June 11, 2020


Yusuf Saadi writes: I had just finished reading One Thousand and One Nights, where, famously, Shahrazad must narrate a story to the king in order to entertain him all night so he doesn’t kill her. I was thinking about the interaction of language and sensuality, the kinds of sensuality on the surfaces of language and beyond language, and how the body incites language and vice versa.

Pleasuring Shahrazad

In rosewater I rinse
my final words, dip
them into your body.
Your slow, saline drip
on my tongue. You eclipse
Medinan dates soaked
in honey, saffron rice
with diced pistachios,
a single pomegranate—
surah carved in Kufic
on each ruby seed.
Camphor recites its being
inside a kerosene lamp.

Don’t plead, simply ask
for pleasure pleated
upon pleasure past
tongue-winding rinds
around words.
Damascus musk settles
on damask pillows.
Iced watermelon wine
gushes in crystal glass.
Hebron peaches blush;
sea-coast lemons
            cleave in halves.
My nails moonrake
damp thighs;
again, I dine on
webbed-wet fingers.

Lips graze lashes, kohl.
On each closed eyelid
my tongue practises
its patient whorl
before I cherish
your perfect pearl.
I gave my day
dreaming of your
myrrh’s mystique.
Now my tongue
is to caress—
not to speak.

Pluviophile, Yusuf Saadi’s first collection, was published by Nightwood Editions in April, 2020 and is available through Harbour Publishing, Nightwood Editions, independent bookstores, and at https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/pluviophile/9780889713741-item.html. "Pleasuring Shahrazad" first appeared in The Malahat Review and in Pluviophile

June 2, 2020


Sadiqa de Maijer photo by Cat London
Sadiqa de Meijer writes: This is the title poem from my new collection. I've always liked the riddle of how to get the fox, goose and grain across the river, when some will eat the other if left alone. Older versions of that quandary sometimes feature a wolf, a goat, and a cabbage. I wanted to ask, particularly from a multi-ethnic and diasporic perspective, what if we look at that cargo, and even the landscape of the river itself, as internal to the speaker?

Sadiqa de Meijer

I saw that I would have to cross the river,
and that it was the Rijn.
I had a fox, a goose, a sack of grain.

I said, I love the gay men in kufiyas on the Rembrandtplein,
and the muted half of me, from a land of five converging waters,
with an upstream alphabet—
so what makes me yours
every night, slow current, floodplain
of drowning grass?

Then the goose was in the reeds. It had an egg.
Twigs and quills, the ruckus of two pulses.
The grain had blown into my field. Someone was claiming it.
And the fox was a vanishing streak.

I could take my name, but not my papers.
I could take the swept air, but not my breath,
or not in one load. My promises, but not the child
I’d made them to, unless I could bring something back—
but the weather, the barges, the clouds turning orange and rose.

 The Outer Wards, Sadiqa de Meijer's second collection, was published in April 2020 by Vehicule Press.