Cairene Sloth Song by Khaled Mattawa

Willow Springs 33

Found in Willow Springs 33

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By the time basil grew on my shoulders

I had become a sloth

Listening to the gold beaked-angel

Fight it out with the cuckoo bird.


Brooding nights followed translucent afternoons.


Forgive my pigeons, and the tree climbers

Who never stop wailing about the liquid age.

What else is there but to live

The nightmares of eminent seers?


I say unto you my people

This is a time assailed by a traveler,

Rocked to sleep by the pulse of his thoughts.

The princess waited for centuries.

The king died on his ox.


My hands spin a blue dres for you, Lucinda,

A thread pulled from frostbitten gardens

And calcified dunes. I follow

Soldiers and evening bells.

I feel the absent fear return

Bearing an address inscribed on the corner

Of the eye, chicken hearts.


This will always remain

An October swindled from the lower notes

Of the flute, from clay drippings

And ears of corn. I'm writing

The silent diary of a lantern

Fueled by a plum. Here are the hands

Of a peasant singing the protocols

Of basement rats.


I take to the river.

I tend to my punctured fur.

Damned arrows of stimuli!

I crossbreed the vernacular

With howling wolves. Then

The dying stumps bring about

A change of wind. Flocks of eunuchs

Begin picking cotton. I hide

In the trench of the button hole.

In the box there are broken

Urinals and vials of perfume.

My pocket is full of rapture and excess.

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