A Celebration of the Obscure and the Luminous

I. Celebration of Them

How fast
the mortar-round
soars
even though it will never impact.

They sit…
        their eyelashes
        sails
        and their hands
        ships.

From time to time heaven sends an angel to visit them
but he loses his way.

I approach them.

Among them
a woman I loved who died,
and a child who resembles me.
They learn the alphabet of waves to master the reading of oceans.
Your cadaverous image gleams in them.

                Greetings!
                womanish land. . .
I do not see a rose in their wounds,
and the stars above them are still white.

                    He tried to cross the street.
                    He wasn't able to walk in the shade.
                    He wasn't able to walk in the sun
                    And found no path between them.

Day bows,
and Sky squats.
The Sun became a staff for the sheikh, a fruit-seller.

                    He is choked when he remembers.
                    He is choked when he tries to forget.

Hell eats itself.
The fumes: Ink writing time.
Street: a skeleton leaning on his prayers.
Ask the silent sanctity that fogs over the ruins.
Time runs to my side in a nightmare that engulfs the whole path.
The ash that ate the dead does not remember any of them.
The Sky says that she descends, and walks among humanity.
Perhaps she does, but I do not see her.

With the threads of a rose
they bound up death
and threw him into the lap of water.

Corpses: drawings along body of Air.
They are the children of Lebanon.
They ornament the book of Earth and glaze the horizon.
If the sea grew old he would choose Beirut to be a memory for him.

Every moment
Ash
proves that it is Future's castle.

In utter sadness Air stretches its neck out to any killer.
Flock of blood grazes face of land.
How can the wound heal, and how can it be illuminated?


X. Celebration of Reality

If reality was a person he would not take pleasure in what is said about him.
Imagination is Woman. Reality sleeps in her braids.
Despite Desire's solar aspirations it will never touch the Sun's neck.

Age of childhood descends into the house of memory.
Words in the Arabic language are completely blind today.
Branches of a tree forget to receive the sparrow.
Reality is the most withered flower in the garden of words.
Reality does not visit or befriend anything except eyelids of sleep.
Where does your blame for him come from?
Your innards are not his innards.

Desert: a live theatre showing our bodies' entry into the scene of death.
Sometimes the body is a tree whose most beautiful fruits are not harvested:

Dream.
The Dream is a pillow.
On it sleeps the heads of two lovers.
Dream.
Mostly the collective
in the form of the individual.

At the peak of sex man equals Woman.
Both feel they are created from the rib of the other.
The spring is an inkwell.
Its refuge is its ink.
Always homeless.
It cannot even live in its own house.
Love of man is always abundant. He doesn't truly love unless he gives all he has.
Love of Woman is scarce. She doesn't truly love unless she gives more than what she has.
Words are yesterday, whereas the verse authored by them is tomorrow.
Is this poetry's chemistry?
You will not be able to undo that slack belt of dust from your waist.
It seemed as though his pain was a mosque and his sorrow a minaret.

A gull abandons a wave and sleeps with another.
Is it a body transforming into the soul of the ocean?

Time
          floating in happiness
                                and sinking in sorrow.

Image
              in the land of words
                                                                       a subterranean river.

The Sun does not say yes or no, but says itself.

Words do not get wet no matter how much they are submerged in the sea.
The sea is the most desired man in the lap of the desert.
The desert is the most coveted man in the lap of sea.
The two lovers will never meet.
There is no dialogue or embrace between fire and water until one dissolves in the other.

The Future
        a flock of days shepherded by the Present.
He walks like this sometimes.
He also walks backward in the forest of time.
He is not capable of being a true idea,
naked,
because in the past, he lost his face.

Idle breeze.
It doesn't have the strength to lift itself.
It cannot divide this rose.

Life is the most precious and weighty thing given to humankind.
It is weighed by the wind?
Your arrival is mostly a beginning of your procession into truth.

Most pure lightning comes from the heart,
and also from the heart of the blackest clouds.

How do we unite,
O nation,
friend?
Are the dead people within you the only ones who are right?

He kills the grasses and surrenders to thorns.
This is orthodox bravery.

My Power…
        She is this movement that pushes me
        in order to confirm these words.

Truth
is what dwells
in differences.

The Sky by herself cannot be the sole master unless she kills the Earth.
For humanity to march behind you it must march in another direction.
It is unanimous.
These kinds of things come from condemnation.
Every voyage is an escape,
but we cannot see the voyage itself.
We need to see the miseries of that voyage.

Reality
In it
defeated paths come to be.
These paths lead to the paths of freedom.

You cannot know the intimacy of Light unless you were friend to Night.
Light writes with blood of Sun.
Night closes his eyes so he can see.

O Rose,
to whom do you relinquish this glance?

Death takes us without us ever seeing him.
He is always the victor, always escaping.

Love is a plunging,
but a type of resistance, too.
In these states silence cannot be a ladder.
The devil can live with the absence of angels,
but there is no life for angels without the devil.

Your nation,
O poet,
is not yours until you are in exile.
No matter how mad you become, your madness is not enough
to change the world.

The Sinbad who will wander the Oceans of Treasures in his heart
has not been born.

There is no presence, but with absence.
Love is your steps of the past
and the past, our immanent dust.

The verse is always a heaven without a home in the geography of language.

He jumped from his window in order to die. . .
Was it a plunging or flying?

There is a guitar for forgetfulness.
Recollection plays it.
It sadness is its silence.
There are no bounds to the forest of connections extending
between me and this desert:             Reality.

They own all the weapons but war against Nothing.
They stepped into the desert and dug, and began digging into clouds.

You are the wise, created from mud.
Why do you cry over things created by you?

For weakness
for rest
for a little bit of this bliss:
                        Life.
It used to belong to this dome:
The tent
the sun
sewed with its eulogizing rays every day.

Rarely do we accept the truth
except from dead lips.

Throughout the day I was busy talking to this rose.
How do we convince her to take her turn to talk about me?
Hand of Dawn does the Sun's braids so Sky can undo them.


From XI. Celebration of Abi Tammam

iv.  Sun washes body of Matter.
      Secretly, something readies itself.

v.  In the dialogue between trees and wind, branches surrender their lips to kiss of dust.

vi.  The blossom emits a fragrance from bottles made of air.

vii.  The butterfly is a sack carrying colors.

viii.  The image is a lantern: glowing arteries in the body of speech.

ix.  In speech illuminated by image, every word appears
       as a person dreaming standing up.

x. Enter pulse of darkness to catch a glimpse of night.

xi.  Diaphaneity is a hijab.
      The sun as well, almost becoming a shadow.

Bios

Adonis (Ali Ahmad Sa’id)

Adonis (Ali Ahmad Sa’id) is a major Arab poet. He was born in Al-Qassabin, a mountain village in Syria. As a boy, he secured his education and his fate as a poet when he read a poem to the Syrian President Shukri Al-Quwatti, who was touring the country as it had just won its independence. After brief imprisonment as a young man, he left for Lebanon, and has lived and written in exile since.

Patrick Kosiewicz

Patrick Kosiewicz studied in New York and learned Arabic in the US Army. His first book, The Geoglyph, was published by Fly-by-Night Press in January 2009. He is currently writing a new book of poetry and continuing his translations of Arabic poetry and criticism. He may be reached at crazyhorsethunder@gmail.com.

A Celebration of the Obscure and the Luminous. Copyright (c) Dar Al-Adab, 1988. English translation copyright (c) Patrick Kosiewicz, 2009.