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Andalusian Songs

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Andalusian

Songs

In this garden, I am an eye filled with delight

and the pupil of the eye is truly our lord

Muhammad

-Ibn Zamrak


© 2011 Oludamini

All Rights Reserved


Muhammad

You’re the secret spring

Inside of everything

Eloquent as a crescent moon’s light

Silently singing

I don’t know what to say to you

What do I have to bring?

When you, the love of Love itself

Peek out from every thing

1


Andalucia

Sky so wide that it swallows the earth

That’s swallowed the bones of the holy santos

Swallow-filled olive trees’ fruit and sung verse

Scatters their praise off the sunset-stained stones

2


Reflections of the Alhambra

Blessed be He who gave the Imam Muhammad

Qualities that decorate his mansions

Are there not in this garden wonders

Which God has refused to be rivaled in beauty?

Carved from a pearl of transparent light

Its basin is adorned with pearls on all sides.

In it silver melts and flows between jewels

Then departs equal to it in beauty, white and pure.

To the eye, the flowing and the solid are so alike,

We cannot know which of the two is really flowing

Do you not see how the water overflows its channels

But then the passages swallow it up?

Like a lover whose eyes brim with tears

Who then hides them from fear of slander

Is not the water but a cloud

Which the streams have carried to these lions

It resembles the hand of the Caliph when

He pours forth his generosity on the lions of war

-Ibn Zamrak (carved on the Fountain of Lions in

the Alhambra)

3


Qasr Al-hamra

Sand and light and stone and life in

Water flowing, water frozen

Green, starry stalactites dim

But time spares beauty’s reflections

Nature’s harmonies in stone

Jewels’ geometry in trees

Mirrors made from music’s bones

Poetry carved by the breeze

Red palace, heart of the mountains

Jewel of the forests of my soul

All that’s outside, I see within

Its streams that water the whole world

Alhambra

We’re just camping in the ruins

of our dark fathers, disavowed

like last night’s kiss on our cheek’s skin

their traces call, profound and proud

The architecture of our minds

Calligraphy, obscured by time

Gardens barren, fountains run dry

Dimly reflect the evening sky

Perhaps sun’s rain will wash away

The years of rust’s gaudy decay

And once more fill the morning halls

with the Music inscribed on the walls

4


Mosaics

All of us are hieroglyphs

The world is undeciphered ruins

Dirt over ancient mosaics

Traces out our names on tombs

Wipe it off them to know God’s

Hidden beneath the dust of ours

5


Cantaora

Eyes like olive oil

Two cups of green wine

Skin like golden foil

Has stolen my mind

Hair like the river

Reflecting the night

A face like the dawn

Soft but piercing bright

A voice like the mountains

A voice like the sea

A voice like dusk jasmine

And thunder’s envy

A voice like the birds

Like smoke in the trees

Your voice makes these words

Light fires in me

6


Duende

There’s more than one way

To coax flame from wood

Strings like yellow hay

Dry tears under hoods

Sparks cry, smoke and pray

Hands crack like dry wood

Songs rise in the blood

Obscure, understood

Ghosts rise from the ground

Angels leave the sky

To come hear the sound

Of fire when it cries

A star when it’s drowned

A cloud when it dies

It comes with the thunder

It comes with the rain

It leaves the world under

Its spell once again


7



The life in the table

The life in the moon

The horse in the stable

The gold in the spoon

The color of birds

An the taste of the trees

The song of the flowers

The touch of the breeze

The life in the wine

The death in the air

The rose on the vine

The pretty girl’s stare

The straight of her spine

The curl in her hair

All lean in towards him

Raptured unaware

And when he retreats

A fading stormcloud

The world is dew sweet

Our souls freshly plowed

8


Flamenco Dancers

Line and flower, beauty, power

Gold birds and steel geometry

Curling red vines ‘round black towers

Sweet rhythm and hard harmonies

9


Lips

Your lips are like the two split halves

of a pomegranate

They tried to hush my love’s hot flame

But they only fanned it

Your own breath’s pink marble doors

Were cut from my heart’s granite

If they could only hear my plea

I know you’d have to grant it

Clouds are in the skies

And tears are in my eyes

Fields of birds take flight

As we say goodbye

10


Sunset

Olive eyes in an orange sky

Of almond clouds that are pierced by

The pomegranate rays of

A sinking crimson sun

His light plucks the horizon

like guitarists’ fingers’ strum

Hills like beds where so it’s said

The moon descends to dance the dead

Streams flow so red around my head

you can’t tell the blood from roses

In this house, songs are shared like bread

they open as the day closes

The sky’s a pool with fires

Burning all around her sides

My heart’s a flame inspired

By the breaths of the wind’s cry

When it blows inside, I live

When it pours outside, I die

11


Clouds

Mountains melt and float away

Clouds cling to the earth’s valleys

Orange skies grow violets

Silver clifftops bloom with trees

Stars fall to the earth in flocks

Sky’s sheep fly off to black seas

My heart aflame, I sing in smoke

Telling you to come find me

My prayers leave footprints in the sky

The white whispers of my sighs

Breath goes to the stars to live

But clouds come to the earth to die

12


A man was hanging from a cloud

A girl was dancing in the grass

A bird was flying in the sky

A cypress sighed to see him pass

And then she let go of the ground

And the man, he lost his grasp

In the middle of the sky

They danced and kissed and laughed and spun

And when they heard the evening come

They fled into the setting sun

13


Yesterday I fell in love

With the dawn sun on a beach

So at sunset I went out

And skipped my heart across the sea

At sunset I went out

To skip my heart across the sea

And sink into the redding waves

Let the last rays carry me

Let the redding waves of dusk

Seize my soul and carry me

Through the night’s cold emptiness

And toss me back up on that beach

Let the sunset carry me

Back into dawn’s secrecy

14


My heart is a well

That holds your face in its depths

The smell of orange trees

Wraps around you like a dress

The cry of the guitars

Strings my heart around your neck

Birdsongs breaking the dawn

Blow ‘cross my face on your sweet breath

15


With hands such as yours

Were you meant to be blind?

Were you meant to be mute

That God gave you those eyes?

You broke into my sleep

And turned my dreams to sighs

You stepped out in the dark

And made midnight sunrise

My face became all eyes

And you turned my eyes to hands

So we’ll stay up all night

‘til you make me understand

16


You planted your love in my heart

Before the light split from the dark

Before you marked the flowers’ hearts

Before you sparked the sun’s bright arc

And even if my bones go rotten

This heart’s love can’t be forgotten

Your name will echo in my coffin

Until skies fold and mountains soften

17


Moonlight lies

like bright frost on the ground

Grass cries cold dew

when her face goes down

Sunlight rides

on the backs of the clouds

Like my lined face,

the green fields burn brown

Spring love still clings to winter’s chill

But summer’s green is deeper still

It’s autumn’s love that burns the brightest

In dying, love’s flames fly the highest

18


The moon cuts a path

Through the tall blessed wheat

Leading my heart back home

To where your two lips meet

Sun comes, birds fly north

It goes, they fly south

But I’ll follow the moon

Through the sky to your mouth

19


Last night I dreamed so sweet I woke

Into a dream so hard I died

Worn out, searching without hope

For the heaven of your eyes

This life’s an illusion

And so’s the next one

Death’s the black horse that

I’ll ride till you come

20


Your eyes peer out behind my own

The earth’s core is a spinning sun

There’s a heart within my heart

That holds the world beyond this one

My heart keeps secrets from my soul

And my soul keeps things from my mind

My body’s the blind curtain for

The window that God hides behind

21


You keep dancing on my lips

Long, long after we have kissed

Is what I learn so far from you

worth what I forget of us?

What could I know beside your truth?

What’s all I earn beside your trust?

Heaven is to sit beside your

bedside’s where love quickens dust

Where the lips of dawn and dusk

Catch the moon and make her blush

22


I dance to a music made

By things you cannot see

Like moths smitten by a flame

So close is too far for me

Saints’ bones in night earth like stars

Streak across the sky like scars

Where the heavens’ skin was pierced

By human souls breaking their bars

I’m dying for you

And living in wine

Stumbling through love’s streets

And ground down by time

My soul is a flock

Of crickets at night

Crying for sun

To kill us with light

23


Your eyes, golden as the sun

Golden like a lion’s eyes

Your eyes, golden as the sun

I would drown if they could cry

Light of my soul, hope of my heart

I bled for you and burned to ash

In waiting for your glance’s spark

My charred soul lined your eye in black

Your eyes, golden as the sun

Golden like a lion’s eyes

Like the barrels of a gun

To look’s to love them and to die

24


All the days’ work of my hands

Isn’t worth one night with you

I searched through books and distant lands

Finding nothing without you

I wore my soul out on the sands

Where I danced last night with you

Your kisses’ taste and eyes’ dark plans

Left me sick and blind without you

The world hangs from a single strand

Of your hair that binds me with you

My heart is yours, so as it stands

I can never be without you

At long last, I understand

Heaven is to be with you

25


Like a red thread on the west wind

Love blew in from sun’s rose gardens

Slipping round my throat at dawn

A ribbon floating on your yawn

A longing sweet and sad and strong

Deep whispered songs, eternal chords

Before time and before too long

Pulling my weak heart back to yours

26


From everything I’ve learned I know

What the bee sees in the window

Staring through glass at his home

Trying to melt the panes with moans

Uproot my soul from the dark earth

Of this cold and decaying world

Gently, so my life’s thin stem

Won’t snap in your strong finger’s hold

Plant me in your hair’s night sky

To flower there and never die

27


One moment

I make angels red with envy

The next, I make beasts blush in shame

Rabid with lusts and mad frenzies

Or heaping praises on your name

Poke a hole in my head’s pride

Tame my lust, and let it die

Separate my lips from lies

Busy them with prayers and sighs

Wipe the scales off of my eyes

And let me see you, day and night

Though I’m not worthy of your name

Make me holy by the same

28


I looked into the mirror

And disliked what I saw

I tried to fix the mirror

But all I did was draw

I looked down at myself

And hated what I saw

I tried to fix myself

But just made my flesh raw

I cried and wiped my eyes and then

I looked back at the mirror again

And then in shyness at my shoes

But all that I could see was You

29


First God made a flute of reed

And blew a soulful melody

Singing in ink of His need

Of one note to plant as a seed

That note’s the flute, the flute’s in you

The world’s life-line’s a heart that’s true

Through which all’s made and all’s made new

Your soul’s a hole God’s blowing through

The reed is weak and full of fear

It shudders when the wind appears

But when it’s plucked and hollowed out

It can sing a king to tears

30


Quatrains

Love breathed onto her mirror

That precious mist is us

And then she wiped it clear

That’s our life and sacred trust

You came to me last night

And left me with a glance

And everything’s been singing

About you ever since

I woke up and my heart was gone

It got lost in your tangled hair

And so I’ll search your face lips-first

In hopes that I can find it there

31


My heart’s held your face so long

That your hair became my veins

Your love built up in my blood

‘til my pulse became your name

So I’ll make your pulse my rhythm

And your breath my melody

In this silent, blinding desert

You’re all I hear or see

Your face fell like a sunset star

And lit my soul’s ocean on fire

Your eyes rose, two full moons unscarred

And stilled all of my heart’s desires

32


Melt the stars in your warm glow

And cover my scars with your snow

Bathe my heart in streams of hope

You’re all I love and all I know

Tear the veil of my soul

And in teary streams of longing

Let your spirit’s sweet sea

Mingle with my ocean’s body

33


Shades of Blue

She breathes out floods of mercy

And inhales the steaming light

The tides are the dark sighs

Of her sleeping chest at night

My ocean heart and her sky face

Meet in sweet, teary embrace

The world is just the rendezvous

Of these two deep shades of blue

And then I entered you

So you could enter me

Like cloth in a vat of dye

Or senses in beauty

Within the prison of the free

I sing the dance that makes me see

The vision of reality

Oceans shoreless, your lips on me

34


The best lines I write:

bites on your collarbone

Your lips see my soul

your eyes call me home

Your mouth has become

My philosopher’s stone

The gold in my blood’s

From the fire in your bones

Take my ribs for your comb

Make this ruined heart your throne

Let me drown in your breath

Because I’ve lost my own

I’ll gaze blind in your light

‘til your eyes are my sight

and I’ll burn in delight

‘til we’ve left wrong from right

35


Let not the lies of teeth and tongue

Or dancing lips distract you from

The union of all speech in breath

A music from behind our death

All that’s spoken or that’s heard

Is but that wind inside the words

That howling, longing sigh that stirs

Our soul’s flames to ascend like birds

So this is all we have to say:

A fiery sigh when we’re apart

A gasping cry when the bright ray

Of your dark eyes pierces my heart

36


Music melts words’ dusty bones

Into the foam of milk’s beauty

Poems beat from bones’ marrow

A rhythmic, timeless melody

My soul became like chocolate

Melting in between your lips

Born in your mind’s midnight inkwell

I’ll die inside your eyes’ pupils

37


Dip my head in night sky’s ink

And drag me cross the earth’s rough pages

Kiss me when you stop to think

Of how to write our Love’s lives ageless

The black on this page

Is not from ink’s journeys

It’s just the charred patterns

Of scars where she’s burned me

38


Signature

When my soul’s blank page

Draws near to your flame

black curls like your hair

burn to bright tongues of your name

“If not for you I would not know love

If not for love I would not know you”

but shhhh now, I’m busy falling in love with you

O Majestic, my Beautiful

39


Index of First Lines

A man was hanging from a cloud 13

All of us are hieroglyphs 5

All the days’ work of my hands 25

And then I entered you 34

Clouds are in the skies 9

Dip my head in night sky’s ink 38

Eyes like olive oil 6

First God made a flute of reed 30

From everything I’ve learned I know 27

I dance to a music made 22

I looked into the mirror 29

I make angels red with envy 28

I’m dying for you 22

I woke up and my heart was gone 31

Last night I dreamed so sweet I woke 20

Let not the lies of teeth and tongue 36

Like a red thread on the west wind 26

Line and flower, beauty, power 9


Love breathed onto her mirror 31

Melt the stars in your warm glow 33

Moonlight lies 18

Mountains melt and float away 12

Music melts words’ dusty bones 37

My heart is a well 15

My heart keeps secrets from my soul 21

My heart’s held your face so long 32

My soul became like chocolate 37

Olive eyes in orange sky 11

Poke a hole in my head’s pride 28

Saints’ bones in the night earth like stars 23

She breathes out floods of mercy 34

So I’ll make your pulse my rhythm 32

Sand and light and stone and life in 4

Sky so wide that it swallows the earth 2

Spring love still clings to winter’s chill 18

Tear the veil of my soul 33

The best lines I write 35


The moon cuts a path 19

The reed is weak and full of fear 31

There’s more than one way 7

Uproot my soul from the dark earth 27

We’re just camping in the ruins 4

When my soul’s blank page 39

With hands such as yours 15

Yesterday I fell in love 14

You came to me last night 32

You keep dancing on my lips 22

You planted your love in my heart 17

Your eyes peer out behind my own 21

Your eyes, golden as the sun 24

Your face fell like a sunset star 32

Your lips are like the two split halves 10

You’re the secret spring 1


Oludamini is a doctoral candidate in African

Studies and Religion at Harvard University

where he studies Islamic and traditional Yorùbá

mysticism and philosophy.

“All my thoughts always speak to me of Love”

-Dante La Vita Nuova

“God is Love”

1 John 4:8

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