Five Poems - Josh Lipson

Josh Lipson

(Editor's note: for the best reading experience on mobile, hold phone horizontally


Perfect innocence is not my game
Through smoke rings on the
desert broadcast street.
I have a list of names—

I’ll continue to get involved
in Arabic in English in
carcinogenic provinces of mind
and flourishes of bow
condemned by Ravi Shankar as
satanic. Moth crowding my
eyebrow. Torch itching my scalp.
Shaking the branch for tomatoes
on volcanic islands at the rim
of computation.

Jauntily over the edge,
cigar in my mouth.


I’m With You in Damascus

lively and enlivening Levantine entrepôt. Volumes of Libyans,
Israelis, Germans, Annamese. (And the conquest of Granada!) 

Pioneers of the Great White Northern Desert:

I belong in this world
Afroasiatic snaking
and the shaking breasts
in the terebinth grove 

three steps forward, three back —

 I have found one
to be pulled into the
flower-water with me,

singing impossibly

Any word. To say nothing
of volumes —

The karkadé
at the bottom of the pot
is sour with the plums
of your untested love.

ash-shay ja:y
Is the tea me?

I listen to song-of-her-

If the egg is warmer than the water

How wonderful the leaves
at the bottom of the pot.
Rather everything with which it rings


Trumpet of the atavistic age of swing
Slake me, Fairouz, from the goatskin sack

David                Whitman                               Ginsberg                                 Carlebach
Jazz                                           Fairouz                                                             ******

and in Malay: ini            Unseen infinities are buzzing inaccessibly.                        
                     khidmat                                                        Tune in.      
                     Hydrant Flow Gauge

I bound out under supernovae
I am a harlot
I have many kisses

                                            O my ruffled diaphanous feathers



Second sleepless morning mid-October
Istanbul: the shock doctrine.

I habit my eyes to the dazzle of the light
and simmer pulses. Last snacks fell at midnight

down my stomach through a shaft
between apartments: screeching Sorani children

sell me weed. Down Tarlabasi drainway,
a street played host to Polish Catholic poet,

and Old Damascus cafeteria: smugglers,
legwork, hot legumes. I greet my cousins

with the stilted terse ammiyeh of a newscaster:
godly synaptics order my beans broad. A bevy

of broken sesame, Palestine olives pressed into
corvee, lemons disappeared in death flights

over Rio de la Plata. I told them I was Lebanese:
Stockholm syndrome of our lowland Neolithic

rivalry, raw onions; I compensate
as for my stature with tomatoes. Heart-attack

stockbroker, mad with blue-light instruments,
I crack an egg. Crimean Turk,

musty master of the house stirs hopeless
in the early light. I raise the cover from the boil

and check my pulses.


Diyarbakir Black

Light cut in basalt
I would die of your dome
for vegetables at breakfast —
smartest caravanserai
this side of the conflict zone.

Zebra arches bound into a colonnade —
Kurmanji eyes at nine o’clock,
entoptic kilim splayed.

Where the flinty steppe geometry
runs dry, but unicorn and ayran
stanch the urge of lines
to bloom to boteh:

The lamp hangs determined
and stark above my smugglers’ tea.

Heart too ready to be drowned
in volcanic rock
and Aryan eyes.

Withering minarets
and midnight Armenian steeples
are your neck
in Song of Songs.

Martyrs glint out from
moustache on the gallery.
For coffee and a thousand suns,

Street alive with sumac and the veneration of
a little dark girl,
millions gone missing in the Syrian register,
blood runs warm to me in the mountains.



Minor idols
broke my devotion
spoke too soon

Jealous guys
inherit the skies
acquire the moon

This is an idle
only mythology


Josh Lipson

Josh Lipson is a student of history, language, and the mind based in Virginia by way of New Jersey, Cambridge, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and San Francisco. His work has been featured in Revue Post, Burning House Press, and Petrichor, and is forthcoming in The SHARKPACK Annual. His poem "Habana-Om" was nominated in 2019 for Sundress Publications' Best of the Net Anthology.

Josh's Articles on KGB LitMAg