Hijacked Horizon

*** Briefly back in Albany after a few excellent days in Shippensburg including a visit with John Taggart — sitting on his porch in an early spring evening, talking jazz and poetry, watching an Amish horse buggy come through the county’s last covered bridge, young Amish a-courting on Friday night, rock blasting out of the carriage. On the 5-hour drive back listened straight through to the 4-cd Steve Lacy/Mal Waldron “Live at Dreher, Paris 1981” (hatOLOGY 4-59) — a must for any serious Lacy or Waldron fan. As Art Lange writes on the hathut site:

The equality, the almost perfect balance in complement and contrast, of the musical collaboration between Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron was palpable in both its internal and external workings … These four CDs, captured live in Paris in 1981, are notable as the first documentation of their performances as a duo, a particularly felicitous exploration of common interests and uncommon talents, initiating an intermittent series of duo recordings that would span thirteen years, varying repertoire, and several labels, but never venture far from the groundwork that was established here.


Today, after class on Maghrebian Poetry, off to Gloucester to visit with old friend Gerrit Lansing, then on tomorrow to Orono, ME for reading there on thursday (details in previous post). Not sure yet what I’ll listen to on the way, but Barrett Watten’s piece on Anthony Braxton has whetted my appetite, so maybe I’ll take some of AB’s works along — besides 2 Simon Shaheen cd’s: can’t live without an oud these days.


Meanwhile, here is the opening section of the poem HIJACKED HORIZON by Tuareg poet Hawad, in my translation. We’ll be reading the longer version in class today.


chaos & vertigo,
o bottomless well,
well of dreams we hollow out,
each night endlessly,
under the feet of all authority
that wants us to kneel
in history’s peat bogs.

Before turning the back on hope
and jumping into vertigo’s stirrups,
I heard talk of
fraternity and solidarity,
women and men
ready to offer their teeth
to bite the steam-roller
in Paris, London, Berlin.

But in the streets of those precipices
human deserts cities
sight-breaking abysses,
I have not met a single eye
on which to lean a gaze
tottering towards the chasm.

Ha! only curs’ droppings
circled by a posse
of green flies.

You, Gypsy cousin and you, Basque woman,
and you, the black-tresse’d Andalusian,
by the bitter and tough
spinal cord of our backbones,
by the gaping wounds of
our strut-covered backbones,
I swear to you, not one
companion remains,
gaze crazed by the conjunctivitis
of determination,
pumice stone, lynx eyes,
hope concentrated
in the fragile stem
of a listing ideal,
liana-shadow of pain
sailing against the tempest,
fire of its own illusions.

On the whole of this earth,
its back racked with cowardice,
no free and rebellious head
except for my camel’s,
its proud stride and gaze,
lordly and nostalgic,
pouring its incredulity
over the world at dusk.

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1 Response

  1. david raphael israel says:

    had no idea you’re versed in obscure Berber (evidently) studies. The poem is fairly unlike any other I’ve read. Look forward to more.

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