be here when I wake.
No need to invent
a language, enough to learn
the one I’m given.
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