Salah Abdessabour’s “An Old Story” Translated by Robin Moger

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Vincent Van Gogh, Self-portrait with bandaged ear and pipe, 1889, Arles. Source: Wikipedia

He had friends,

and they pledged him in the evening of his sorrow

not to turn him over to the soldiers

or to deny him when

he was summoned by the king.

And one turned him over

for a handful of silver

then committed suicide

and by another he was denied

three times before dawn broke

and once he had died his lips

could smile again, and then

he went on his way evangelizing,

boasting that he had known him,

and fished blessings by baptizing

in his name.

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Robin Moger Does Salah Abdessabour

The Daybook of Bishr the Barefoot

Abu Nasr, Bishr bin al-Harith, sought out debate and discussion and heard all that was said and so inclined to mysticism. And one day he was walking through the market when, taking fright at the people there, he removed his sandals and slipped them beneath his arms and set off running through the sunbaked stones and sand, and none could keep pace with him. This was in the year 227 AH.

Leopold Müller, A barefoot man in robes running while holding a stick, 1878. Source: Wikipedia

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Valentina Viene Translates Ali Jazo: This Is Your City

John Vink, Phnom Penh, 26/11/2001. Source: magnumphotos.com

Abandoned bags are tossed about by the noon breeze.

Tree leaves, narrow pavements,

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children next to shoes,

teens, out of school, are smoking.

The curls on their foreheads are so shiny

they look frozen and stiff.

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Robin Moger: From Ibn Arabi’s Turjuman al Ashwaq

I wish I knew

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Claudia Gerhard. Source: strkng.com

I wish I knew they knew what heart

they held. That my heart knew

what pass they tread. You wonder

Are they safe?

Or perished?

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The enamoured are

in love adrift

ensnared.

 

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This is Robin Moger’s version of the first poem in Turjuman al Ashwaq

Rachael de Moravia: The Mutability of Beauty

Illustration (made for the poem) by John Trefry

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I went to New Orleans when I was young.

Spanish moss hung from trees like bodies in the still air.

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I wore white linen because of the heat

and the only time I felt comfortable was at three in the morning.

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Her shoulders were bare, her hips narrow like a boy’s,

her skin pale and soft as moth wings in the monochrome night.

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Nurat Maqbool: Dark Waters

INDIA. 2015. Three friends, Kashmir.

Sohrab Hura, Three friends, Kashmir, 2015. Source: magnumphotos.com

It was a rainy day in April.

Noonie stepped out of her school bus and looked across the lake. The naked bulbs on a line of houseboats stared back at her. “Now what?’ they seemed to ask.

The clouds swathed the mountains. The wind punched, pushed, bent the trees across the road.”

She had to row half a kilometre to reach her home: a houseboat. Hers was at the farther edge of the lake near the marshy land. Every day she rowed the small shikara to and fro across the lake. Sometimes, Gul kak, a neighbour, rowed her in case it rained. But that day, no one was in sight.

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Robin Moger: Ahmad Yamani’s The Scream

Michael Donovan. Source: studiodonovan.com

My sister screamed in the night

Take me to my brother’s house

And there she screamed that same night

No no! Take me back to the house of my father

They took her back

And when she made to scream again

The night had passed

And the men had gone to work.

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