Selected poems from 'Tabular Rasa' by Jeff Raheb

  • Havana      
  • Paro Dzhong - Bhutan      
  • Dal Lake - Kashmir      
  • Bamboo      
  • The Center      
  • I Pour You A Cup Of Tea      
  • For The Women Of Bosnia      
  • You Say It Is Raining      
  • Zimbabwe      
  • The Comet      
  • Pygmalion      
  • Ganges      
  • Nasca - Peru      
  • Zu Twa Szi      
  • Body Rain      
  • The Shadow Puppet (Jogjakarta )                      
  • Songkla - Thailand      
  • 5 Haikus
  • Zimbabwe

    We dip our paddles into the wet lips of the Zambezi
    It, mouthing our bodies between the brown-dry
    animal-rich shores of Zimbabwe
    and the starved shores of Zambia
    Here in Kariba, water pours deeply
    through the scar in the African earth
    floating our passion and fear on its' silent belly
    It broods
    moves sleepily after the thundering battle
    at Victoria falls
    It moves reluctantly
    carrying the blood of elephants and villages
    from under Lake Kariba
    Our paddles dip into the clearer afterthought of history
    The gorge cradling our canoe like the thighs of a woman
    We are born from the pounding of water in stone
    Creation from destruction
    The river, like the afterbirth
    gushing out under our form
    You came with me
    silent, brooding like the river
    Out of Africa, into Africa
    I threw fresh water on your face
    in order to see where the tearstains of your eyes stopped
    and the dried saliva of your hunger began
    I am alone
    Here on the Zambezi amidst the Hippos and the crocodiles
    Between the lions and the kudos
    I am alone, in ecstasy
    The river moves us
    Paddles dip in
    Sensual, caressing your body
    like water, rain pouring down on us
    dipping into our sleepless passion
    Rain river besides us, in us, on us
    paddle dips into your hesitation
    elephants trumpet outside
    ivory white against the blackness of fear
    shadows moving dream-like through night
    trunk in trunk across the river
    silent, colossal
    magnificent, imposing

    We move closer, watching, waiting, listening
    lions roar, distant
    water trembles down our face
    the river moves us, closer
    under storm, cool night
    baboons bark, babble
    Hippos laugh at our mortality
    snort at our impotence
    We reveal ourselves under the pounding of rain
    Rain masks our words
    masks our faces
    each word, a drop of secrecy
    You recoil from the nakedness of the African night
    hide from the glare of Sobek
    African night reflecting in the paleness of your mouth
    Paddles dip into blackness
    Crocodile teeth marks on our skin
    piercing our coolness
    our shallow invulnerability
    You were alone
    leopards leaped over your silence
    clawed you through to the red marrow
    beneath your indifference
    The river moves us, further east
    toward Mozambique
    toward infinity
    I drew you to me
    drew pictures on the ceiling of the African night
    constellations to view our ever changing dreams
    In the moment before the pounding of passion
    rain, thunder
    I looked up
    saw the 2-ton silhouette of a hippopotamus
    staring at me
    black against gray night
    Curious, wondering as I wondered at you
    Different life forms
    The river joins us
    Paddles dip in gray
    Your gray, my gray
    they join
    our forms becoming a part of the earth-brown
    breath of Zimbabwe

    Copyright 2004 Jeff Raheb