Omar Berrada

Pax Babeliana
 

The ghost city is a field of rubble but at night it rises up
and up, re-erects its towers by night, its people its murals
its bridges.

                                     Marie Borel, Wolftrot

I’d speak if I wasn’t afraid of inhaling (...)
                                      Robert Smithson


A town full of holes
Munumental latencies
Ruins in reverse

In the Odyssey there is a pig
that speaks fluent Greek

Time is officially ended


La nuit après l'amour
L’aube avant la mort
La tradition se retire
Un désastre nous dévore


Mystical tide

Unholy tongue


I’ve spent a lot more time in my life swimming than writing
and I get cold, writing, a lot more quickly.

 

In the confusion
I seek
provisional light

 

In the confusion
I speak

لخولة أطلال ببرقة ثهمد

تلوح

 

Ruins

appear

 

أطلال ... تلوح

 

and fade

 

تلوح
 

Speaking in tongues

 

In Navajo there are three hundred fifty-six conjugations of a verb that translates as

‘to go,’ she says.

‘To be’ hardly even exists.


une folie sous surveillance
C'est le réel qui polyglotte
Palindromes et bienséance


The trace of a tattoo

on the back of a hand

 

لخولة أطلال ببرقة ثهمد

تلوح كباقي الوشم في ظاهر اليد

 

The trace of a tattoo

appears and fades

 

On ne coupe jamais
la main des artistes


In the desert
lightning is elegiac

 

يا بارق يا حارج يا ثهمد


In the desert
literature is civility


est une manière أدب

 

I'd speak if I wasn't afraid
of inhaling

 

يقولون لا تهلك أسي


Don't lose yourself
in grief

I follow

myself fleeing


fuir, là-bas fuir

a feeling


le pays qui me ressemble

 

in the Odyssey
there is a fawn
that speaks
fluent Greek

 

 

We embraced the world
before we knew it
Your ignorance will be your foundation

 

يقولون لا تهلك أسى

وتجلد


True fiction

false reality

Exit myth

 

Below the Hafa café
a highway was built

Tarmac ashes
Magic rubble

 

Exit the sea
Gone with the sun

 

لكل علم عمل بقايا وخفايا

 

Our fantasy found a form
in geography


Sous les pavés

l'asphalte

 

عرب وعجم وكلام وخمر

 

An erotics of words and wine
in عراق or in يمن
A Babel of sighs and brine

 

Il n'y a d'originel
que le malentendu

 

On ventriloque

 

We are the earth

et la terre n'est pas si ronde

 

Get me a map, now

 

“Nadie le vio desembarcar en la unanime noche”

 

 

Light
in itself
is silent

 

And this mirror is a masterpiece

 

Du lumineux
et de l'obscur
le mélange

seul signifie

 

Finally all reference vanishes
Your ignorance will be your foundation

– a sacrifice of matter

 

لخولة أطلال ببرقة ثهمد

 

تلوح

 

كباقي الوشم في ظاهر اليد

 

 

I'd speak
if I wasn’t afraid
of inhaling
a memory

 

ذكريات ... تلوح

All the Birds

(for Sarah)


1.

So many tombs
in the life of the self
Protect and save
Project and stave
off the time when
evening loosens
the gilt of her locks
Stanford, Clotsky
what’s with the Ts
the terrible Ts
the vertical bars
of a wooden crib
the linear chain
of authorities
family, religion
sacred transmission
the past speaks
in silence
Identify, then multiply

Half of me comes from here, half from everywhere


 

 

2.

Night paints a shadow
into your heart
a word hides a word hides a word

hides a silence put

your hand here I’ll

put my hand there
something marvelous
is bound to happen
larger than life
lines unhinge
the signs no
harm intended
Heretical healing

devotional treason
Humble humble reader
your gracious likeness I shall seek

Something heavenly has wounded the soul


 

 

3.

In the Odyssey
is a crow that speaks
fluent Greek
Let us rename all
the birds my love
a dictionary of silent screams
and the world will fly
to our hearts’ beating

The poem, the dream: our very lives


 

4.

Musiqa, musiqa
A button pressed
another turned:
she sways in circles
Velvet goldmine
Celtic dreamlands
it is we who fall
asleep to a film
soundtrack

A sheep by any other name...

 

5.

Long fingers holding
fast metal needle
black fabric fainting
from a sowing machine
logic of production logic
of collapse a plummet
into darkness
while in the courtyard
a plum tree grows

Technicolor puppets
Is that all
that heaven allows?
they know nothing
of gravity so says Kleist
they know nothing
but gravity:
take the stick out
puppet falls flat

Her experience of scale is always paradoxical

 

 

 

6.

You talk in your sleep
arms raised high above
your breath
a dance of hands
in silent air

Voices of the psyche racing through the flesh




7.

The museums there are empty
shells so said the scholar
from Syracuse lovely
outside ruins inside
Preserve and educate
is what we ask of you
engage and transform
Instead you lie quietly
out of date in
dejection unworthy
of thy name break
our hearts we
who believe
and remember
even the past
needs to breathe

Home is an intimate stranger




8.

Words erect
a barrier
at the core of intimacy
a tremor breaks the surface
with a life of its own
Some mornings are hard
and these are healthy
horizontal yearnings
now standing to shower
heads not our own
feel the pull of
gravity within us
we want to live
like trees
It is snowing
inside your body
and tamaas in your tongue
has a secret meaning

Can we share solitude without loneliness




9.

The cold
from the small of
your back
my hand
away
will blow

If we go to Texas we will come back naked