Thursday, February 25, 2010

Another new project --

A collaboration, with Jem Sweeney.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I die before the eyes of any messenger
who’s never been subjected to the word

of his own name on page, and write
to him, the one who calls himself

the prophet, as though I’m calling
on a thing already dead.

Dear Prophet, it's only out
of direness, a duty to our tongue gaining

on oblivion, that I address you
by the name you still make

believe your own. Dear Prophet, we’ve lost
the message -- broken off the tongue

of the one who carried it & need
to teach this mute how to write

in our hand, beginning with the names
of buried men. Dear Prophet, we've given up

our own to reconstruct
a tongue in which one piece is always

rotting; now the rest
will go. We stand waiting

for another one, cut off
by the only tongue in which we hail.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Loose translation of an Al-Hallaj poem

أريدك لا أريدك للثواب
ولكني أريدك للعقاب
و كل مآربي قد نلت منها
سوى ملذوذ وجدي بالعذاب

I want you & don't seek your merit,
but wanting I return for retribution;

all I sought, I earned only from the sweetness
of my hunger for the torture.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A loose translation of a Sumnun al-Muhibb poem

افنى الوجود بشاهد مشهوده
يفني الوجود و كل معنى يحضر
و طرحتني في بحر قديسك سابحا
ابغيك منك بلا وجود يظهر

Extinguished is existence, for that which the witness bears
extinguishes it with the significance it holds:

you have left me, in Your Holiness’s ocean, to swim;
within you, to crave, without a crumb of having been.