(from) Better Than Sleep: A Yard Behind A Bar, Casablanca, Afternoon

Sometimes I sit here ithyphallic,
god of the beasts.
The flies attend
and tortoises when in the mood
bite.
A geranium they threw out blooms.
We commune.

If flies were bigger, didn’t wait –
like tortoises, say –
I’d be “food! I am food!”
white and gymnosophic.
Lord of the flies, a turbot head
begins to breed.

I smile. The geranium
nods.

(from) Better Than Sleep: Bruised Petals (3) – After years of the wandering life

After years of the wandering life,
In Paradise now I wait,
Knowing love come and gone,
Too late.

Years among thistles growing,
Thistles in bloom,
Beauty tearing and pushing,
Make room!

This is the Garden of Love
This is Paradise, Hell
The garden where all loves end.
Look well.

Hell to an angel above
But I, born without wings, chose
To find in the Garden of Love
A rose.

(from) Better Than Sleep: Bruised Petals (1) – Samara

Samara
une des fleurs du Jardin
peut-être pas la plus jolie
mais la plus gentille
et jolie, jolie, jolie comme une rose
in autumn
tired, overblown
but soft, and sweet
so soft so tired-sweet
I felt for her
thought I would pluck her
take her home with me,
love her

Samara
aime les hommes riches
peut-être pas élégants
mais riches, et libres
et liberaux:
je t’aime (elle dit), je t’aime, je t’aime, je t’aime
(elle n’a que ces trois mots de français)
fuck me!
(et deux en anglais) – Je t’adore
I murmur, neither variety
nor verity
being the spice –
Love me –
Mmmmmmmmmm

Real poverty is a sea –
it drinks and drinks
infinity
unaffected by the finite.
Infinitely poor
Samara
too
till I had no more
and she
as poor
as viced by poverty
as she had been before –
she laughed
love her

They took and sold
or kept
my everything
Le Jardin,
gave me a torn old djellaba
(Samara begged) let
me stay around
as long as I swept
and washed
and polished the leaves
slept in the cold
and didn’t try
to love her

Still

All I ever asked was Are you lonely?
Is there any way of helping you?
So you found some motive for my
Helpfulness: I loved you; yes
   Ah yes, how very true.

Am I such a fool? Are all men fools?
Is it the ego, id, or yang or yin,
So to desire something that’s denied us
Having had no hope of
   Any such thing?

As if one autumn afternoon at sunset
In a forest far from human view
Suddenly the birds should all fall silent, and
Half hoping still, I’d turn
   And look for you.

(from) Better Than Sleep: Sebah again, and Little Jim

Sebah in a velvet cloak
Comes out to take a look.

Out of the mainstream lifted
(she thinks)
And forever lost: better
Never to have left
The river of life
Best not for him, oh
Why he plucked from the pod
Spotted in the womb
Touched
By the finger of God?

Or (more likely) Look
At the silly sod.

Sebah in a velvet cloak
Out for a breath of air …

Reared in squalid rooms
In the New Medina slums
Without the taste of wealth
She doesn’t mind the filth
Knows well wealth now
In conscious contrast sits
Cloak open on a box, tits
Tipped with spangles shiny
In the bare bulb and oh those

Glossy knees and thighs
Doesn’t mind the flies
Looks at the night sky
Sighs a little sigh, smiles
Smoking a cigarette.

Rouses a tortoise with a toe
Throws me the end of the cigarette
Wet tip red
Playing with the tortoise’s head
Till it rears up hard
Nose nudging at the gold
Ankle chain hard and cold.
I chew the dead fag end
Extracting tongue, lips, hand
Taste till she gets up to go.

Sebah in a velvet cloak
A tortoise taking a look
At a star and flat dead
A crunchy mush, Little Jim. Sad
I scrape it all up and eat
Cafard à la sole of her foot
With the filter and – why not? –
Swallow it.

(from) Better Than Sleep: Claudia

Claudia (a transexual dancer I met in a night-club in Casablanca)

It is only in loneliness
that we write, write –
sheep bleating,
fleeing the unknown hole
blank page, open soul
dark at the edge of the stage

There is nothing you can do
for you, for me
I heard one punter say to her
but time in the slight red light of the bar till –

Welcome, I thought
Claudia
One day we shall be
mermaids, mermen –

The smilers of the right
their world a cage with bars of blinding light
peer nervously into the gloom
exchanging pleasantries

O Child of the Night
dancer, laugher
fighter

Prayer is not in the swimming pool
prayer is having no hold
is the fool plunging down fighting and drowning

Is better than sleep

(from) Better Than Sleep: Sebah

It’s very hot out here
in the little walled-in yard
behind the bar
in the afternoon
Will be cooler
when the call to prayer
floats down
Allāhu Akbar
in the distance
Allāhu Akbar
Ash hadu Anna lā
Ilāhā Illa ‘Llāh …

The tortoises, troglodite
burrow in under me
squirm in deserting
chicken-bone-strewn caves
between the dustbins
eager for company

Sebah:
“Un de ces jours,” she said when we kissed. Ah oui,
un de ces jours …

A square of sky
a throbbing sun
a humming dustbin
bottle and still life yard

If it weren’t for the tortoises
I’d sleep
them and the flies

Would talk to the trees,
were there any trees

Un de ces jours …

A cockroach on a dustbin rim
a cucaracha was to her
a dirty cafard, nothing more
my Little Jim