The Inhabited World by Mohamed Chakmakchi

…………………………….
Ptolemy on the banks of Egypt’s Mediterranean shore, old drunkard,
weaning from the cosmos a guide for his treatise of relics.
This matter of the sciences, the natural philosophy that led him
to me, and conversely, me to you, to this, this inhabited world.
…………………………….
Each hour, those constellations blink and spurn knowledge,
I laugh out loud, hissing “thunder creaking forward into brains,”
like a splinter of thoughts, or an ice particle, in deference to
winter’s end, melting towards the center of reverie and vice.
…………………………….
Now on Ptolemy’s Alexandrian port where the ships led us to you,
And us to Syria there is a booth–Yes, that booth there!–where a boy selling
fruit hides in his pocket, buried beneath his linty smile, the truth.
That Eve was lost- the apple his now, inside it a worm for Ptolemy.
…………………………….
The stars only twinkle when the devil in his pocket smiles
Back his fanged hiss and hammer. The worm, spurned, swallows
The lint in the boys pocket and takes whole the form, the color,
Of Eve’s apple. “Why, the poor thing didn’t even know it was gone from her.”
…………………………….
So I speak in tongues and release the boy. It is my rotten apple now.
You keep the stars; their lives are not mine to hinder. But here
as Ptolemy wanders the barren fruitless ports of Roman Egypt,
Greek Alexandria sleeps a mid-day slumber, pockets for lint remain.
…………………………….
Tired and barren in our inhabited world. The devil has it!
…………………………….…………………………………………………….
Mohamed Chakmakchi is a writer of Iraqi origin who has lived in the US,
Europe, Iraq and the Arab Levante. He studied at NYU. When not raising
his cup with friends, he works on his novel, poetry, theatre and essays.
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