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Zaid Shlah “As much at home with the expansive Qasida tradition as with the work of Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Derek Walcott,” Zaid Shlah’s poems blend contemporary voices with the ancient traditions of Iraqi and Arabic poetry. Shlah’s first book is Taqism. A native of Calgary, Canada, Shlah is the recipient of an American Academy of Poets Award and lectures at the New College of California. Thirty-Three Beads on a String 1 I woke from the nightmare of a gutted maqam. 2 Not because I have not yet bled my life in yellow, but because minarets sky downwards, looking for purple births. 3 One burly buffalo shrouded in hooves and hot breath. 4 Because the skin is not yet numb, 297 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 297 and the lights are not flickering, I will continue to sip at my hot tea, and stare at the dust coloured noon. 5 One white dishdadha screams with the brilliance of red. 6 Can you hear them— the melodious intent, the glimmering oud in their eyes? 7 Faith, stitch by seam, a garment I have sewn to my skin. 8 Whatever remains of Al-Gubbenchi’s 1932 Cairo studio recording, lives between the old cobble-stoned quarter, and my still-warm mahogany ear. 9 I should’ve gotten up to shake his hand, this uncomfortable tension between me and God. 298 Zaid Shlah 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 298 10 Medina, its streets adorned with smells from the bazaar, yet I have chosen to adorn myself in the still concrete of columns. 11 I’m for the transcription of the Arabic—sweet spread over toast, a dark syrup from dates. 12 Last night Al-Gubbenchi dreamt of his father’s fallen tooth. 13 In the morning he howled a song in the name of his father; Iraq’s new fathers weep at the birth of their sons. 14 Do not cry for Leila or for Hind, but drink the red wine, and grow your love doubly, one for the ruby in the cup, the other for its rouge upon your cheek. Zaid Shlah 299 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 299 15 Bombs raked the eyes of the sleeping Assyrian gods. 16 As if it were only a sandbox, a few worthless grains of sand. 17 I’ll cut for you the last swath of blue from the sky, sever my hand if you’ll let me but for five minutes more, leave me to sleep without the knowledge of war. 18 A quanoun weeps near the funeral of music. 19 Having been occupied, notes mourn for the loss of their song. 20 I’m for a concert of horses; the origin of gazelles leapt up from the heart of Al-Gubbenchi. 300 Zaid Shlah 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 300 21 Had you made small steps into the desert inside us, or listened for the guttural lodged deep within our throats, you would have come bearing gifts. 22 I have nothing in red that I would not abide in green. 23 Al-Mutanabbi wrote the heart of our silken tarab; what need have we for you? 24 No poem is ever enough red— but that its blood might river through the life of its people. 25 Beneath the desert-sun, a cage in Abu Ghraib, one man by one man by one man, breathe six. 26 Thousands of tons rung sonorous from the sky. Zaid Shlah 301 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 301 27 Black eyed woman, the street-dogs are running wild, will you save me? 28 Simple white ignorance: even the desert has gone into hiding. 29 There is no more meaning here than the crested moon holds towards a dying grove of date trees. 30 I’m for the transcription of the Arabic—za’tar zate over fire-baked bread. 31 The twin rivers have already carved for us a history, our poets have already explained to us the desert; by what right have you come? 32 Who of you has seen the rustic crane in the tree, 302 Zaid Shlah 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 302 no chimes, but for its delicate wide beak, ushers an intemperate reprieve. 33 Thirty-three beads...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781610752060
Related ISBN
9781557288677
MARC Record
OCLC
769187839
Pages
328
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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