Other notable work by Laala Kashef Alghata.
There may have been an underworld of images
known only to tribal priests, mediums
between visible reality and the spirit world…
I return to you mountains
But not as I once did,
Through valleys, along ridge-tops,
In green verdure, flushed with youth.
Today I travel
With the mind’s eye,
A traverse in time to a place
Preserved in memory.
But a sigh in your life
From when God first formed you
Like a rune in molten rock.
I read you still,
Although now I read you slowly,
Savoring your word of God,
Being read and reread,
Like a breeze coming toward you
On the surface of the lake.
What I saw then
I felt more than saw.
And what I know now
I sometimes fear can slip away.
So I sing your praise with this pen,
You were my gate to the underworld.
- * *
It was not a dark cave
That we set out for
When we left for the gorge.
In fact, we set out with nothing
But the blank slate of our youth
Open to the day.
I still see:
‘The quartz flash
In the fractured pattern
Of light and shade’,
As the path winds slowly downward.
Rock outcrops appear
And hemlocks wider than our
Disappearing into canopy.
We could hear the river,
Not an angry rush,
But a steady running,
As if this place had always known water.
And we looked to our feet,
As we balanced on the tilting rocks,
Wet with moss,
Below broken cliffs
Where the hemlocks climbed
Like temple columns.
And we realized
That below us, unseen,
Ran the river,
A life-beating vein in the underworld.
- * *
We were youthful then
And did not stop long with your song.
We talked of how you surely roared,
Gushing with the weight of melting snows – and moved on.
And yet, it is to that moment
That I return,
To the sound of the life-blood
That I heard below my feet.
And I sense that sound,
Imprinted in memory –
Cut in cracked-granite runes
Of your mountains.
Give me your words!
Give them up.
Give me the alchemy
To make them clear,
To assemble them in idea.
Make me your voice.
The Remaining Question
We see it in
The bulls that leap
Across the walls at Lascaux.
We see it etched in bone,
In the decoration of a tool,
The mark of our birth.
We are 5000 generations
Since Eve walked this earth.
Yet it is only now in
This age of the ego, that we
Look back, cast our camera obscura,
Upon the outline of the hand print,
The negative space of the palm flesh once
Pressed against the stone.
We gathered for the dancing of the seasons.
Our bare feet in the cool sand of a darkened shore
Below black sky and a river of stars,
As the shadows of our dances,
Etched in firelight, wove their counter-dance
Upon the broken sand.
We were always a chosen people,
Those blessed with righteous strength, with powerful Gods.
We have lived for so long in this idea of blood.
That the property of our being belonged
To those who came before us,
Name upon name, chorus upon chorus.
That recitation which proved our oneness,
And defined by their absence those who were not.
- * *
100,000 year pass, perhaps more,
And then a stick bites the
Rich, black under-earth,
Cuts the first jagged furrow,
And a new world rises in the steam
Of a cool, wet spring,
From this histories follow:
Hector’s body behind the chariot of Achilles
Before the doomed walls of Troy,
The stone shadows of the dead
Chiseled from the volcanic rock
Of buried Pompeii.
The initials found among the high branches of a copper beech
In East Providence, 1963.
They come like drops of rain
In a torrent you suddenly hear
Seconds before you feel its weight.
And they become icons,
Relics of witnesses to the shockwave of now.
A point of dusty scholarship,
A moment of wistful sorrow,
And a child’s simple question.
What remains is buried deep within us,
Beyond name, beyond generations,
Primal in the code of its sequences
Imperative in its sway.
We have been carried to this moment,
The product of biological directives,
And now we hesitate,
For suddenly our actions,
Once graced with divine determinism,
Seem fragile and tentative,
Lost in the relativism of
A billion populations of one.
- * *
In the struggle to know ourselves
Darwin, the man of God,
The fact of this
Cannot dispel the reach of the sequences,
From the composition of our blood
Beating under the drumming
Of the heart muscle to
The Transforming art of language,
The matrix of knowledge.
Why should these sequences not reach
Into our very thoughts, bending
The ego under the cover of
There can be no conquest of their reach,
Nor should we seek to sever our connection
To that most primal of principles,
The principle of change.
The random sequences of PI ripple
Through the wave of its calculation,
Finding expressions – Wolfram waves –
In triumphant multiplicity.
On The Wind
And from the moment
Of recession, settling
Out of the sound clutter of everyday,
Out of the metallic urgency of living,
A voice of infinite timbre,
The word a cascade in tongues.
Know it in the moment
Of almost stillness,
In the languid drift
Of the willow branch,
As if waiting and being
Had met in one touch.
A touch reaching the aspens, they who are
The first to speak, shivering like pennants.
As the wind-breath
Touches your face, probing
The surface of skin, seeking
Submission in knowing and belief,
That it might speak.
Whispering: “change, change…
As the sound-waves of prayer rise
From the Plains of Arafat,
In the swaying dreams of the Sufis,
The trees drift – their rhythm one manifestation
Of infinite transformations radiating
From the initial heartbeat of our universe.
And I in my oneness, hear
The word that is mine alone and everyone’s.
- * *
We all seek signs.
A Delphic word rising
From the shuttered evening’s dark
In the knowing voice of a god –
Granting a place for ourselves in this world
A reasoned way.
I hear the ancient lyre of Misia’s voice
In the Fado Tango – Da Vida Quero os Sinais.
For whom does the Fado speak?
The heart poured out like red wine
The withering blue flame of being rising in spent smoke
Memory, the taste of a lover’s kiss.
It speaks for all in the circle that runs
Through the Beloved and back to us.
I smell the fractured heart of autumn’s fall
In yellowing leaves overflowing Lydia’s hands.
The cup is old beyond words
Its flood clay fired in that first sacrificial flame.
The lips tremble at its nearness
Our hands old and young extended – fingers
An instinctive cup awaiting its touch
The draft we all must drink.
I taste the ripened sorrow that is my loss
This loss of one falling from unending loss.
I speak for those with no voice
Their lives forever fractured between
The heartfelt desire and the fulfilling act.
The crosses of their sacrifice propagate
Across the field of our being,
Sapling running quick with fire, pestilence and war.
I read this calligraphy of trees as
The cartouche of God made flesh – the Christian sacrifice.
There is a wind…
There is a fountain…
There is a wave…
Moving through all being
Hot with multiplicity
The divine breath of one.
I feel its touch – plasma of light
The presence of all possibilities.
- * *
Oh God of the infinite possibilities.
Oh God of the stars like dust.
Oh God of the ever-present moment of change.
Oh God of the quickened breath.
Oh God of the over-flowing fountain of hope.
Oh God of the opening leaves.
Oh God of the sea of compassionate tears.
Oh God of the breaking heart.
Stephen Ferreira has been writing poetry since 1969 when he stumbled on the translations of Ezra Pound. He has traveled the world extensively starting in 1974, visiting places as diverse as Laos, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, and many places across Europe and Central America. Stephen states “I think you will see these influences in the work I am submitting.”
“I have never been published and rarely seek publication. Poetry is a life work for me. I have a very successful career in business and poetry exists for me as transcendent medium beyond what is normally defined as a ‘career’. I must be honest and say that my poetry does not fit the model of contemporary poetry. In one sense I attempt to return to a more antique approach to the art, one in which the artist seeks to communicate viable ideas beyond the emotional connection that exists between all artists and those who would be partner to their work. My poems tends to the narrative format from which poetry was born so many thousands of years ago. The piece here is shorter than most. Along with a narrative, my poetry attempts to deal constructively with the theater of ideas, striving to directly engage the problems of philosophy that are always the undercurrent of our art and our lives.”
Laala Kashef Alghata-
Lola Dancing on the Roof of the Ritz
It was a first. Outside the landscape lay
dirty, drenched, white. We walked,
the world seeping into our boots,
our laughter spilling over:
or jam, dripping sloppily
falling like blood
your chuckle escaped in a hiss
flavoured the air, rose in steam,
caressing my cheek. My giggles
were crass, uncontrolled, wild.
He didn’t like it –
and I laughed,
to their chagrin.
The world was what it is:
a cover, an illusion. Your eyes
in the sunlight
like the moon
less predictable, you said).
Like the moon, I insist. Full
of holes and caters. A hint
of a soul in its depths.
The sun hid behind the clouds.
Your eyes shone, bright
and disorienting. Always
a paradox, I said.
Ashes to Ashes
Stardust glimmers patterns
of eternity along a moonlit sky,
falling in loops and curves
at my feet, fearing seclusion.
The night turns ashes of grey,
colour failing this, the ceiling
of our thought, the moon
a crescent bubbling behind
the charcoal clouds.
Hope flees this battle scene,
joy runs fast on its heel
as despair murmurs, blowing
softy on my mind.
You tuck your hair
behind your ear,
offer your mind
on a plate.
You ask clever questions,
argue for Nietzsche
and disregard Rothko.
You flick the ash
off your cigarette.
I stretch my legs
and kick off my shoes,
offer my heart up
to be torn.
I ask about empathy,
and why Jefferson
included the pursuit
of happiness with liberty.
We sip our glasses,
pour the drinks,
laugh without restraint.
We’re dubbed Becky
and we take offense,
untuck our hair
slip on our shoes
down past the chill
on the sidewalks.
I associate green with death.
I have never seen someone
die, though I have watched
the slow decay of souls
and their hands, white knuckles
clawing at Life, trying to hang on
on this side of it all, spitting
at the angel of death.
When he died, I arrived seconds
after the undertaker left;
I never saw his body, but
the destruction he left
in his wake was palpable,
his wife in a corner, back stiff,
cheeks as dry as the Sahara sun
as her daughter grabbed
at the air, trying to anchor his soul
in the Amazon of her tears.
A January day. The phone rang.
My father’s voice on the line,
the words washing over me. I thought
we still had time — he didn’t tell me
that it was done. It was over —
So I dressed and waited
for him to arrive, went to be
by my grandfather’s side
to watch death happen —
to say goodbye.
All I saw was a green poster
fluttering on the wall. Sheets
pulled over his body, a lump of white.
My face a home for the Amazon
and the cries rising in crescendo
as they lifted him
up, up, and away.
Laala Kashef Alghata is a poet and novelist. She is the editor and founder of the online magazine, Write Me a Metaphor. Her latest book, “Behind the Mask: A Folded Heart” is a poetry and prose collection available through Amazon.co.uk. She is a poet-in-residence at Soul to Soul, Argonaut’s Boat and The Peregrine Muse. Her work appears online in All Things Girl, Argotist Online and SubtleTea, among others. She is finishing a new poetry collection and is working on her second novel.