Visions of Toota-رؤى التوت

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Slide Show & Night Tour by Yasser Abdellatif

Square Cafe – المقهى المربع

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Night Tour by Yasser Abdellatif

Before he grew familiar with the way to school
the sickly child grew familiar with
the doctor’s place:
the pharmacy below the clinic
with its brown closets
and a young attendant wearing fashions that date back two decades
wrapping the bottles in paper printed with the logo,
which she reeled off a large roll with a metal core,
and noting the times of the doses in clear writing.

On distant mornings
you and your mother would go down to her to buy the medicine.
Why, then, did the pharmacy shift places
in the night,
sliding at least four buildings across?

There is a restaurant at the street corner
whose glass facade which the steam misted over
shows appetising, low-priced food;
it seems very close, over at the curve.
Night after night you will put off having dinner there
and go along with what it takes to stay up and be tired;
the day you make up your mind,
with a strike,
some diabolical hand will have lifted the whole place
off the map of existence.

And in the dark quarter of your knowledge of the city
beyond the street with which you thought the world ended when you were small
is an old traffic post and the ghost of an elderly policeman at the crossroads
with sleepy lights on a night moist with dew.

There stands a forgotten variety theatre
where the numbers are performed on a narrow stage
flanked by two tiers of seats on which the onlookers have gathered.
You are an onlooker and a backstage hand,
your viewpoint flits between the two places
from pointers to clamorous lives
and promises of sustained indulgence
to where safety
fares better than regret
which is as light as beer foam.

Translation of the title poem of Yasser Abdellatif’s last book © Youssef Rakha

Mohammed El Mazrouie: The angels fly

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—You were waiting there,

not parting from the threshold.

Neither night after night

nor morning after morning

could wipe off your eyes the elongated picture of a soul,

of the trunk of a soul.

—Did anyone drink from your mouth

except those mood swings

when the moon takes control of your body’s waters?

—You were smiling,

you were happy,

behaving like a child,

trying to stretch your head

to receive something… from me.

I

ignored you

as if I couldn’t see you.

I did not want to face your eyes

because your eyes asked a lot of questions.

You run

and (what no one sees)

your feet bump into animals

that scurry from your path.

Half of you is covered in wheat straw

and your soul is naked.

Mohammed El Mazrouie

Translated from Arabic by Youssef Rakha

Some of Sylvia Plath’s Last Poems

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Sheep in Fog

The hills step off into whiteness.

People or stars

Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

The train leaves a line of breath.

O slow

Horse the colour of rust,

Hooves, dolorous bells -

All morning the

Morning has been blackening,

A flower left out.

My bones hold a stillness, the far

Fields melt my heart.

They threaten

To let me through to a heaven

Starless and fatherless, a dark water.

Child

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.

I want to fill it with color and ducks,

The zoo of the new

Whose names you meditate —

April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Little

Stalk without wrinkle,

Pool in which images

Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous

Wringing of hands, this dark

Ceiling without a star.

Kindness

Kindness glides about my house.

Dame Kindness, she is so nice!

The blue and red jewels of her rings smoke

In the windows, the mirrors

Are filling with smiles.

What is so real as the cry of a child?

A rabbit’s cry may be wilder

But it has no soul.

Sugar can cure everything, so Kindness says.

Sugar is a necessary fluid,

Its crystals a little poultice.

O kindness, kindness

Sweetly picking up pieces!

My Japanese silks, desperate butterflies,

May be pinned any minute, anesthetized.

And here you come, with a cup of tea

Wreathed in steam.

The blood jet is poetry,

There is no stopping it.

You hand me two children, two roses.

Words

Axes

After whose stroke the wood rings,

And the echoes!

Echoes traveling

Off from the center like horses.

The sap

Wells like tears, like the

Water striving

To re-establish its mirror

Over the rock

That drops and turns,

A white skull,

Eaten by weedy greens.

Years later I

Encounter them on the road—

Words dry and riderless,

The indefatigable hoof-taps.

While

From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars

Govern a life.

Contusion

Color floods to the spot, dull purple.

The rest of the body is all washed out,

The color of pearl.

In a pit of rock

The sea sucks obsessively,

One hollow the whole sea’s pivot.

The size of a fly,

The doom mark

Crawls down the wall.

The heart shuts,

The sea slides back,

The mirrors are sheeted.

Edge

The woman is perfected.

Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,

The illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,

Her bare

Feet seem to be saying:

We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,

One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty.

She has folded

Them back into her body as petals

Of a rose close when the garden

Stiffens and odors bleed

From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,

Staring from her hood of bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.

Her blacks crackle and drag.

***

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