archives spring 2009




The road and the house love me,
the living and the dead,
and a red clay jug at home
loved by water.
The neighbor loves me,
the field, the threshing floor, and fire.
Toiling arms love me
glad for the world, and gladdening.
And tatters of my brother scattered about,
torn from his wilted chest
hidden by wheat spikes and season,
a carnelian from which blood shies away.
He was the god of love as long as I lived.
What will love do, if I too am gone?



The story of ghosts in our house,
a horizon that crosses our lips
hidden by plow and threshing floor.

In it
is our clay oven and our journeys,
our dream of the unknown.

From it
we leap to one universe after another,
and fly one generation after the next.


To a Soothsayer

Her eyebrows are bells that ring
my unknown fate,
my now and my apprehension,
and all that I have been.

She looks and the signs
light up like lanterns
as if she’d clung
to time’s eyelashes.
In morning
or under cloud or wind,
in ease or in distress,
she carries the knot of every epoch.

She holds my fingers and stares
and ponders,
rummages through caves,
unearths alphabets.

Won’t you laugh, won’t your frown?
Won’t your whisper?
This is my hand, take it,
take my tomorrow.
Divine, improvise
and whisper, and beware
not to speak out loud.



When will I see
that I have an untamable east
that invents the sun,
and I that have a west,
and wherever I look
the world is my field of play,
love and pride my very arms.
My heart stands taut with rebellion,
its pulse keeps time for time.



Bells on our eyelashes
and the death throes of words,
and I among fields of speech
a knight on a horse made of dirt.
My lung is my poetry, my eyes a book,
and I under the skin of words
on the beaming banks of foam,
a poet who sang and died
leaving this singed elegy
before the faces of poets,
for the birds, for the edges of sky.  bug


Adonis was born Ali Ahmad Said in Kassabeen, Syria, in 1930. He adopted the name Adonis when he was 17. He founded the progressive poetry journals Sh’ir and Muwaqaf. He is an internationally renowned poet, essayist, and theoretician of poetics and is considered to be among the most important modern Arab poets. He has written over twenty books in his native Arabic and several of his poetry collections have been translated into English.

Khaled Mattawa is the author of three books of poetry, Amorisco (Ausable Press, 2008)  Zodiac of Echoes (Ausable Press, 2003), and Ismailia Eclipse (Sheep Meadow Press, 1996). He has translated many books of contemporary Arab poetry and co-edited two anthologies of Arab American literature. Mattawa has been award the PEN award for literary translation, a Guggenheim fellowship, the Alfred Hodder fellowship from Princeton University, an NEA translation grant, and two Pushcart prizes. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Antioch Review, Best American Poetry, and many other journals. Mattawa was born in Libya and came to the United States in his teens.