Monastery of the Moon

Monastery of the  Moon

Dar Al-Jadeed
Beirut, Lebanon

76 pages, soft cover, 14cm x 21cm

ISBN 9953-11-04-9

Available from the poet.

Sample 1


(Neither homeland nor exile are words, but passions

of whiteness… If a poet were to compose a successful

poem describing an almond blossom, the fog would

rise from the hills, and the people would say: This is

it. These are the words of our national anthem.

—Mahmoud Darwish, ‘Almond Blossoms and Beyond’)

The Oasis Cafe opposite the departure gate -I sit,

laughing, crying with the same breath. If only I could

combine all whom I love into one. What I love in her

satisfies my desire. If instead I loved her desire, I’d

love her as myself. How long will you say no to me?

Stone falls on pitcher. Woe to pitcher. Pitcher falls

on stone. Woe to pitcher. No redress except at the

Post Restante of Time. Come now, beloved thief,

embezzle my heart. I sit at the Cafe, vacant, bereaved,

her eyes dimming in my mind, blue but now blurred.

I burn, something’s happened: dishes stacked, bed

made, a note on the kitchen table. Oh, to be held

before sleeping, again at false dawn. From the top

corner window of the Cecil Hotel where first we made

love, I see the harbour blue as Cleopatra’s lapis lazuli,

air blushed with coming of spring, as pubescent boys

polish Mother Egypt’s brass breasts under the statue

of Saad Zaghloul. Linen curtains shield the porthole,

distilling breeze through their fringes, relief for fevered

sleepers below. Something strokes me, if breath, if

hand. Solitary within our skins, whispers from prisoner

to prisoner, mirror facing mirror in an alabaster room,

a lit candle between. A sundered silk factory from Leb-

anon-stone, roof staved in, cedar beams strewn below.

Black crowned night herons devour the Ottoman moon.

Collapse the tents, leash the dogs, load up the animals, 

round up the little ones, what reports from the border, 

toss a rock into the pot. Nightjars chirr maniacally.

Memory embossed on granite, in soil: I remember

where I will be buried, amidst sage, mallow, thyme;

homesick for places unvisited, nostalgic for embraces

undreamed, reminiscence for what never happened.

The centre of the world where I stand, the world a

ladder: some go up, some come down. To recover

a word takes pain. Even martyrs love to walk the

Corniche at early dawn. A Palestinian son fishes

with his father, keeping the old man alive. Not his

land but that he cries to see the house he built,

draped in bougainvillea. Days of hope, days of loss. 

Now comes rain: mollifying rain, consoling, baptizing;

dear Muse, let me waken to rain. I see rainbows

at night cast by the gibbous moon rising. A sabre-

toothed moon enfolds the morning star against a

breath-stop sky. One day, all the mirrors broke.

Everyone seized a sliver, peered and shouted,

It’s me, it’s me!

The Queen of Sheba, exhausted, scorned bouquets

of jasmine, necklaces of gardenias, anthems

to her entrance. She wanted an oiled bath, silk sheets,

nothing more. The muezzin calls the faithful to

prayer. Prayer better than sleep. Touch her shoulder,

respect her opinion, don’t be childish, wait for her.

She will be a ruby to your safekeeping, a diadem

watching over you. She will know what you are.

I enter her as into glorious mystery. The ginestra’s

vulval flowers cast their delicate odour in a crescendo.

I revel in your skin, smooth as a foal’s, your perfumed

hair, your eyes – extreme blue – nevi on rising breasts,

and how we fit one another. We dream in synchrony.

Dream spinner, dream weaver – the glass bowl when

rung makes a murmur of prayer, tree-frog’s glissando,

bees in lavender. At the Oasis Cafe someone asks,

where are you from? I reply, I am from disjointed frag-

ments of time. Someone says, Answer the question.

I answer, I am from you. Someone persists, but when 

I’m gone? I say: / am from my words.

The Qaseeda is a lyrical poem from Arab and Persian traditions. One classical form comprises three sections, each conveying a different mood: a nostalgic nasib laments the loss of the beloved when encountering her deserted campsite; followed by the rahil, describing a material and metaphysical journey; culminating in the hikam, a moral resolution.

—Norbert Hirschhorn

Sample 2


Bone-white incense

glacial aroma of absence

chants strangled in the throat

Rising earth-light

blue angelic innocence

On the dark-side

the mad the maligned

the lost the possessed