Saturday, March 17, 2012

from SPLIT THIS ROCK: Khaled Mattawa's "Now That We Have Tasted Hope"

Split This Rock 
Poem of the Week - 
Khaled Mattawa                                  
Khaled Mattawa                     
Now That We Have Tasted Hope

Now that we have come out of hiding,
Why would we live again in the tombs we'd made of our.....souls? 

And the sundered bodies that we've reassembled
With prayers and consolations,
What would their torn parts be, other than flesh?

Now that we have tasted hope
And dressed each other's wounds with the legends of our 
Would we not prefer to close our mouths forever
On the wine that swilled inside them?

Having dreamed the same dream,
Having found the water behind a thousand mirages,
Why would we hide from the sun again
Or fear the night sky after we've reached the ends of
Live in death again after all the life our dead have

Listen to me Zow'ya, Beida, Ajdabya, Tobruk, Nalut,
Listen to me Derna, Musrata, Trables, Benghazi, Zintan,
Listen to me houses, alleys, courtyards, and streets that
.....throng my veins,
Some day soon, in your freed light, in the shade of your
.....proud trees,
Your excavated heroes will return to their thrones in your
.....martyrs' squares,
Lovers will hold each other's hands.

I need not look far to imagine the nerves dying,
Rejecting the life that blood sends them.
I need not look deep into my past to seek a thousand.....hopeless vistas, 
But now that I have tasted hope
I have fallen into the embrace of my own rugged.....innocence.

How long were my ancient days?
I no longer care to count.
I no longer care to measure.
How bitter was the bread of bitterness?
I no longer care to recall.

Now that we have tasted the hope, this hard earned crust,
We would sooner die than seek any other taste to life,
Any other way of being human.
-Khaled Mattawa 

Used by permission.

From Beloit Poetry Journal 
Spring 2012 - Split This Rock Edition
Order this special issue now from the BPJ website for only $5.00. The issue will also be available for sale at the 2012 festival. 

Khaled Mattawa is originally from Libya. The author of four books of poetry, most recently Tocqueville, he is the translator of nine volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry. He is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship Prize for 2010 and a 2011 United States Artists Award. Mattawa teaches at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Mattawa will be reading at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, March 22-25, 2012.

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