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7. Tempted by Nothing: A Song

I do not believe the mind of the crowd
I believe in light—
                   radiating, penetrating, pointing a direction.

Dear Tree of Knowledge,
how can I brother the forests of al-Quds to me?
And who is this One who is never present
             except at funerals or on a throne?

Not yet.
The disaster has not arrived.
                                 The flood has yet to burst.
The Mediterranean is readying itself. The oceans stamp and shudder.
Who will gift this marble head to the king of trades?*
Who will say to Hannibal:
           "Rome defeated you, but you are the victor.
            And from your skull another dawn rises now."

My body is not ether.
My body is dust and bone.
A physics of arteries and veins.
I live in a hut of smoke, and I wear clouds for clothes.
Endless and without ever succeeding, I try to heal the sky.

What a criminal I must be, living innocently like rain.
My only sin is that I compete with light.

Shut yourself up before me, dear Sky.
You will never see me at your door again.

And you, dear Planets, I will not ask you again to be
                              a ladder for my steps.
Inside me countless planets abide.

And now, Lover, strike up your song!


Is your throat your lover? Is your lover your throat?

Don't answer. Just sing.

Time tumbles, stone by stone from the hand of its god.
His children are mountains of weeping.

I see a star above your head, dimming.
I sense sails being ripped in the lakes of your dreams.



Waves take shape in your features. You sing the tide's ebb and flow.
Praise be to song!
Praise be to love!
Right and wrong are a pair of twins between them,
and the truth
is their shared wound.
          Here he is ringing the bell of meaning,
          but will anyone listen?
What good will it do, the hand you reach out to us, O Sun?

Sing, Lover!
Prophecies scamper away from you, jealous near insane.
To you alone belongs life's ageless allure.


Concerto al-Quds
Yale University Press

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