Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine

translated from the French by Jake Syersak

from Proximal Morocco

Mixed-up Times
To Samuel Beckett
The Forger


Mixed-up Times

obliviousness and roses are intoning the song of the mixed-up times’


I raise a glass once more to death’s health

an icy wine

and constrict my throat into one sore and joyful bouquet

braying with guilt and tautly

drawing unlike any horse could

your tranquil grin from tree to tree


and this is how every love ends and every enormous sky gives way

and this is how I find my footing through the dismasted poem

traversing an embittered reef

the color of your pupils and of marble


evacuate my heart already

cancerous land

steer yourself toward the wrinkles of my brow

and let your eyes wander the sutures

of another who’s torn to shreds and says no more.



quagmire glowing rosier at the very tip of syringes

where I ferry back and forth through the silicosis-laden evening ceding

its best shot to every last transient miscreant straying The quagmire’s

phlegm spat from the sky and ghastly suicidal

dead land—

Wherein the lily weaves the poisons of the factories together into its music

the twisted crime of scoria wound up and around its abscesses

unfurls a bloody red city over the entirety of man

and disperses it across the face of the stars pock-marked by purpura.

The only life spouted from my memory

spurns the early morning hours as the river expels

the iguana with the fluted sound the sands are doing away with.

But there it is, that golden eroder of eyes,

there it is,

that furious colossus which is adjoining itself to God.


To Samuel Beckett

There’s nothing quite so clear as night colluding with

lightning from here on out the sand I gnaw away at and find feminine

through these eyelids of mine weaponized by protons. There’s nothing quite so clear

as a night rife with fire ants and its flea-ridden traffic.


Its obliterated eyes calmly coo and suck my blood out like a leech

Its head dangling from my liver decrepit javelin

Slender filthy rank and increasingly true though increasingly unlikely

To curdle a gull’s course of flight unsuccessfully posing as an eel

Pure alone pierced-through with needles dense yet force-fed

Hauling a sack of lovely terrors Casting out

everything that’s soul weeping infancy worldliness everything Mankind

Yet voluminously reproductive voluminously quagmire

Insomuch as it’s been swindled by my know-how it’s unfolding

over dawn’s eye smoldered and then moored

Insomuch as there’s nothing quite so clear as the suicidal night

and the cerebral black of glass born from my own looking out

Its obliterated eyes calmly coo and suck my blood out like a leech


Inveigh cry out dance around decry kill nothing but what’s clearest

On the inside of a newspaper spread out across my fealty

Lamellae striated with lives stirred about from inside the retina

Of trees mutilated by the greasiness of the countless figures

Through every last mirror belonging to shadowy shadowy memory

Looming over the forgetful pebble and the sea which heaves it upward

To the obliterated eyes which calmly coo and suck blood out like a leech

Kill cry out dance around decry strike through what’s not so clear


And I crawl throughout the foliage and I transmute it and I dispute it

And like the many-legged lithobiidae I consume the sawed-out images of sound

I myself feeling as though I’m flourishing inside the clammiest of wrinkles

And I leave with a laugh salvo of shadows and swift habituations

To disintegrate if not in mourning then at least with some vitriol

The machine gun situated between my eye and my exile

And I crawl throughout the foliage over your body of urgent water

So that the great book opens up and begins erasing the Earth

So that the Terror Spikes of Thought which stand up against and invert

The verses of your History cloistered in the white space assassinating me

Scrawl your signature over the book opened to the greyest and blackest of stars

There’s nothing quite so incredibly clear as the sky at a loss for breath

Over your hair and the tapestries of kohl encircling your eyes

And I crawl throughout the foliage and I transmute it and I dispute it

Launched by the gluttonous lightning and the force-feedings of silence

Assembled by the asteroid-thistles and the Pure

Ink that manifested my night from its ossuaries

The Lachaises the Baudelaires and the storms of the sky

With a Commune that laps the shore crawls throughout it and disputes it


World Is This what the World amounts to the pesticidal norm The War

without any guitar without any genuine vitriol save the silence

Like a ladder moulded from the green teeth of Ramses

whose sob-sands embalm the black-ochre-gold-blue-on-white

of mummy-wrapped-talismans which desecrate The Tribe

Your portrait slung over the backsides crooked with opprobrium

Reaper Submerger drooling over the wounds

Of the world wherefrom I draw my Négritudal acidity

into my lungs until they burst with what the eye of God breathes deeply inward

Swimming through the pus of the people and petrifying

the legibility of their eyes which engross this eye of mine with a red opacity

World Is This what the World amounts to the opera which slay-operates

With its words and with its long-bladed koummya daggers and with

Its little statistics and with its traffics through the heart

And the Corpse sold and sold away again and again by the clergymen

World Is This what the World amounts to the pesticidal norm The War


There’s nothing quite so clear as night colluding with

lightning from here on out the sand I gnaw away at and find feminine

through these eyelids of mine weaponized by protons. There’s nothing quite so clear

as a night rife with fire ants and its flea-ridden traffic.


The Forger

I yearn for some other lump of molding clay a whereabouts to sprout man from

man’s decency

to round up as flowers some unpolluted souls through the yellowing

no more of this windowsill pressed up against a city

I circumcised stretching out the remains of

a living tableau for the rest of all you shooting stars

I yearn for a land I could potentially conflate

with my blood my blood some turbulent sort of thing

                                                                                        a land

I could love

with a caustic love

I yearn for your laughter to atrophy the expansive space

so riveted to molecules

if only I wasn’t straying so

if only my flesh

weren’t this landscape so loaded down with misery and quarrels

a fly-trap

this odor which closes me up

perhaps some sunlight would come up over my shoulders

perhaps I would reopen myself up to the hazards of this world

perhaps you would even say

                                                 this man

we stomped him into

                                     this land

while at the quiescently pale crossroads

an old forger

impales you in the forehead.



Our ancestors were those who possessed storehouses full of wheat

they watched the sun from the time it rose to the time it set

and they never once wondered why. Never once

did our ancestors offer asylum to any king. Their land

blistered the king’s bare feet, far too delicate

to walk a land of unexplodable shadow and sun exposure

whose kettledrums and iron my ancestors pounded

while scything wheat on a summer’s day, overflowing with cicadas,

with the length of a yet un-kneaded shroud which called itself land,

the womb of the world circumscribed by a handful of fortified isles—


            Never once did our ancestors


            to stringing together a crown of thorns—

            The argan tree and the cactus

            served perfectly well the function of palace and crown—

            And our ancestors read

            good fortune

            in the midnight stars shining golden as the barley

            that the infestation of kings were growing envious of.


And then throughout the land swept a Blackness with its Krupp cannon

and divided the sunny obscurity from our ancestors—

Every woman with child immediately miscarried—

A tempestuous sky plummeted onto the craniums of the deceased

in flakes made of snakes and disgrace—

But never would our ancestors have given up their way of life

were it not for this Krupp cannon and the king’s jaws,

the bearer of long rifles and flasks full of gunpowder—

For the king cowered in his harem while twenty thousand

Imazighen encircled him, their bodies tightening

like ten million strands of high-tensile-strength barbed wire—




For too long now I’ve lived inside this shitstorm where the day

falls from grace with a sneer more strident than the galloping

of a thousand riled-up stallions. For too long now I’ve

suffered through the roseate hatred gushing out like a knife

in the words of a king who camouflages himself in a urinal—

Get this, in exchange for freeing the lives of our lands his father

demanded I sacrifice my own and he said it with such derision

that I jumped the metro going from Spain to Tangiers Shadowy City

where you could count the dead by the hundreds.

I traded in my life without a second thought, that goes without saying,

and I said to myself: If kings insist on living, as for me, I’ll stick with death.

That’s what things have come to in this shriveled gutter

I, from this day forward, dare not call Morocco—

Rock resonated from the miscarriages owing to a revolt of stars—

It’s we who are the people who’ve grown sterile, whose breast

expels the cankers of a thousand assassinated lives—

The uneasy slate neither grey nor black over which the king

wobbles out onto and pisses out his bilious liquors while a caustic

people spit vitriol without aversion in his direction although restrained

by the police squads and scorpions which comb through his restless

nights under the termite-eaten roof joists and the stars bursting

with laughter at the snot-nosed misery of disemboweled mothers.



                                                                        (On the Tomb of Che Guevara)


Liberty is what’s to be found at the end of a sheet of paper,

at the end of a fire-arm without sights, at the end

of a loaded cartridge, completely emptied out. Liberty is a constraining tether

that possesses you like a poet or a wild hare dwelling under the moon’s

golden inefficacy, where two lonely men are taking a walk

into this hour of uneasy noises and the convictions rounding them off.


Into this hour of thrones and the rolling swells of waves, love

casts its objection, with an arm more coercively contrary

than any stray bullet in Africa, that which screams its lungs

out so as to ensure the clouds will laugh, and thereby raise

the subsoil of men to be rediscovered in this magma-laden

park of precarious insults and aborted orgasmic sensations.


Into this hour where Asia, macerated, soiled, but not yet closed-

in-upon by the enclosures of iron constraints and morose fangs,

into the hour in which the void envelops the Earth’s span

disheveled the magnitude whereby God measures out his death

into this hour of interstellar cyclings and the faunae

of malodorous kif, putridly-scented cash, and halo-coiffed napalm,


Che Guevara reloads the leopard’s essence into the proletarian blood

which the Yankee tracks into city streets and pulverizes

with its own dreams and berets fully cognizant

of the militant poverty of the Americas

whose fight resides in every essence of blood like a leopard’s

like a warhead easing its way into the underworld of the passer-by—


Into this hour in which everyone is summoned to obliterate

this prison imparting the screams of those left stranded:

masques lashed to the length of the javelin and the rifle

sloughing off the poorly reared-up life of mucousy suns

inside African concentration camps,

liberty is what’s to be found at the end of a sheet of paper,

the end of a fire-arm where both black and white

yellow into a holy book forged in cobalt

and strike the enemy in his strong-boxes, gathering

up the cancerous debris of liberties, denied,

tarnished, bruised, yet laughing all the while at the engineers

of tranquil death inside every last bit of death’s hallucinatory laughter.


Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine (1941-1995) is considered one of the most
influential avant-garde writers of Moroccan and Amazigh (Arab-Berber)
heritage. With Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri, he helped
found the avant-garde journal of Francophone/Arab art and culture
Souffles in 1966. Proximal Morocco [Ce Maroc!] was written between
the years of 1964 and 1974, in the midst of Khaïr-Eddine’s exile from
Morocco to avoid persecution for his radical political stances.

Jake Syersak is the author of the full-length Yield Architecture
(Burnside Review Books, 2018) and several chapbooks, including
the recent First Breaths (OOMPH! Press, 2019), a collection of
Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine’s early work originally published in
Souffles-Anfas. He edits Cloud Rodeo, co-edits Radioactive Cloud,
and serves as a contributing editor for Letter Machine Editions.