Michael Rothenberg

Atop Musee de l’Institut du Monde Arabe facing Notre Dame
Under steel, glass, salmon tapestries draped between palm
Fronds, I eat lamb in clay casserole of prunes, nuts, astrolabe
Forbidden magic texts, celestial spheres, astrological manuscripts

Windows a mosaic of optical shutters adjusting to hours of
Light and night, scales, Koran, oil lamps, fragments of funereal
Stele, Kurdish tapestries, The Hunt, The Flower, The Court
Funereal frieze, funereal column, tile, Tunisia, Syria, Iran

Yemen, Morocco, Egypt, Jew, Christian, Islam, savoring every
Bubbling forkful of lusterware glass and pottery, crystal handled
Dagger imbedded with rubies, pearl, gold filigree necklace
Stuffed with perfume, hare, fish, lion, calligraphic morsel rescued

From House of Wisdom, illuminated, dipping a sweet baguette
I buy a few postcards, admire the flying buttresses of Notre Dame
Cross the river again to sit in a park. It’s very warm. A man feeds
Pigeons, which one expects in a park. The pigeons eat their feast of crumbs.





Dizzie Gillespie and Joan of Arc wing
through invisible curtains

Squirrel taps the fence
for more sunflower seeds

            The congregation kneels
            at the edge of the great chasm

Wake up, Goddammit!

I dive into the aquarium
Read poetry to the sharks

How did transparency get so complicated?

                       Scorpion on the sink

I discover something permanent
But don’t know what to do with it

Various petunias hatch from my skull

What do you believe in?