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Sam Yaziji 

The Mute Earth Cast Out Her Dead

Damascus, 638


The cracked soil—its entrails lathered over

our cheeks and chins—blossoms beneath

the prism of anemic black and brackish green.

A forkèd tongue of chilly light splinters off

the waxy Seraph-wing dangling above,

and lodges in our threadbare temples’ loamy

flesh. Our throats scarf down the enemy’s stench

of starch and honey. We have melted our

temple-bells into arrowheads. Their swords

have carved our stylites’ hearts into mere

ventricles, tongue-tied and weeping a final

hymn, as charcoal-dust erupts the world

around. Creation’s ragged border has been

ignited—the Cherubim flee to pastures

more cornucopian than our Byzantine soil

of char and spent husk. The war-drums spark

the sky-lid, our black robed ones open their hands

and chant their Psalms to the Ancient of Days.

Your mother’s eyes are pomegranate-ringed.

She cups your face, her palms lather your cheeks.

Your father stares at a point just above your head,

a jasmine sprig in the dimpled stone.

His leather-clad foot fidgets with a fragment

of severed glass. The horn calls—

He takes his makeshift weapon and marches

into mute earth to meet them as they sleep

in the Damascus night’s dead arms.


- titled after a line in Georg Trakl’s Psalm II

  (trans. Will Stone)


Sam Yaziji is a poet from Miami, Florida. He is currently a first-year MFA student at San Diego State University. He is also a painter of Byzantine icons.

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