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This article is taken from PN Review 217, Volume 40 Number 5, May - June 2014.

Two Poems Gabriel Levin

i.m. S.H.

How it dips its feathered oar in the slipstream
as we’re ferried across the straits, latching its eye
on an airy morsel tossed from the deck and snatched
in its crackerjack bill. One last sidelong
glance – fore and aft – and it veers off from the wake
the ferry churns swinging round to dock.
It’s a toss-up which way to turn once we’ve found
our land legs. Unscrambling the signs

gets us only so far. Can’t we just knock about
the place a bit? Have a heart. A room, a bed,
a meal to chase away the fumes from the crossing.
The House of Proclus couldn’t have stood
far with its abraded reliefs – you know the sort:
hands drawn in filial grief, barley cake offerings,
a serpent lured out of its omega coil sips
at a foaming bowl. Dew of the vine.

Reading Nasir-i Khusraw

for Eric Ormsby

Between plum and cherry tree a tourbillion
of gnats: winged, predicative, a slipknot
of twilit naughts. The garden holds untold
promises as I step over acrid cat-droppings raked
into baby mounds to peer at the dwarf
princess lilies. Jurjani solicits manifest tokens
of the tacit world, and you,
                                    O subtle expositor,
proffer Kan! (Be), delighting in the fruit
trees planted in tubs on the Cairene rooftops.
   How the seven lights ...

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