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12.31.08
When the Mimes Left for Paris








          road:   fissure opening lengthwise
     
                  gypsies:   descendants of fog
     
                  dogs:   forays from ditches, howling
     
                  hayricks:   confidence men & pagan
     
                  poplars:   silken garments kept in trunks




The man with a bear came up to the carriage. He called out and the bear stood on its legs and pawed at the wood, mewling.










     
     
     
     
                  fable:   a weakness of the heart in children, treatment unknown
     
                  bandit:   spice used to preserve gamey meat
     
                  jewelry:   combustible root-stuff found under trees
     
                  teeth:   tethers upon the month, related to spandrel
     
                  humor:   a Gaelic shell in which the sea cannot be heard




O Moon bearing salt, O Salt-bermed Moon, hanging crooked from the sky, fulgent, full of untold influence!










     
     
     
     
                  pathos:   a look back over your shoulder
     
                  stormclouds:   congregants of evangelical fervor
     
                  plow:   to believe in night, to practice sorcery
     
                  earth:   measure of music, tuned to welkin
     
                  culture:   labial common in old languages




He had five Pomeranians he had taught various tricks. They wore bells around their necks that tinkled as the carriage bore over the rough road.










     
     
     
     
                  barter:   foreigner caught without passports
     
                  silver:   girl of winsome smile
     
                  handshake:   forgotten testimony of dreams
     
                  shadows:   where the skiff bands rest
     
                  river:   desire, incalculable in math




He called himself Telemachus. I found him with his “telecamera” trained upon the shores at daybreak—










     
     
     
     
                  twilight:   danger and shuffling
     
                  passage:   linnet glen and bone-fire lit
     
                  ground:   when the clock is broken, when alone
     
                  drizzle:   happenstance, as in waking
     
                  steeples:   seldom, if ever, anywhere but the horizon




The old wheels sluiced through suck-mud. The barber, hearing of her disorder, prescribed a phlebotomy.










     
     
     
     
                  history:   localizing effect, contingent upon water
     
                  brutal:   mountains empty of bears
     
                  hilt:   where you are, at any given time, in relation to death
     
                  sanctity:   figure of speech of antique use
     
                  advent:   diamond, or a gown of cotton lilies




A lone figure with lion medallion stopped the carriage. He performed a satirical skit on what he said was being played in Paris those very days. No one knew. He clambered into the carriage; the women gripped their jewelry, and the man with the Pomeranians hazarded a smile. 
 

With Aftab Ahmad, Matt Reeck has translated Mirages of the Mind from the Urdu of Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi (Vintage India, New Directions), Bombay Stories from the Urdu of Saadat Hasan Manto (Random House India, Vintage International), and Class Warrior—Taoist Style from the French of Abdelkébir Khatibi (Wesleyan University Press, Fall 2017). Poems and translations have appeared in Tripwire, Two Lines, Conjunctions, and City Journal (Karachi). He is coeditor of Staging Ground Magazine.