The Cabinet Of Wonders

Intro: Not only do beings and things have spirits that in turn take the forms of beings and things, but deeds, words, thoughts, and feelings also have spirits of their own. Thus is may happen that the soul of a beautiful deed may assume the form of an angel. – Sheikh Badruddin


One of those dry periods for Turfing entries, (unless you get “The Mini Turf” of course (If you want to notified about Turfing or The Mini-Turf send me your email addy of choice to – llwydd (at sign) – and I will add you right away) though I have been thinking about Turfing (like the new look?) and fiddling about.

So much to write about, but I shan’t burden you with all of the details in this intro. It has been a wild couple of weeks, in so many ways. We installed a new poetry pole, and still moving forward with The Invisible College. I cover what else that has been going on in The Cabinet Of Wonders

I hope you enjoy this entry!


On The Menu:
The Short Note: Event Of The Week!
The Cabinet Of Wonders
The Links
In Tom’s Head
Vieux Farka Touré : Bullet The Blue Sky
The Angel Of Death
Ahmed Taha Poems on Anwar Kamal
Vieux Farka Touré – Fafa

The Short Note: Event Of The Week!

In This Pic: Guido Orio (Grip-Writer), Rowan Spiers-Floyd (Assistant Director/Producer-Writer), Wiley Parker (Director – Writer & Fill in Actor!)

Rowan worked in concert with a group on a 24 hour film project this past weekend on “Above and Beyond”, and their film will be first shown tomorrow night at the Hollywood Theatre at 42nd & NE Sandy, at the Portland Film Race 2010 Screening.
Here is the addy and other info:
Portland Film Race 2010 Screening
Location:The Hollywood Theatre
Time:Wednesday, 30 June 2010 19:00
Admission is 10.00 at the door
Be there early, “Above and Beyond” will be the first film shown!

The Cabinet Of Wonders:

Well, it’s been awhile. I have been working hard in the actual world, and trying to figure out this place we call Here and Now… I am going to describe some events from the last couple of weeks.

First: It’s in between rain showers, and Mary and I are working in North East Portland. I hear a cry from the air, and see a hummingbird, doing a dance. It hovers, and then climbs, climbs, and climbs up through the ladders of air, dives straight down and as it almost hits a roof it pulls up and cries out. This ritual is done everyday at the same time, at the same place. It is absolutely beautiful.

Second: “Oh what is that!” I hear Mary cry in the darkening of the evening outside. I look to where she is pointing, and up on a roof nearly 3 stories up is a very, very large shape. It is circling the roof, and then settles in on the South West corner. “Is it a raccoon?” Mary asks, and as I flash my torch up at it, I see it is a cat. So large, at first I thought it a Lynx or a Wildcat, but no, it is a domestic cat. Obviously it had climbed the cedar next to the house perhaps in pursuit of a squirrel, and gotten struck. I bring Sophie (our dog) out and tried to point it out. She just doesn’t see it. The cat is staying stock still, Sofie being a sight hound doesn’t see it until Mary’s torch later catches only its shining eyes moving. Sophie goes absolutely nuts. In the morning, the cat is gone, having finally figured out a way off the roof. I had visions of the fire department coming to get it off of the roof if he was still stuck.

Third: Late night: After working in our yard together, Mary and are sitting in chairs outside. The moon rises up, and everything glows with beauty. We sit together, as we have all these years, sharing in the moment with the arch of the heavens above. In that moment, everything is right. Buster the cat lies in front of Mary, and Sophie lies where I can rest my foot on her. I feel the now deeply, and I drink it in.

Fourth: I have several nights of dreams about un-finished emotional work stemming from events that happened in my teens. Two nights of heart rending memories welling up, with mornings filled with hauntings. The third night, I wake up, and my heart feels like a knife is passing though it. No matter what you have done to change things, sometimes you carry actions by others and yourself for life. These are the depths that run often unexplored. Yet, in the end all must come to that place where truth abides, and all the stories culminate. Sad as these moments are, they must acknowledged whatever the cost. How do you reach across decades to people you no longer are in contact with?

Fifth: We show up to work at a clients house. Mary works mainly on the outside, and I am repairing a mural I painted on her neighbors garage wall. The old balloon with her family I had painted had faded to nothing due to my use of florescent paints. I get up on the wall, and slowly obliterate the balloon, and then the basket with her family. The client, her two children, and then last her husband who’d died 5 years previously. Just like that, as if they never were under a covering of white. I move further down the wall towards the street, and start anew. Different balloon, different basket, and maybe the family again.

Sixth: I am reading Essential Sufism, edited by James Fadiman & Robert Frager. I can’t describe the beauty of this book, I write James and tell him of my early adventures in the world of Sufism. He writes back with some wondrous tales of his own. I find that the book goes with me everywhere. I read it before I go to sleep, I read a page or two during the day. It is almost a home coming on many levels.

Seventh: Mary and I are working in the yard, taking down old beds, moving the dirt, going to the plant nursery, coming home and prepping, cutting back bamboo and blackberries for the summer. We work together like the matched pair, she has the drive and direction, and I the brute strength where it is needed. She talks, and before my eyes she creates the garden for this summer around us. What was virtually jungle now has her imprint upon it. This is a story that goes back before the neolithic, and it plays out in our small space. Loam between fingers, the smell of earth, and the salt of sweat in ones eyes. We sleep the sleep of the dead, and give it another go the next day, trying to catch up along with all the other workers of the soil, the gardeners, and the farmers after out very, very wet spring.

The Links:
Shark’s Carrying Anti-Bacterial Monsters
The World Fire
Burning To Leave The Office?
The Nuclear Reactor Next Door…
Moments with Shams
In Tom’s Head

Vieux Farka Touré : Bullet The Blue Sky

Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, by J. E. Hanauer [1907]

The Angel Of Death

Three mighty angels were standing before the throne of Allah with the most profound reverence, waiting to fulfil His high behests, and Allah said to one of them, “Descend to the Earth and bring hither a handful of its dust.” On receiving this command the messenger, with swift wing cleaving the atmosphere, descended to the Earth, and gathered a handful of its dust in obedience to the most High. No sooner, however, had he begun to do this, than the whole world shuddered and trembled from its centre to its circumference and groaned most pitifully; and, moved and startled by the distress and anguish which his attempt had caused, the gentle angel let the dust which he had gathered fall back, earth to earth, and returned weeping and ashamed to the Presence of Him that had sent him. And Allah said, “I blame thee not, it was not written on the tablet of destiny that this should be thine office. Stand now aside for other service.” Then Allah said to the second of the three angels, “Go thou, and fetch a handful of Earth’s dust.” He, too, flew swiftly down to Earth and tried to gather up a handful of its dust, but when he saw how the Earth shook and shuddered, and when he heard its groans, the gentle angel could not do the deed but let that which he had gathered fall, dust unto dust, and lifting up himself, he returned ashamed and weeping to the Presence of Him Who had sent him. And Allah said, “This task was not for thee. I blame thee not, but stand thou too aside, and other service shall be thine.” Then Allah sent the third angel, who descended swiftly, and gathered up the dust. But when the Earth began to groan and shudder in great pain and fearful anguish, the sad angel said, “This sore task was given me by Allah, and His Will must be done, even though hearts break with pain and sorrow.” Then he returned and presented the handful of Earth’s dust at Allah’s throne. And Allah said, “As thou the deed hast done, so now the office shall be thine, O Azrael, to gather up for me the souls of men and women when their time has come; the souls of saints and sinners, of beggars and of princes, of the old or young, whate’er befall; and even though friends weep, and hearts of loved ones ache with sorrow and with anguish, when bereft of those they love.” So Azrael became the messenger of Death. Azrael had done some wrong in Heaven, to expiate which he was obliged to live a man’s life on earth, without, however, neglecting his duties as Angel of Death; so he became a physician and, as such, attained wide celebrity. He married and got a son; but his wife was a dreadful shrew; and it did not increase his happiness in her society to know that she was destined to outlive him.

When Azrael had grown old, and the time for his release drew near, he revealed his real character to his son under oath of the strictest secrecy. “As I am shortly to depart,” he said, “it is my duty to provide for your future. You know all that can be known of the science and practice of medicine. Now I am going to tell you a secret which will secure infallible success in that profession. Whenever you are called to a bedside, I shall be present, visible to you alone. If I stand at the head of the bed, be sure the patient will die in spite of all your remedies; if at the foot, he will recover though you gave him the deadliest poison.” Azrael died, as was predestined; and his son, following his instructions, soon grew rich and famous. But he was a spendthrift, and laid by nothing out of all he earned. One day, when his purse was quite empty, he was called to the bedside of a rich notable, who lay at death’s door. On entering the sickroom, he saw his father standing at the head of the bed; so, after going through a form of examination and deliberation, he pronounced the patient’s case quite hopeless. At that the poor rich man, beside himself with fear, clasped the doctor’s knees, and promised him half his possessions if he would save his life. The son of Azrael was sorely tempted. “Well,” he said at length, “I will see what I can do, if you will make it three-fourths of your wealth, to be mine whether I succeed or no.” The patient in fear of death consented, and a contract was drawn up, signed and sealed and witnessed. Then the physician turned to his father, and by frantic gestures implored him to move to the foot of the bed, but the Angel of Death would not budge. Then, having called in four strong men, he bade each take a corner of the bed and, lifting all together, turn it round quickly so that the sick man’s head should be where his feet had been. This was done very cleverly, but Azrael still stood at the head. The manœuvre was oft repeated, but Azrael always moved with the bed. The son was forced to rack his brains for some new expedient. Having dismissed the four porters, he suddenly fell atrembling and whispered, “Father, I hear mother coming.” In a trice fear flamed in the grim angel’s orbs, and he was gone. So the sick man recovered. But from that day forth Azrael ceased to appear to his son, who made so many mistakes in his practice that his reputation fast declined.

One day he had been at the funeral of a Jew, his victim, and was strolling down Wady-en-Nâr, 1 in sad thought of his father, when he saw Azrael standing at the door of a cave. “In a few minutes you are going to die,” said the father sternly. “For thwarting me in my duties, your life has been shortened.” The youth implored his mercy, falling at his feet and kissing them, till Azrael said more kindly, “Well, come into my workshop, and see if your wits can find a way out of the difficulty. Though I myself am powerless now to help you, it is possible that you may yet help yourself.” They passed through a suite of seven chambers, the sides of which looked like the walls of an apothecary’s shop, being covered with shelves on which were all sorts of bottles, urns and boxes; each of which, as Azrael explained, contained the means of death for some human being. Taking down a vessel, he unscrewed its metal lid, and it seemed to the son as if some air escaped. “A certain youth,” he explained has to die within a few minutes by a fall from his horse, and I have just let loose the ‘afrìt’ who will scare that horse.” Of a second vessel he said, “This contains egg-shells of the safat, a strange bird, which never alights, even when mating. Its eggs are laid while on the wing and hatched before they reach the ground. The shells only fall to the earth, for the young are able to fly as soon as they leave the egg. These shells are often found and devoured by the greedy and blood-thirsty shibeh, 1 which goes mad in consequence and bites every creature that comes in its way, thus spreading hydrophobia and giving me plenty of work.”

Thus they passed from room to room till they came to a mighty hall, where, on rows upon rows of tables, were myriads of earthen lamps of various forms and sizes; some of which burned brightly, others with a doubtful flame, while many were going out. “These are the lives of men,” said Azrael. “It is Gabriel’s place to fill and light them; but he is rather careless. See! he has left his pitcher of oil on the table next to you.” “My lamp! where is my lamp?” cried the son feverishly. The Angel of Death pointed to one in the act of going out. “O father, for pity’s sake, refill it!” “That is Gabriel’s place, not mine. But I shall not take your life for a minute, as I have got to collect those lamps at the end of the hall, which have just gone out.” The son, left standing by his dying flame, grasped Gabriel’s pitcher and tried to pour some oil into his vessel; but in his nervous haste he upset the lamp and put it out. Azrael came and took up his son’s empty lamp, carrying it back through the rooms to the mouth of the cave, where the dead body of the physician was found later. “Silly fellow,” he thought to himself. “Why must he interfere in the work of angels. But at any rate he cannot say I killed him.” Azrael always finds an excuse, as the saying goes.

Among the soldiers of Herod there was an Italian named Francesco, a brave young man who had distinguished himself in the wars and was a favourite with his master as with all who knew him. He was gentle with the weak, kind to the poor, and except in fair fight had never been known to hurt a living thing. Children especially used to delight in his companionship. He had but one vice: he was an inveterate gambler, and all his spare moments were spent at cards.

Not only did he gamble himself, but he seemed to take a special delight in persuading others to follow his example. He would waylay boys and lads on their way to school, and apprentices sent running upon errands, and entice them to try their luck at a game. Nay, so infatuated did he become, that he is said to have ventured to accost some respectable Pharisees on their way to and from the Temple and invite them to join him at his loved diversion. At last, things went so far that the Chief Priests and Rulers betook themselves to Herod in a body and demanded his punishment. But card-playing happened to be a pastime in which Herod himself delighted so he did not take the charge against Francesco very seriously. Only, when the Jewish rulers kept on worrying him, he gave the Italian his discharge, and bade him leave Jerusalem and never again be seen within its walls.

Francesco entered on a new course of life. Gathering round him certain of his former comrades whose time of service had expired, he became the leader of a band of armed men whose business it was to waylay travellers on their way to and from the Holy City. Their principal haunt was a large cave on the road a little to the north of El Bìreh, the ancient Beeroth. In no case were they guilty of violence and they always let the poor go unmolested. Their mode of procedure was singular. They used to stop and surround travellers who seemed wealthy and invite them to their cave to play a game with Francesco. The travellers dared not refuse so courteous an invitation when delivered by a band of armed brigands. They were politely welcomed by the gambler, treated to wine, and made to stake at cards whatever valuables they had with them. If they won, they went undespoiled; if they lost, they were compassionated and begged to come again with more money and try their luck a second time.

This went on for a long while, till, on a certain day, the sentinel on the look-out announced that a party of pedestrians was in sight. “If they are on foot,” said the leader of the outlaws, “they are not likely to have with them anything worth playing for; still, let us see. How many of them are there?” “Thirteen,” was the answer. “Thirteen,” said Francesco musingly, “that is a curious number. Now where was it that I met a party of just thirteen men? Ah! now I remember; it was at Capernaum, where the Carpenter-rabbi of Nazareth cured the servant of one of the centurions belonging to our legion. I wonder whether by any chance, he and his twelve pupils can be coming this way. I must go and see for myself.” So saying he came out of the cave and joined the watchman at his point of vantage. The travellers were now near enough for Francesco to know them for Our Lord and His Apostles. He hastily called his men together, and told them that this time a really good man and a great prophet was coming, and that they must hide away the cards and all else that was sinful, for this was quite a different sort of person from the hypocrites of Jerusalem. Leaving them to prepare for the coming guests, he hurried down the road and, saluting the Saviour and His companions, pressed them, seeing evening was at hand and a storm threatening, to honour him and his comrades by spending the night with them. The invitation was accepted, and Jesus and His followers became the guests of the outlaws, who did their best to make them comfortable and, after supper, gathered round the Divine Teacher and, drinking in his gracious words, wondered. Although in all He said there was not a word that could be construed into blame of their way of life, yet a sense of guilt fell on them as they listened. The brigands made the guests lie down on their own rough beds, whilst they themselves wrapped their abâyehs around them and slept on the bare ground. That night it was Francesco’s turn to keep the watch. It chanced to strike him that the Saviour, lying fast asleep, had not sufficient covering, so he took off his own abâyeh and laid it over Him. He himself walked up and down to keep warm, but could not help shivering. Next morning, having breakfasted with the outlaws, Jesus and His Apostles departed, Francesco and some of his own men setting them on their way. Before parting, the Saviour thanked Francesco for his hospitality and that of his comrades and asked whether it were in His power to gratify any special wish he might have. “Not one, O Lord, but four,” replied the gambler. “What are they?” asked Jesus. “First,” said Francesco, “I am fond of playing cards, and I beg Thee to grant that whoever I play with, whether human or otherwise, I may always win. Next, that in case I invite any one to sit upon a certain stone seat at the door of our cave, he may not be able to get up without my permission. Thirdly, there is a lemon tree growing near the said cave, and I ask that nobody who climbs it at my request, may be able to descend to the ground unless I bid him. And lastly, I beg that in whatever disguise Azrael may come to take away my soul, I may detect him before he come too near, and be ready for him.” On hearing these strange petitions, the Saviour smiled sadly and answered, “My son, thou has spoken childishly and not in wisdom. Still, that which thou hast asked in thy simplicity shall be granted, and I will add thereto the promise, that when thou shalt see thy error, and desire to make a fresh request, it shall be granted. Fare thee well.”

Years passed away and many of Francesco’s comrades had left him, when one day the Angel of Death, disguised as a wayfarer, was seen approaching. Francesco knew him from afar, and when Azrael came to the door of the cave, the gambler invited him to sit down on the stone seat without. Having seen the angel fairly seated, Francesco cried, “I know thee. Thou hast come to take my soul, or the soul of one of my comrades, but I defy thee! I entertained the Lord of Life in this cave years ago, and He gave me power to forbid, any one who sits on that seat to rise from it without my leave.” The angel at once struggled to get up but found himself paralysed. Finding rage of no avail, he humbly begged to be released. Francesco extorted from him a solemn oath not to seek his soul nor that of any of his comrades for the space of fifteen years, then let him go.

The fifteen years passed, and Francesco now dwelt alone in his cave as a godly hermit, when the Angel of Death drew near once more. The recluse at once withdrew into the cave and lay down on his bed, groaning as if in agony. This time, Azrael entered the cave dressed in a monk’s habit. “What ails thee, my son?” he asked. “I have fever and I thirst,” came the reply. “I beg you to gather a lemon for me off the tree which grows close to the cave, and to mix a little of its juice with f water that my thirst may be slaked.” As it wanted yet some minutes of the time appointed, Azrael saw in the request a good excuse for administering a mortal draught; so he climbed the tree to reach the fruit. But, no sooner was he up in the branches than he heard a laugh and, looking down, beheld Francesco in the best of health. He strove to descend but could not move without Francesco’s leave, which was not granted until he had pledged his word to keep away for other fifteen years.

That term elapsed and Azrael came a third time. “Do you intend to play any more vile tricks on me?” he inquired of Francesco, now an aged man. “Not if you will grant me one favour,” answered Francesco, “and allow me to take my pack of cards into the other world.” “Will my giving you the permission lead to some fresh practical joke at my expense?” “No, I most solemnly assure you,” replied the old man. Hereupon the Angel of Death snatched up Francesco’s soul and his pack of cards and went with them to the gate of Paradise where St Peter sits to admit the souls of the righteous. Francesco was told to knock at the gate. He did so and it was opened, but when the porter saw who it was, and that he had brought his cards with him, he slammed the door in his face. So Azrael lifted the poor soul up again and descended with him to the gate of Hell where Iblìs sits, eager to seize and torment dead sinners. On beholding who it was that the Angel of Death had brought, he said in great glee, “Here you are at last, my dear. I have waited long for your arrival, and so have many others with whom you played cards on Earth. They all hope to see you beaten at your own game, for as you did not allow travellers to reach the Holy City till they had played with you, so shall I not allow you to roast on the red-hot coals till you have played a game with me. You have your cards, I see, so we will begin at once.” So Francesco and the Evil One began to play, and to the surprise of both Francesco won the game. Satan insisted on a fresh trial of skill, and when he was once more defeated, he would insist on another trial, till at last, when he had been beaten seven times, he lost his temper and drove out Francesco, saying that he could not have any one in Hell who excelled him in any thing even though it were a game. On hearing this, fresh hope was roused in the poor sinner’s heart, and, recalling the Saviour’s pledge to grant him one more boon, he begged Azrael who had stopped to watch the game to take him back to the gates of Paradise, as he felt sure the Saviour would not treat him as harshly as the Prince of Saints and the chief of lost spirits had done. So Azrael took the poor soul to Heaven’s gate and it once more knocked thereat, and when St Peter opened, and would have driven it away, it pleaded the Saviour’s promise to grant one more boon. So St Peter called his Master, Who, when Francesco asked for admission, confessing that his life had been one great mistake and offering to throw away his pack of cards, told Mar Butrus to let him in; and so the lifelong gambler entered Paradise.


177:1 This account of the appointment of Azrael was given by a Moslem lady of rank to a Christian woman, who passed it on to my wife.

179:1 Hell has seven gates, one of which is in Wady-en-Nâr; and the Angel of Death has his workshop in one of the caves in that gloomy valley, as appears in this story.

180:1 Shibeh (lit. “the leaper”) is one of the names of the leopard. But in folk-lore it is described as a creature combining the characteristics of the badger and the hyæna.

Ahmed Taha Poems on Anwar Kamal

From: The empire of walls (cantos and stories)

Portrait of Anwar Kamel

You extend your spider web
beyond all exiles
and beyond the years that escaped you
this is why
the regime’s soldiers couldn’t hunt you
and your fragile threads remained
a dusky home for
the comrades who died or immigrated

How do you forget that you’re the one
who started departing
then invented your face
that we see so enigmatic
and the fingers that take refuge
in your eyes
whenever you hide
behind a stone table
or a silk coat

How do you hear now the beats of your body
whenever you read Nietzsche or Paul Eluard
you extend your hands to the desert
in order to meet God away from both the “Pasha” square
and the chairs of the “Odeon” café
you whisper to him about your rebellion
you remember your briefcase,
so you gesture to him
and give him the nearest poem, he reads it
and leans toward you
and the eyes smile

From: A final portrait of Anwar Kamel

Anwar Kamel was an important member of the Egyptian avant-garde in the forties, a friend of George Henein and Edmond Jabes. Kamel was an early Trotskyite and wrote a book “El-ketab El-mamnoo’” that was banned then. After the military takeover in 1952, most of his friends either immigrated or were forced into exile. In the eighties, an old man, he published the new generation of Egyptian poets in his free, limited distribution, magazine/flyer “Fasilah”.

Shobra is a very crowded lower middle class neighborhood in Cairo where Ahmed grew up.
Anwar Kamel widens his exile:

For thirty years
you were alone in your exile
meanwhile, we crawled,
and wore fatigues

You knew
that our path goes through here
so you were widening your exile
and building a fortress of names between your tomb
and the regime’s soldiers:

this is George Henein
taking out maps from his armpit
in order to pick where he would be born
and where he would get lost

this is Trotsky
bending over a book
and pointing to his heartache

this is Ramsis Younan
drawing a city of dreams and illusions
and disappearing in its streets

this is Besheer El-Sebaai
writing a romantic apology
for not dying in 1848

this is Ahmed Taha
creating these traps and holes
around himself
in order to chase his runaway childhood

this is Cairo, your city
not a single alphabet letter can penetrate it
to disclose its streets that host different epochs
like homeless old people
these streets where deities are conversing
as if they were friends in a coffee shop

and this is “Shobra”
a body that extends like a graveyard
that is big enough for everyone
yet doesn’t fit a single person
Shobra that is embarrassed of its sagging breasts
so it kneels
and the dead,
the hungry,
the kids,
and the grieving women
drop from it
like warm milk
yet the armies of police remain,
the empty cable cars remain,
the train graveyard in the north end of Shobra remains,
also the kids whose skin is mere dust,
men who mumble at night
and yell during the day,
women who weep — the same way they laugh —
beneath the weight of their husbands
or behind their coffins
women who get impregnated with men’s panting
and under their gowns their kids walk.

Anwar Kamel dies a natural death:

I always saw you
lying on the road
bullets gathered around you like flocks of flies
meanwhile your gray coat is completely open
and next to you, was this dark featherless bird
that — moments ago — used to be your leather briefcase
before they removed your papers from it

Yet you died an ordinary death
that is similar to your last escape
and similar to this awful type of death that we have in
and Damascus
out of hunger
and depression

This canned death
that has already expired
and can only bring
and headache
this death that can be defeated by
aspirin and valium

You must feel jealous then of our surreal death
coming from the desert
riding its camouflaged camel
with computerized rockets in its saddlebag
and in the distance between its head and its fingers
a bowl of the leftover Fatta*
from yesterday’s dinner
* Fatta is a Bedouin food

Anwar Kamel didn’t build a home country in his briefcase:

For thirty years
you were alone in your exile
and you were thinking
“Where does the original Cairo sleep
and how did the barracks extend to reach my window”

You were thinking
“How could the lost George Henein
have a home country
to put his arm around
or sit with in a café
and maybe feel its body after his second drink”

As for you
the home country that sits next to you doesn’t know your name
even after ten drinks
it may stretch
you may rub your eyes a little
then it would go about its daily journey
and you would go with your daily journey”

Well, let it be then
you only have this chest without nipples
after all the comrades have left forever
like wandering butterflies
where nipples grow like grass
on coffee shop tables
waiting for the dry lips
of those who migrated from the east

Let it be then
you will surrender your body to them
without any sign that points to your
specializing in death for thirty years
let them bury it in the graveyard of July
and you go back to what you were:
a spirit that wanders
in the relics of Heliopolis

A last dance with Anwar Kamel

As usual
I’ll slightly disagree with you
regarding who should die first:
or the husband of the woman I’m sleeping with?.

The General who is in khaki,
or the General who is in jeans?

Yet we will agree before the night ends
that everyone should die
and we will agree that we will organize everything
whenever the time permits
in the evening that follows
your final departure

Anwar Kamel celebrates the 14th of July:

Don’t say that all these defeats have colored me
with the color that doesn’t show in the darkness
this was my color from the beginning
as it is your color now
call it whatever you want
it is all you have

There is not a half death for you to die
and there is not half a color for me to live it
this is why I will stay — as I was created — a terrorist
and stuff my head with these big-bellied dying children
and ambush these blonde worms
like a fat spider

I won’t suck their viscous blood
I will organize them in my old notebooks
placed deep in each of their chests, a spear.
I will return their horns they put in museum halls
and their eyes that were stuck to the heads of fish
maybe I would dance around their corpses
that are lined up without shiny coffins
maybe I would fill their limbs with my words
that don’t know Rousseau or Voltaire
and don’t care about the 14th of July
and don’t resemble these three words
that fall from the pages of books
like fetuses in their third month
that stuck to the rears of cannons
like genital flees

But I embrace every moment with this shiny sword
that falls like an angry god
to put the heads of kings, prostitutes,
poetry recite-rs, revolutionary intellectuals,
Generals, beautiful women, and men of God in one basket

I wish if I were there
I would have brushed against the shoulders of these women
who are peeling their vegetables
then would have sat immediately behind that basket
wetting my quill with fresh blood
and write a love poem daily
on my sweetheart’s head

How did the gods ask about the tomb of Anwar Kamel:

There should be a dark universe
where the gods who created it stumble
while searching in the rubble of ancient cities
for any monument from the past
I’ll guide them like blind people
through the ruins that I know well
pointing at what remained of
and canned sex organs

I’ll lie to them whenever I can
like tourist guides lie
to old folks seeking immortality

I will point at Paris’ skull and say:
here Anwar Kamel was born
and point to London’s vagina that is covered with gray hair:
here the faces of the revolutions of third world countries got stuck
and to Washington’s ass:
here third world countries’ officers became leaders
and to Moscow’s breasts that drip rotten milk:
here the leaders turned into philosophers

And when the gods try to return to their far skies
while holding their fake monuments
their eldest will ask me with his dignified voice:
what do you want you obedient servant?

I’ll kneel down in front of him
holding back a chuckle
and chant in a pious tone:
I want more flourishing cities,
more T.N.T.,
and more valium.

Anwar Kamel doesn’t intend to be a saint:

Now, here are the comrades: The Decembrists, the Octoberists
and the romantic assassin writers
unifying their death
they all arrive
with their unkempt beards dangling
with lit pipes.

They will fill the earth with saliva
the air with coughs,
and the sky with something dark
that resembles smoke

In between their sporadic exhalation
their teary voices will echo
while reciting the books of the ancestors
who followed God’s calling
so their blood flowed on His door
while carrying sharp-edged crosses

And you never return

Here are the comrades
raising the white flags
with bloody stripes
and the smallpox scars that resemble the stars
and chant the book of the Ecclesiastes

And you never return

Here are the comrades
their feet shaking absently
while they pray for exodus
the jazz music calms down,
the psalms begin,
their bodies are free from December’s ice
and they begin the New Testament
with their feet flying in the air
their beards touch in ecstasy
and moans that are louder than rock music
in front of the sacrifice scene

And you never return

Maybe you will write the last page
starting with a greeting
and ending with an apology
not for specializing in death for thirty years
and not for escaping from the time of the military and the Bedouins
and certainly not for migrating with the birds in the fall
but because — unlike these birds —
you won’t return the next spring.


Vieux Farka Touré – Fafa

This spirit of divine origin appears in a man as man, in beast as beast, and in plant as plant. And it appears differently even within each species, appearing in each person in a different manner in accordance with his different capacity and predisposition. The spirit neither disappears not diminishes nor changes when the body is destroyed.
The body, until its end, is in continuous transformation, whereas the spirit never changes. It cannot be identified by anything other than the body it inhabits. There is no identification without appearance; therefore, it is essential for the spirit to have a form. Yet if the spirit becomes fully identified with a specific body, it cannot return to its origin. – Sheikh Badruddin

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