from The Nomads, My Brothers, Will Drink from the Big Dipper

Abdourahman Waberi

The Elixir of Exile

is going to Carthage to help understand
is the elsewhere saving the here
and now for happy days ahead
while waiting for time's salve
on scar-scalds of space


Here Is

where you hear the vibrato of Oum Kalthoum
where you harbor doubts about the Good Lord
and faceless neighbors
and where you'll swear to me to have heard the ghost
of the happy traveler
while waiting to drown your distress
                         in glasses
                         the color of pus 


the eye drinks, doesn't merely see
the eye grows quicker than the finger
achieves negative exploits
and even positive ones, agreed!
the eye perceives all around the hand of God
like silk the eye caresses things
man dies seated
upright or stretched out on earth hands crossed
feet in front and body stiff
life steals away like a thief 

Sketch II

repetition affirms identity
by seizing again
and not by imposing a rainbow
(that necktie of cosmic wedded bliss)
equally fleeting as fair 

translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson