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I buy a bit of sea in a bottle
[nobody is anything without water].
I squirt it up my nose and think
of Viking shields and bloody axes,
pf lateen rigs, sewn hulls and Arab steel
that remind me of old drownings
and battle cries in foreign tongues.

I forget this tongue, this life
spent too far inland and aloof.
Tradecraft, wolf savvy and sorrow
shift this shape among shadows
emerging in the inopportune moment,
the inappropriate place, to do
a job I have never understood.


The word itself is so obscene
I hate to load it up with obloquy.
It should be an Arab consonant
carrying exhausted vowels
to be wrecked in Chittagong,
it should be broken like its promise
to rescue us from the palms of death
and everything called collectible
carried by helicopters to volcanos
to become lava blankets of civilizations.
Who would like not to collect anything
so to escape glossaries and cast
no shadow even when standing
before an inescapable light?



Djelloul Marbrook’s first poetry book, Far from Algiers (2008, Kent State University Press) won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry. His second book of poems is Brushstrokes and Glances (2010, Deerbrook Editions). Guest Boy, book one of the Light Piercing Water fiction trilogy (2012, Mira Publishing House CLC, Leeds, UK), debuted at the London Book Fair in April 2012 and is available on Amazon. “Artists’ Hill,” an excerpt from book two of the trilogy, won the 2008 Literal Latté first prize in fiction. His other novels are Saraceno (2012, Bliss Plot Press, Mt. Tremper, NY, available in paper, ebook, and audio); Artemisia’s Wolf (2011, Prakash Books, India), and Alice Miller’s Room (1999, OnlineOriginals.com, UK). His poems have been published by American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Orbis (UK), From the Fishouse, Oberon, Meadowland Review, Northport Journal, The Same, Reed, The Ledge, Poemeleon, Fledgling Rag, Daylight Burglary, Le Zaporogue (France), Atticus Review, Long Island Quarterly, Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review, and ReDactions, among others, His short fiction has been published by Orbis (UK), Potomac Review, and Prima Materia. A retired newspaper editor and Navy veteran, he lives in Germantown, NY, with his wife Marilyn.