Kunwar Narain

Ibn Battuta
Moroccan 1304 – 1369

 

Who are these people, impaled on sharp bamboo poles,
blood spurting from their bodies?
Marvels Ibn Battuta in the forests of Ma’bar.

So dark even by day,
or is the Sultan blind?
I catch a glimpse through his blind eyes
of a page of history,
flapping in the pale light of torches:
in this barbarous ritual,
who are these half-dead women and children,
their hands and feet ripped apart
one by one from their frail bodies?
Are they infidels or humans?
Who are these around me
that keep on drinking
despite the laws of sharia?

There is no one. There is nothing.
It’s all a bad dream.
None of this is happening today.
It was all a very long time ago—
the era of prehistoric beats of prey:
I am not a witness to it… Sultan,
allow me to leave;
it is time for my prayers.

Eternity Comes Down on the Side of Love

We present this work in honor of Morocco’s Proclamation of Independence.

Abdelmajid Benjelloun
Moroccan
b. 1944

 

I don’t love myself although I am my closest neighbor.

The image of a man leaping on the Moon is no more extraordinary than the immobile stone.

This man is ill. His illness is social. His illness is called hate. He lives, but takes care of himself by hating others.

This comic copies someone who doesn’t exist.

It’s the barque shows the waves in the sea.

Peace is not for export, war is.

There are curtesies rendered for lack for nobleness.

She brings me a glass of thirst. She drinks it with me.

My hands complete, O wonder, the stone in her breasts!

Rock drawings await me at a young girl’s. I must copy them onto my life. Whether she knows it or not.

Steps, sparks on the journey.

Silence, a side effect of the infinite.

Funny: the raindrop fallen on a tree keeps clinging to the branch before dropping to the ground.

A certain poet withdraws into the world.

What I love in this Flemish painter: he paints the inaudible.

A stone: feet planted in silence, head in immobility.

Inert, the stone can face the absolute.

Inertness rises from the stone like the very first dream.

For the stone, immobility is work.

Sagho

In a double observance, we present this work in honor of Moroccan Independence Day and the 25th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine
Moroccan
1941 – 1995

 

the bloody morning sprinkled the legends born from dregs
from stars deflowered at full speed
and it lifts my blood like a mustang ringed by eagles

from the high plateau where your fingers fold the sumacs’ fire
to the steppe cracked open by the beaks of ernes
I beat the sky with the questions of my fists

milky morning salt of lilies and agrotis moths
the abyss rewards us with the belly of an antelope slaughtered
in the thunder’s millet

but not a word
not a word if not the flour of lyctus beetles by this masculine weather
and by sheaves the aphids of wind under catnip

too bad so lonely too bad I forge the public flag
of dawn I wipe my eyes with it before entering
the inextricably fair tradition of time

I Will Command Them If They Listen

We present this work in honor of the Moroccan holiday, Green March Day.

Allal El Hajjam
Morrocan
b. 1949

 

He woke up sad,
My little one, trembling
In the abyss of the new morning,
But with a spark of fire in his eyes.
The robins of dreams
Flew in his sky
Like a cry from a wound.

Then I asked him
About the secret of his tears:
About the one who frightens the flowers
And reviles the beautiful birdsongs
While taking the dawn hostage.
Do they set you aflame?

He answered: “War, oh father,
Is a night that devours the light.
It is a ghoul that ensnares children,
And birds,
And poets.
It is a fire that ignites raindrops.
So command them,
Father—command them
To go easy on the lute-strings,
So that their melodies rise
Up into the sky,
Green,
Magic,
With the hope that they will protect us
From the evil of the embers that
Glow on the horizon.”

I wiped the hot tears from his cheeks,
Whose fire was kindled by fear.
Then I kissed the vibration
Of the sound from his lips
And I said to him:
“I will command them— but
Will they listen?”

Burn the Midnight Oil

Abdellatif Laâbi
Moroccan
b. 1942

 

You must stay up all night at least four times a year.
There aren’t enough crazy people around me to go further than that.
A single sleepless night isn’t worth much when you’re on your own.
It needs to be shared.
Only then does the city open up to you without thoughts of death.
Gargoyles carry out their work as exorcists.
Muezzins get drunk on street corners.
There is always a couple who get married at dawn by drawing lots.
The Partisans’ Chant becomes a drinking song.
Satan starts to wax lyrical and hands out unbaited,
red apples to the worshippers.
Feet trample on a treasure-hoard of stars.
The taste of sex rises in the mouth like lemon on oysters.
Only vagabonds can be poets.

The Brooch

Mririda n’Ait Attik
Moroccan
c. 1900 – c. 1940’s

 

Grandmother, grandmother,
Since he left I think only of him
And I see him everywhere
He gave me a fine silver brooch
And when I adjust my haїk on my shoulders,
When I hook its flap over my breasts,
When I take it off at night to sleep,
It’s not the brooch I see, but him!

My granddaughter, throw away the brooch.
You will forget him and your suffering will be over.

Grandmother, it’s over a month since I threw it away,
But it cut deeply into my hand.
I can’t take my eyes off the red scar:
When I wash, when I spin, when I drink—
And my thoughts still are of him!

My granddaughter, may Allah heal your pain!
The scar is not on your hand, but in your heart.

Anticipation of an Exclusion

We present this work in honor of the Moroccan holiday, Revolution Day.

Mostafa Nissaboury
Moroccan
b. 1943

 

I nomad
I heal through sand writings
the wounds of becoming in waiting
I’ll track the image of death in you
your star paths and there where it will be present
with kaftans with kif bouquets
fostering mirages death
very beautiful like the sovereign reading of our hands

Because I See us
I’ll spit out my remembrances at dawn without you
my inaudible kinships in the troubled waters of uncertain early mornings
I’ll be the one
whose voice is native to cities thrown to their defeats
in debris of heavens that haunt them
who does not know my name my origin I’ll be
the blood-me
so as never again to dream.

Death is red all-over who discovers
its blazing owl
and the dullness of a moon asleep
in its sources
Memory damned
From then on I speak the language
inherited from a vast spread out night

I nomad

I would like as in an ancient rite and wearing a mask
I would like with moving grounds
I would like with cycles of bodies walled in the mud I’d like
from yesterday to tomorrow
with streets booby-trapped with men with eyes like extinct suns
with streets without cities with cities without names
I would like
to arrive like a fish according to the customs of water
that punctuate your name with an island in my gaze
I would like like an intense cloud over crops without soil
like a life possibility that is other like a cry
to come back
and inflict on your body the spectacle of my shadow peninsulas
cut through our difficulty of being
or die
I speak
that half of my language where the sun is a fissure while in the
other half everything between us remains a thousand times
to be resaid
the sun is in my language
the phosphorescent jewel summing up venomous nights
of porphyry inside you
protecting forever from my sight
the fogs of your shores and the solid earth of your warheaded tales
the sun in my Adam’s apple
bursts the dams of refusal on the sea that I drink all up
to hear you I want to read
on your breasts the pink alphabet
of pain’s solitudes and the predictions of all the mountains to come
Nomad
to ruin one religion a day without straying from myself
that is from the fracas and plutonium eruptions of my blood
standing watch on the ramparts of the jade palaces
of the mother-of-pearl mausoleums
I would like to ruin one religion a day and all the golden temples
in my memories — set traps for the phantoms
that venture
out of forgetting

I arrive
by the caravan
come out of the great gash
in space.

The Garden

In honor of the Moroccan holiday, Enthronement, we present this work by one of Morocco’s great living poets.

Abdelkarim Tabbal
Moroccan
b. 1931

 

Once this green grass
spoke love to me
whispered to me inside my feet
and so I fell in the lap of greenery
besieged in perfume
drinking the wine of wine
Once it sought to find inside my body
the stem
within my voice
the branches
in my wanderings
the shadows
It grew high in me and I in it
It clung to my mirror
At our reunion it adorned itself
with what is in the water
and in the sun
and in the music
and the dream
Stones summoned life’s passion
Life’s breath was roused. Children.
The voluptuous wind
vents its anger at me
The river nymph and I
sneak away to our secret place
and there she reveals the birth of trees
discloses the secrets of the garden to be
But who of you, travellers
from night to night
tattle-tales
of the sea and its waves
enemies of the flowers
Who of you
trampled the heart
leaving behind only ruins
only the chaff scattering about in forgetfulness?
You can do nothing
The seed is lodged safely in the depths.