Khaled Mattawa
Khaled Mattawa
Two poems

MUSE OF LEPTIS MAGNA

Not even angels can traipse past,
their paws scrape the ground,
their wings bump into columns and statues,
and when they come close
their eyes bulge, ready to leap out of
their sockets back to heaven’s shade.
Only mortals can enter these halls.
Fear and resolve silent like guards,
the air and light are so pure
you can see a drunk’s stupor
steaming out of his head.

Every word that had come to me
remains in my chest’s wardrobe.
I’ll gladly give them back.
But soon the echoes will begin
to compose you. They will lay
before you objects you thought
buried away into your cave’s pool.
When your life towers before you then,
be sure to stand in its shade
and when it teeters, as surely it will,
raise an arm to hold it up.




HOW I LET THE NIGHT BEGIN

I travel into a storm
                as if toward
a shape  of my hand beckoning.

In it are faces I’d lingered upon,
                then flicked away like flies,
or stories I never saw ripen and unfold.
 
There are griefs to choose from and friendships
                that  rendered me
like a shop owner with riches on display.  

The stones I’d carried evaporate into half spirit,
                half mist,
unburdened by their particularity.  

And the unfeasible, as if it were my hands’ work,
                articulates itself
by simply falling into my arms.

This is how the night begins: voices swell,
                houses placate,
my blood scampering to build encampments, digging wells.

I let the night slide into me
                and break
into herds and clans tussling through seasons and hours.

I let it people me with uncharted joys,
                and catastrophes
drawn taut, pulled to fraying.

And it goes on tumbling, naming grass shooting
                up April fields,
naming my calling, climates that grow into labyrinths.