Youssef Alaoui

I awoke on the same island
I was born upon, Lesbos
we had been asleep, the both of us
for thousands of years
before the people came

Not destroyers, but builders
they came in droves
I told them that poetry
was born here
Sappho was our mother
they said, bread shop here and housing here
we will build it
you will see

Groping from an account of emptiness, they added,
we drive tree river galaxies
only to die and to be born again
we must retake possession of the signs

 Desert fathers of Nineveh
would never have predicted
the fate of this miraculous island city
on the brink of god, edge of death

They never got the chance
they were imprisoned, then swept
up to the mainland and scattered
so scattered

Religion wins with clouds of talons
riding the god train, flooded with men of understanding
yes they were we, I, you, it
dragging the sky down low

So let’s say they take my lips away
they take my mouth away and what if
they take my brains away I will scream

With my skin and bathe
at the ancient cistern
of those who tried and died

My sister nation is every nation
the skies we share ring with such wild screams
not god now, but pain not love or understanding

A murdered “I” flits and crawls
the tip of a stem, receives the sun
dries her wings, leads her to daisies
where she injects her tongue

And nectar rushes
Forth the flowers
drumbeats calling
bloom bloom bloom



YOUSSEF ALAOUI’s books are The Blue Demon, Death At Sea - Poems, and Fiercer Monsters, and the full length poetry collection, Critics of Mystery Marvel. He earned an MFA in Poetics from New College of California, Mission District, San Francisco.