Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Song of the Pomegranate-Eater (1)

"Darfur" © 2016 David Prashker
To listen to an audio recital of the poem, click here

A city of clouds rises above the desert sky
ambushing a crescent moon
condemning the night to total dark
as surely as day will later be
condemned to total light

Behold! the scarecrow comes a-marching
bearing its scythe across the lilac field
rattling its bones at dead of night

Behold! the executioner steps forward
anonymous beneath his cap and gown
listening for the klaxon and the knell

Behold! out of the wintry sky
an ark like Noah’s Ark sails forth
(as if pursuing the obliterated moon)
an ark like Noah’s Ark -
     save that it has no flood
          no mount
no rainbow for its destination
an ark like Noah’s Ark -
becalmed upon these foamless waters
marooned in crimson sky

Behold! this is no chariot of fire
but the ship of death
sailing towards me...


Now I
I have become
a stranger to the wind
a stranger to the smoke
a stranger to the sand and dust
homeless as Esau in the wilderness of Sin

I have become
this displaced nomad
rendered sedentary by the green of the oasis
and the abundance of a well

I have become
this feckless dreamer
who created God in his own image
learned Torah from the desert springs
learned Talmud from the cacti

I have become
this unmasked killer of the creative urge
who drags the past along behind him
like a rabid jackal on a steel chain
that stretches all the way from where? to Egypt

I have become
and been
and now it is my turn to decline

ever downwards
through the last spiral
to the last gyration
of death’s hourglass
among the sands of time

Call me Argaman
Call me Shichrer
Call me Yehudah Ha Nachri

These punctures on my arms
are from the thorns of roses

This scar you cannot bear to look upon
is the torn veil of my forehead’s temple

This doom you cannot endure
this fate, this final destiny
(this bang? this whimper?)
this mere nothingness -
it is nothing but the end of Man


Lupus, Marja, Argaman, Ayishah, come to my bedside and make a space for me inside your memories. My time is almost come. Make a space of blessing for me. Make a space of earth for me, six feet by three. This is the Will of Argaman, and you are its Executors and its Inheritors. Make the world a better place because of me. Because I lived and breathed and wrote and killed and loved and painted and poured blood out of my own wounds into all the wounds I opened. Because of all this, make the world a better place. For me.

The original photograph on which "Darfur" is based can be found in "Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan", powerHouse Books, ed Leora Kahn.

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