Omar Berrada

Pax Babeliana

The ghost city is a field of rubble but at night it rises up
and up, re-erects its towers by night, its people its murals
its bridges.

                                     Marie Borel, Wolftrot

I’d speak if I wasn’t afraid of inhaling (…)
                                      Robert Smithson

A town full of holes
Munumental latencies
Ruins in reverse

In the Odyssey there is a pig
that speaks fluent Greek

Time is officially ended

La nuit après l'amour
L’aube avant la mort
La tradition se retire
Un désastre nous dévore

Mystical tide

Unholy tongue

I’ve spent a lot more time in my life swimming than writing
and I get cold, writing, a lot more quickly.


In the confusion
I seek
provisional light


In the confusion
I speak

لخولة أطلال ببرقة ثهمد






أطلال … تلوح


and fade



Speaking in tongues


In Navajo there are three hundred fifty-six conjugations of a verb that translates as

‘to go,’ she says.

‘To be’ hardly even exists.

une folie sous surveillance
C'est le réel qui polyglotte
Palindromes et bienséance

The trace of a tattoo

on the back of a hand


لخولة أطلال ببرقة ثهمد

تلوح كباقي الوشم في ظاهر اليد


The trace of a tattoo

appears and fades


On ne coupe jamais
la main des artistes

In the desert
lightning is elegiac


يا بارق يا حارج يا ثهمد

In the desert
literature is civility

est une manière أدب


I'd speak if I wasn't afraid
of inhaling


يقولون لا تهلك أسي

Don't lose yourself
in grief

I follow

myself fleeing

fuir, là-bas fuir

a feeling

le pays qui me ressemble


in the Odyssey
there is a fawn
that speaks
fluent Greek



We embraced the world
before we knew it
Your ignorance will be your foundation


يقولون لا تهلك أسى


True fiction

false reality

Exit myth


Below the Hafa café
a highway was built

Tarmac ashes
Magic rubble


Exit the sea
Gone with the sun


لكل علم عمل بقايا وخفايا


Our fantasy found a form
in geography

Sous les pavés



عرب وعجم وكلام وخمر


An erotics of words and wine
in عراق or in يمن
A Babel of sighs and brine


Il n'y a d'originel
que le malentendu


On ventriloque


We are the earth

et la terre n'est pas si ronde


Get me a map, now


“Nadie le vio desembarcar en la unanime noche”



in itself
is silent


And this mirror is a masterpiece


Du lumineux
et de l'obscur
le mélange

seul signifie


Finally all reference vanishes
Your ignorance will be your foundation

– a sacrifice of matter


لخولة أطلال ببرقة ثهمد




كباقي الوشم في ظاهر اليد



I'd speak
if I wasn’t afraid
of inhaling
a memory


ذكريات … تلوح

All the Birds

(for Sarah)


So many tombs
in the life of the self
Protect and save
Project and stave
off the time when
evening loosens
the gilt of her locks
Stanford, Clotsky
what’s with the Ts
the terrible Ts
the vertical bars
of a wooden crib
the linear chain
of authorities
family, religion
sacred transmission
the past speaks
in silence
Identify, then multiply

Half of me comes from here, half from everywhere




Night paints a shadow
into your heart
a word hides a word hides a word

hides a silence put

your hand here I’ll

put my hand there
something marvelous
is bound to happen
larger than life
lines unhinge
the signs no
harm intended
Heretical healing

devotional treason
Humble humble reader
your gracious likeness I shall seek

Something heavenly has wounded the soul




In the Odyssey
is a crow that speaks
fluent Greek
Let us rename all
the birds my love
a dictionary of silent screams
and the world will fly
to our hearts’ beating

The poem, the dream: our very lives



Musiqa, musiqa
A button pressed
another turned:
she sways in circles
Velvet goldmine
Celtic dreamlands
it is we who fall
asleep to a film

A sheep by any other name…



Long fingers holding
fast metal needle
black fabric fainting
from a sowing machine
logic of production logic
of collapse a plummet
into darkness
while in the courtyard
a plum tree grows

Technicolor puppets
Is that all
that heaven allows?
they know nothing
of gravity so says Kleist
they know nothing
but gravity:
take the stick out
puppet falls flat

Her experience of scale is always paradoxical





You talk in your sleep
arms raised high above
your breath
a dance of hands
in silent air

Voices of the psyche racing through the flesh


The museums there are empty
shells so said the scholar
from Syracuse lovely
outside ruins inside
Preserve and educate
is what we ask of you
engage and transform
Instead you lie quietly
out of date in
dejection unworthy
of thy name break
our hearts we
who believe
and remember
even the past
needs to breathe

Home is an intimate stranger


Words erect
a barrier
at the core of intimacy
a tremor breaks the surface
with a life of its own
Some mornings are hard
and these are healthy
horizontal yearnings
now standing to shower
heads not our own
feel the pull of
gravity within us
we want to live
like trees
It is snowing
inside your body
and tamaas in your tongue
has a secret meaning

Can we share solitude without loneliness


The cold
from the small of
your back
my hand
will blow

If we go to Texas we will come back naked