The Cup

The woman turned the cup upside down
among the letters.
She extinguished the lights except one candle
and placed her finger on the cup
and repeated words like an incantation:
O spirit . . . If thou are present, answer Yes.
And then the cup moved to the right for YES.
The woman said: Are you truly my husband, the martyr?
The cup moved to the right for YES.
She said: Why did you leave me so soon?
The cup moved to the letters—
She said: Why didn’t you escape?
The cup moved to the letters—
She said: Then how were you killed?
The cup moved—FROM BEHIND.
She said: And what will I do now
with all this lonliness?
The cup did not move.
She said: Do you love me?
The cup moved to the right for YES.
She said: Can I make you stay here?
The cup moved to the left for NO.
She said: Can I come with you?
The cup moved to the left.
She said: Will our lives change?
The cup moved to the right.
She said: When?
The cup moved—1996.
She said: Are you at peace?
The cup moved reluctantly to YES.
She said: What should I do?
The cup moved—ESCAPE.
She said: To where?
The cup did not move.
She said: Will we experience more misfortune?
The cup did not move.
She said: What do you want me to do?
The cup moved to a meaningless sentence.
She said: Are you tired of my questions?
The cup moved to the left.
She said: Can I ask more?
The cup did not move.
After a silence, she mumbled:
O spirit . . . Go in peace.
She turned the cup over
and blew out the candle
and called to her son
who was in the garden catching insects
with a helmet full of holes.

The Theory of Absence

The Hypothesis: I am tense and so are you.
We neither meet nor separate.

The desired result: We meet in the absence.

The proof: As tension turns people into arcs, we are two arcs.
We neither meet nor separate (the hypothesis)
so we must be parallel.
If two parallel lines are bisected by a third line
(in this case, the line of tension)
their corresponding angles must be equal (a geometrical theorem).
So we are congruent (because shapes are congruent
when their angles are equal)
and we form a circle (since the sum
of two congruent arcs
is a circle).
Therefore, we meet in the absence
(since the circumference of a circle
is the sum of contiguous points
which can each be considered
a point of contact).

Nothing Here is Enough

I need a parrot,
identical days,
a quantity of needles,
and artificial ink
to make history.

I need veiled eyelids,
black lines,
and ruined puppets
to make geography.

I need a sky wider than longing,
and water that is not H2O
to make wings.

The days are no longer enough
to distinguish the missing.
I no longer see you
because I no longer dream.
I offer a tear to the rain
as if scattering you
in the Dead Sea,
and in order to sing you,
I need glass to muffle the sound.


He plays a train.
She plays a whistle.
They move away.

He plays a rope.
She plays a tree.
They swing.

He plays a dream.
She plays a feather.
They fly.

He plays a dream.
She plays a feather.
They fly.

He plays a general.
She plays people.
They declare war.

The War Works Hard

How magnificent the war is!
How eager
and efficient!
Early in the morning
it wakes up the sirens
and dispatches ambulances
to various places
swings corpses through the air
rolls stretchers to the wounded
summons rain
from the eyes of mothers
digs into the earth
dislodging many things
from under the ruins . .
Some are lifeless and glistening
others are pale and still throbbing . .
It produces the most questions
in the minds of children
entertains the gods
by shooting fireworks and missiles
into the sky
sows mines in the fields
and reaps punctures and blisters
urges families to emigrate
stands beside the clergymen
as they curse the devil
(poor devil, he remains
with one hand in the searing fire) . .
The war continues working, day and night.
It inspires tyrants
to deliver long speeches
awards medals to generals
and themes to poets
it contributes to the industry
of artificial limbs
provides food for flies
adds pages to the history books
achieves equality
between killer and killed
teaches lovers to write letters
accustoms young women to waiting
fills the newspapers
with articles and pictures
builds new houses
for the orphans
invigorates the coffin makers
gives grave diggers
a pat on the back
and paints a smile on the leader’s face.
It works with unparalleled diligence!
Yet no one gives it
a word of praise.