Four Poems

Walid Khazendar

translated by Tom Paulin

The Sail, Again

Only to sleep for a bit
and then to wake up –
this’d force the pack
from off my shoulders
draw the pushiness from out my chest
and burst the buttons – the
too-tight buttons – tin wafers –
that’re stuck there

was it all for nothing then
the thing we launched?
that fell down hard on us?
– it’s time we drew a line
I mean time we started again

as he fell asleep his hands
they dithered a little bit
the blue china it caught
the sunset so that crack in the wall
was a real a deepening split
that headed up to the ceiling and made
it seem to come down on us
– as usual the dust distracted me
I looked on it as over and done with
but still specked
on chairs and on benches
and plants that weren’t there
– it was so solid the air
while the frames on the walls
they pulled back the departed
and then the window the bare
window with no curtain
it showed a sail
– that sail
it was torn to bits
but it still led the wind

Flashgun

There was no knowing
where the door led
nor why the plants by it
were yellow and bent
but what puzzled him most
was the roses the big roses
– they were in his face
they were intimate
and their colours gripped him like a glove

ashy and tired – get the picture?
and just where they touch the cloudstuff
they look black the horses
the point of him being here
’s no way clear
he’s got a few ghosts and a coffee pot
while the fur on his tongue it
makes him bare his teeth
– the horizon’s a needle
– so’s the thornbush
no it’s a whole great box of them
– box of needles –
such a prickly root

then all in a rush
he caught up with his own
with his proper face
this climate plays tricks
makes it look as though the trees
in the walled orchard
are occupied only by fruit
– the night’s out in a flash
the night’s a goner

The Pinched Stream

The stream clems to a trickle
a trickle that looks like a back alley
though it makes not a sound
and that not making
is right where you are
– between no sound and no sound
between that and finding
some needy soul to pity
– though you get into bed with her
you won’t ever
look up at the sky when it’s dull
and tell good weather

these days you don’t kid yourself
in these dodgy alleys
where a house stood one time
domestic like a crock on a shelf
for with neither dusk nor dawnscrake
the night’s twice as dark
– its double darkness
is up to no good

now you hear a noise
or you kid yourself it’s a noise
you see a boat on a blue lake
and a hand like a bird waving goodbye-ee!
you hear rain that isn’t there
hitting windows that aren’t there
and before you can even make a move
you hear the noise your footsteps will make
– it’s as though fruit can choose
not to settle on the earth

The Thin Hem

Maybe she’s intending to pray
– no I can’t – can’t pray –
it’s just such a nuisance
the sight of a woman praying
a woman rubbing the thin hem on her scarf
like a scab
it always reminds me prayer
of a woman stationed at the sink
a woman with rubber gloves
washing the dishes
– she’s put crumbs for the doves
but they don’t land at her door
while the leaves on the vine
this time of year hurries them on
but always heavily – it’s her
loved one who isn’t here
and that isn’t is the weight
in this room
its airless block of nothing
– if he arrives
he’ll split the air
like the flame on a welder’s torch
but he doesn’t he can’t
– now all I want
is to find a fire and pour oil
right back on its flames