Djelloul Marbrook

Djelloul Marbrook

Djelloul Marbrook is an American poet, novelist, journalist and photographer. He is the author of 23 works of poetry and fiction. In 2007 his first poetry book, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Prize from Kent State University. Reviewing Lying Like Presidents, Selected and New Poems, Leaky Boot Press, UK, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye wrote in The New York Times magazine: His poems feel as connected as charms on a weighty silver necklace from an older country, passed down from the grandmothers. They shine with honest hope. The last line of this poem could be the anthem of 2020. And they’re also funny. “I am used to being old” carries no whine or chagrin. It’s just true.

Arab ships

Arab consonants sewn together,

supple as the sea sail westward

from the certainty of Basra restless

with their cargoes of vowels,

their diacritical pennants flying,

westward off the page

to the coquetries of dragons

and encounters with lapstrake

ax-swingers in cold waters,

Arab consonants bearing

all that started in Sumer

to marriage with strangers.

Consonantal ships dancing

on a watery stage, vowels singing

in their heaving holds,

tangs testing the limits of language,

sails chuckling about certainties

jettisoned to make way.

Arab consonants hauling

the future of mathematics

to Spain where there be dragons

and civilizations to build,

sailing fifteen points off the wind,

scaring Vikings with their agility,

looking very like dhows and zarooks,

foreshadowing caravels,

making our present likely.

Shabtis of Heracleion

I hear my name spoken halfway across the world,
it stirs my marrow to make green blood cells.

I feel creatures longing for me, separated at birth.

The diamonds I speak prefer to be emeralds.

My own song shatters me.

I hear my name broken, the pieces scattering
over the sea bed, murmuring in their grids
like shabtis of Heracleion.

I know this has happened millennia before
and that is reassuring only in the sense
that now I know something more.

Poetry in this post: © Djelloul Marbrook
Published with the permission of Djelloul Marbrook