from “all along it was a fever: a what poem”


The hard edge of historical light, it waits up for us
all night. Here’s one brutal but apparently
necessary historical bargain: I said that the energy
between you and the person next
to you is truer than it is real. This is not a randomly
existing fact. It’s a collectively and intelligently and menacingly
cultivated feature of our lives. Fugitive fact.
This puts you both—puts
us all—in peril, yes, but protects that energy between us.
If it were the other way, if that living thing between
us had become more—even as—real as it is
true we’d be more protected than we are
but that thing, that sacred being
-between would be endangered. The intelligence
of collective action knows, somehow, that that
kind of security is far more dangerous—the kind of danger
people become to themselves, then to each other,
the kind they become to each other, then to themselves—
than the peril in which we stand now. That’s a hard
historical edge to stand near, real talk, that’s the broken
back of a mother—black—skipped across a wit-quick crack in the sidewalk. 

with grief with fury with action

when we lose track of the person   not to be
confused with that democratic fetish
‘the individual’   when we lose track of that particle
that permeable pool of plasma
the person   and take human reality
to be a solid matter (most often
male) of people’s (often enough clotted
into mobs   often enough mobs of so-
called ‘democratic action’). . . Jesus
Christ let’s just call it conscious intention
lashed to the cleated post of mute
inheritance   we need to be very careful
in that situation   when persons are
pushed (ultimately at gunpoint)
to feel that they have nothing to
lose and that can feel (though most often
it tingles numbly) like freedom
but it’s not   freedom is never that
we must be ve-ry careful    more
careful than anyone can actually be  
because it’s dangerous when it feels
like anything’s possible
but nothing can happen   very
dangerous when it feels
like anything can be put immediately
on display but somehow
nothing can be revealed   to live
in a world (so-called) where
everything’s within reach but nothing
can be touched   maybe
it’s a terrible truth (quite possibly
a truth of parenthood) that for any one
thing to be known (or touched)
everything else must be complexly
felt   as if thru an infinitely
sensate dilation   pure aperture   maybe
that is the open and awestruck light of love
and it’s very simply never ever
simply just that   which is the spark of art
iculate speech   an S curve pulls parabolas
thru a syncro-mesh gearbox   a sudden break
in low clouds off the coast
and into a remorselessly gray sea
of eyes pours a silver sheen   a glistening pool of pain

Related Poems


​translated by Aaron Zaritzky

The sensation of being the only guest
in a grand hotel on the outskirts of the city
—and hearing the somnambulistic
elevator and a scream—
or being in an empty theater
or in a lonely plaza
of a lonely unknown city
weighed down with suitcases and no money
surrounded  by escaped doves
from the studio of the worst taxidermist
that ridiculous melancholy of one who feels ignored
at the parties of younger people
whom he calls late at night
from a bar with the lights already turned off
and talks to himself about the comforts
of being an academic ghost
of an orchestra conductor

I fear, in the end, that I’ve kissed
The lips of a mistaken goddess


La sensación de ser el huésped único
de un gran hotel en las afueras
—y oír el ascensor
sonámbulo y un grito—
o de estar en un cine vacío
o bien en una plaza solitaria
de una solitaria ciudad desconocida
cargado de maletas sin dinero
cercado por palomas escapadas
del taller del peor taxidermista
esa melancolía ridícula del que se ve ignorado
en las fiestas de gente algo más joven
del que llama a altas horas por teléfono
desde un bar en que apagan ya las luces
y habla consigo mismo de lo cómodo que resulta
ser el fantasma académico
de un director de orquesta

En fin me temo que he besado
los labios de una diosa equivocada


However broken the sentences
you believe them preferable to silence

the kind that crowned
the remains of the village

Kabri was without a fight

or the park now at its entrance,
past the foundation stones beneath the picnic benches

to the fig trees huddled over headstones.
Kabri looms large over heavy branches,

the name a contraband clutched in throats.
Homeland of water, the guide said that

Reshef, who was together with his brother got hold of a few youngsters, lined them up

the springs of Kabri quenched all the villages
of Akka, moistened the lips of morning.

He recounted their names
عين مفشوح عين فنارة عين العسل

fired at them with a machine gun. He was a brave fighter.

songs of plenty their syllables cascading
over us in light soft as apricot skins.

I wonder at these park benches
perched above the ruins of another woman’s home.

our friend urged us to proceed, it was not too long before they took us and a few others.

You unsheathe your fear when the body count rises.
You calibrate majorities, try to mitigate the distance

from doorstep to checkpoint. I hear
the language of sunbirds trilling in the carob trees,

There a Jewish officer put a gun to my husband’s neck, “You are from Kabri?”

Someone had to choose
to position a park bench with a view of the village

took away my husband, Ibrahim, Hussain, Khalil al-Tamlawi, Uthman, and Raja.

cemetery, of the monument to the conquering
brigade. Your fears demand fortification and I’m left to exhume

An officer asked me not to cry. We slept in the orchards that night. Next morning

the names beneath your settlements, to dust
time off their letters. Find me

on the way to the village courtyard I saw Um Taha. She cried and said,

a language for us to grieve those whose children
wait precious few kilometres from the park benches, relegated

“You had better go see your dead husband.” I found him. He was shot in the back of the head.

to a camp’s sewage-filled alleys, to half-streets,
shuttered beneath a net of refuse, the thorn-strewn path. Enough

for each of us, let this language be enough
or let silence

                     final, diluvial.


*with italicized excerpts from The Palestinian Exodus from Galilee, 1948 by Nafez Nazzal and Sacred Landscape:The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948 by Meron Benvenisti. 

Doppler Effect

Stopped in cars, we are waiting to accelerate
along different trajectories. I catch the rising

pitch of a train—today one hundred nine people
died in a stampede converging at a bridge;

radioactive water trickles underground
toward the Pacific Ocean; nickel and copper

particulates contaminate the Brocade River.
Will this planet sustain ten billion people?

Ah, switch it: a spider plant leans toward
a glass door, and six offshoots dangle from it;

the more I fingered the clay slab into a bowl,
the more misshapen it became; though I have

botched this, bungled that, the errancies
reveal it would not be better if things happened

just as I wished; a puffer fish inflates on deck;
a burst of burnt rubber rises from pavement.