from Arachnid Sun

Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine

Description of a Flag

                                     to Mehdi Ben Barka

icterus of lamps disintegrating the plasma of illusion
& the rain’s prowl across me cast
in the erected sap of sky & snow
disheveled by a deity painted upon my cramps
for chrissakes the nudes licked up around my faith teardrop illusion
in the fine-print which unfurls the rectum of my country
hung by its hooves like some sacrificial ox
I erase the oblique note of your righteousness
& hoist a casket of mint & thyme
o earth softly reacquired under this ancestral vice
vast cry when we would clamber up the white stone
the most gorgeous of those under the air in our pockets

hop to it nine heads &
this nail which bleeds out my eye

death is a tobacco leaf
you pontificate the swamp death is audacity

hop to it heads &
this nail which catches my eye

death is a kaleidoscope
where you interrogate your navel-gazing
having grasped the wormy oversight of your myriad
of birds buttoning up the asbestos
from days you scorch & from nights you peel

o hop to it how many punch-drunk
hunger pangs the bay of memory
this morning left untreasured

your face already locked down
the sun like a frenzied almond tree
inside the shiver of myriapods
& we were unique amongst those
watching the insects’ throne decline
to the level of an ascending island’s hurrah
in sea-blood sizzling with joy

& now
you yourself like a reed whose scarab speaks its strength
through song

icterus of lamps disintegrating what’s known of illusion
solar disturbance stripped from the barbaric fabric of the post-reign
we rouged & signed
with the star the flying gazelle that very day
we were driven into the desert’s erysipelas

sudden death in truth you raise up your root-system
into my unpredictable shadow where they give you fanatical looks
the precipitating men of Sakia-Hamra
on the chergui wind whose Seine enveloped you

spider-eggs perfuming the silence the dictator
pale killer on the cusp of despair
the Bou-Regreg tells you to disperse & whereas
your blood continues to chuckle at the public enemy
vengeance dries throats
from marbled eyes tempered in the cauldrons
of a life that snaps shut high & simple
to curse
harpoon the king-shark who
flees the riverbeds of polar scrubland
& gnashes on occasion
his resentment like marbles bursting asunder
unlucky soot king
constriction of illusion
of always sifting the flag of blood
of song that marches through our entrails


the wheel of the sky slays so many eagles except for you
blue blood
who roam around inside the heart of highways anointed
by synaptic hyenas—out of the mica slides a fresh infancy
& skinks my old nopal-esque fingers
into the jeopardy of stars looped to my navels
old nopal
poorly crowned by my falsely matured dreams
without an outlet
the simoom wouldn’t dare revise my hatred
for I speak entranced transmutations
for I’m erecting a thunderbolt in the grey wall of the wee hours

among the basil I’m binging on—corpses
dredged up from geologic fears
leading into a roundabout
forgetfulness that itches me just under the thumbnail
the wheel of the sky & the cheap virgins
through the fetid bars of my throat’s cage
through my voice I swamp myself surreptitiously endorsing
a pearly-handled history
through the sour milk of peregrination

I’m going to crush you pygmy famines
rhythmically as a speechless hand
I’m going to stomp you out
so go ahead & puke our pearly teeth soiling
the costly serving ware from which my sacred blood
of constricted noon spills its populous ant hill
earth underneath my tongue
like a peasant’s logic
silence saws the heads of moons falling
into my serpentine caresses
& sinks its teeth directly into the custom officer’s black lips
squirted from a long-tailed corruptible seps
friendly enough although
a timeless rogue
of your dilapidated grips of seaweed
of your norms
of your receipt of names having kept
a sparkle of the names’ pure crystal
of those movement of your twenty legs
of your humidity
coming out like a wing

Europe fabricates you into an asthma of sand
& gutters
with its fatal rat tail
heading out to catch the last act of winter
miracles do not bend the will of the sky’s wheel


it’s a life but it’s a life rather like a villainously clawed crow
latching onto your qurans of inconceivable naptha
to panegyric kuwaitians
& the eggshells of the stars squashed by misfortune

muslim I am to a point of autumnal fakirs
everything must go my entire alphabet my suits of lucule
I’m sealed off from those explosions
from the sulfuric mines’ caving into the eardrums of waves

the listened-to liana
through the geysers of my cryptic blood & amberous
myrrh & revolts
the blows from a crosier from the sun the flagrant blows
in snake-like eruptions of boas
in perilous imbecility
my scum & shit body
my cut-throat soul
whatever street like a scar flowering umbilical cords
of pollen
it’s no weapon
this plant nursery of words without relief
it slays me the cross’ slapstick
following the sleepy drowse of cetaceans

I am the Ursa Major during ramadan swallowing
a gratin of sour larvae

but you had your nose in the tumescence of beriberi
unwrapping the vast river of gummy nights
my thoughts eroding into the timpani of bundled-up nerves

my heart’s a phlegm
my name a white fig tree through the eyesight of mosquitos
opposite everything you’ve heard about stamens
your flesh chanted into insults
lousy argan tree of barbary
I labor
in your pupils’ caviar
I circle & unknot your smile made of henna
dove with dragonfly wings counting down his era
to the gas beak of city shelters
where you sprain my dawn with a redness
chewed into liquored-up brawls
with an acrid trace of incongruous reins
presenting me with the last mirage of the flute’s
flaming hisses inside shorn wind
that mustang pining
after epitaph-less chests

it’s a life but it’s a life from inside your blood
gnawing the imminent monsoon

translated from the French by Jake Syersak

© Éditions Gallimard, Paris, 2009