Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Poplar Tree

"Poplar tree leaves,
 In the wind:
A clapping audience !''

Laqlouq 26/07/09

[On a summer day, we were invited at Laqlouq for an outdoor lunch,150 people chatting, when suddenly, not a word, the loud music stops,and out of nowhere, a fresh wind shakes the countless rounded Poplar leaves,making them sound like a soft clapping of hands.]

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Diamond Drop

"The drop,
An instant before leaving the faucet,
Becomes a diamond"

March 23, 1993

[Cool, early morning; same kitchen, same stillness. Something catches the corner of my eye: the sink's faucet, just below the window, is slowly dripping and, as the drop takes shape before falling, at that very split-second moment, a ray of sunshine strikes through it and wondrously transforms it into a shining, multi-coloured diamond!]

Friday, 17 July 2009


"A cool December morning;
In the courtyard the lizard and I:
Both in the sun!"

December 7, 1992

[A friend of mine, interested in antiques, had passed by me early in the morning to go to Tripoli where a traditional glassblower was making Phoenician-style glassware. When we arrived to the artisan's shop, we had to wait a few minutes in the courtyard. It was a cold day and I instinctively walked to a place where the still feeble sun was shining. It was then that I saw the lizard; it, too, was in search of a sunny spot and we both stood there, both of us animals driven by our primeval need for warmth.]

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Beats Haiku

In Jack Kerouac's famous novel, The Dharma Bums (1959), the Beat-generation writer tells about his climbing Matterhorn Peak in California with his friends, among them "Japhy Ryder" (in real life the poet Gary Snyder) an expert in Far-Eastern cultures and languages and Kerouac's Buddhist inspiration. Below is a passage where the climbers are throwing haiku left and right:

'Look over there,' sang Japhy, 'yellow aspens. Just put me in the mind of a haiku . . . "Talking about the literary life--the yellow aspens."' Walking in this country you could understand the perfect gems of haikus the Oriental poets had written, never getting drunk in the mountains or anything but just going along as fresh as children writing down what they saw without literary devices or fanciness of expression. We made up haikus as we climbed, winding up and up now on the slopes of brush.

'Rocks on the side of the cliff,' I said, 'why don't they tumble down?'

'Maybe that's a haiku, maybe not, it might be a little too complicated,' said Japhy. 'A real haiku's gotta be as simple as porridge and yet make you see the real thing, like the greatest haiku of them all probably is the one that goes 'The Sparrow hops along the veranda, with wet feet." By Shiki. You see the wet footprints like a vision in your mind and yet in those few words you also see all the rain that's been falling that day and almost smell the wet pine needles.'

'Let's have another.'

'I'll make up one of my own this time, let's see, "Lake below . . . the black holes the wells make," no, that's not a haiku goddammit, you never can be too careful about haiku.'

'How about making them up real fast as you go along, spontaneously?'

(Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, London: Penguin, 2000, 52)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The setting sun at the horizon,

Shimmering lights of boats,

The economy of sound

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Orange Juice

"A cool sunny morning;
Pouring orange juice,
The sound of the foam"

November 11, 1992

[A cold but sunny morning; very early morning, in fact, like maybe 06:00. The house is quiet as everybody is still asleep. I go to the kitchen and again all is "clear" and still. I get the bottle of orange juice from the fridge, stand in front of the kitchen window, open the bottle, and pour the juice into a tall glass. After that, in the still, sunny morning, there is only the crystal-clear, almost-too-loud sound of the orange juice foam in the glass.]