Selected Poems


Youssef Alaoui

Now Drapes Close

winks from folds
in the studded sky

Now drapes close
somewhere the mirrors
a few lurking stars

A polished can
icy alley
thick with piss

Pointed rooftops
each pushes a window
into the sky

Beyond the highest loft
some round
between baroque curls

She dresses in black and gold
over clay tones
then undresses

suicide is a sexy devil
who knows your name

winks from folds
in the studded sky

Now drapes close

Faux Amis

en cas d'affluence
n'utilise pas
le strapotin

in case of affluence
do not use
the strapiton

use someone else's

Evening Airplane Ride

Twilight. Evening descends the staircase in a dark gown with a trim of rose mist dressing her tails on smoky purple skies. We approach the nighttime event horizon. Now is night. Catalog and display of all the lonely places lit up in tangerine dots quilting the land until the ocean. Until the nothing.

God and Bosch

have come to the same conclusion about one another creo que ud. canta su huevos propios : H U E V O S : bosch, god. down the chute smash glitter egg shoulder chair pumice crag devil pumps his kin into a side of beef it was your auntie giggle titties 's a cryin' shame jerk out a pile of small buildings aimed at hope drifting envy donkey, cough up folded wheel starlit cavern soldier fart a vase of liquid mausoleum erected unwholesome memories taunted out of scripture butter/blood sausagey coils ape eats ass of demon lips that go bloom, bloom, bloom torpid tunnel hill fire smog belch hate canopies catch exploding pistol tape pocket guts over entry flower your eyes

Idea For A Poem

swallows hard
and takes a look
deep within itself.

Water finds that its interior is the sistine chapel.


Water in the ocean-
     Area of ceiling 1:
	heavenly skies (thoughout)
     Quality:  ether of genesis
     Color: lapis blue

     Area of ceiling 2:
	descent into hell
     Qualities:  ocean depths, destroyer of things
     Color: black

Water in a river-
     Area of ceiling:
	the flood
     Qualities:  delivers nutrients to earth; feeds earth,washes all away; living and dead
     Colors: red, gold, brown

Water in a faucet-
     Area of ceiling:
	congregation of waters/ temptation and expulsion from eden
     Qualities:  renewal, rebirth
     Colors: light blue (of zechariah's robe), eggshell white (of architectural details)

Water in a vase-
     Area of the ceiling:
	drunkenness of Noah
     Qualities: misguided ego, trapped in excess
     Color: yellow, burning red of sun

Creatures invented themselves within water and then left it.

Water follows and destroys the creatures and what they have made. 


Part One: The Lamb

The blood of the lamb we slew, on the day of your birth, flowed profusely. It was a deeper red than usual and poured out to bless the houses of our neighbors. It blanketed the tiny streets of our crowded city, ankle deep in thick purple mud, stopping traffic and soaking pedestrians.

The blood moved in floes. It heaped itself in corners and mounded against buildings in drifts and congealed there. It buried front doorsteps and rose as high as the flower boxes. The houses with blood up to their windows were seen as luckier families.

Over the following days, the blood was carefully scooped and cut, to be saved. It was said to bring baraka; good fortune. It was shaped and fired into the Hand of Fatima and bowls for ablutions. People made cups and plates out of it. But soon, there were warnings to not drink or eat from them. There was talk of people going crazy with delight from exposure, an almost drug-induced euphoria.

So people broke and buried the plates, for the clay was known to be connected to the devilish djinn of the dirt. The djinn are tricksters and attackers from the spirit world, who wait for a man, woman, or child to cross the dirt in the middle of the night on their way to the bathroom. That's when they slip under the skin and claw him to death on the spot, or it kills him slowly, by putting a disease into the flesh and the victim watches his limbs fall off one by one, over the years.

Yet other victims of the dirt djinn can be stricken in their sleep. They are found in the morning having strangled themselves and their lovers. To prevent this kind of disaster, people broke and buried their plates, but it was difficult. People are covetous. Some chose to hide them. They saved only a few pieces each. They were beautiful. They were famous for their peculiar dark purple hue, and perfectly smooth, for the clay had no grains. It was as pure a material as any fine glass or china. To preserve the plates and save the families from harm, they were nervously tucked into tiny crawlspaces under the houses, yet above the ground and out of reach from the dirt djinn.

Among those who held on to their stoneware, some would gather in secret late at night. They needed do nothing more than serve milk in the bowls and sellu on the plates. Sellu- a crumbly pastry of toasted flour, nuts, butter, and cinnamon, which they would spoon into one another's mouth. And their gatherings would grow close and swelter, as if they had been smoking kif. Lights would dim on their own. And the pillows and sheepskins laid over the carpets on the floor would soon warm and soften. Incense burned and brought the walls in closer. The air would hang heavy and thick under the excitement released. Skin of male and female became revealed and may have also touched. Then drums and singing and dancing would ensue, accompanied by laughter and caresses within the blinding air, caused by a smoldering less from the incense and candles, and the depth of night, than from the dancing bodies of those involved.

But the purple stain of those plates and cups is always ignored. It's still a problem. Families hand them down as heirlooms or they manage to escape on their own from the futile grasp of their zealous protectors, snatched away by thieves or by the wretched djinn of the dirt. The results of that clay were in the newspaper regularly for six years and we still hear about it today. Young married couples who do not know the origins, or why to not drink or eat from their dark and exquisite porcelain, are left victim to the blood of the lamb that flowed in your honor. Your blood. Their happiness is forever marred by the black magic of your birth.

Part Two: Blood

But my father, your grandfather, pulled a talisman from the belly of the lamb- a solid piece of wound-up grass, formed like a man, with arms and legs and a head. It was deemed good. A good time to be born. And a better time to celebrate. The winter of your birth was dry, but rains soon fell in the mountains and fattened our rivers. We hung the meat high, testicles out, to be admired and to drain completely.

Mother says there were such mounds of couscous that it burst from the pots it was cooked in. But I don't remember. We filmed this day. Someone filmed it. I don't know who had the camera. Maybe you did. The newborn. You were so far away and we heard of your birth almost by accident.

You were born, they cleaned you up and brought you home, then months later, your father finally called my father and we celebrated. We ate our fresh-brined olives and bread, and the couscous, and we had slaughtered a lamb. Same as they would for any of us. As they did for me twenty months before. But no one filmed it.

I hate you. I hate you as if you were my twin, even though we are more than a year apart. I hate you, and because you are like my brother, but I am your uncle, you are my nemesis. I am really you the way you should be.

I saw you in that film! I swear I saw your shadow swimming there, lolling in the currents of blood as it touched our neighbors' doorsteps! That fresh wry look of the new little baby spirit they were all so proud of- welcome to us, welcome to the world! was the song we sang for you. But I saw that smirk you carried. I smelled it too, rising within the fumes of the roasted lamb, when it was served after prayers, and before a delirious evening's worth of dancing. My brothers offered me chunks of the beast, but it was rotten with your smirk- that same smirk you showed up in thirty years later, and for the first time!

In his final years, your father gave up hope in retrieving you, the far-flung seed from the increasingly inconceivable horizon. I called you to let you know when he died. How else would you know? His death was actually a relief. For everyone. He had been sick for fifteen years. I'll show you where we laid his marker once you return.

You haven't seen the film. You may never see it. You tell us you will, but we think you do not plan on coming back.