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Matthew Shenoda’s poems and writings have appeared in a variety of newspapers, journals, radio programs and anthologies. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his work has been supported by the California Arts Council and the Lannan Foundation.

Shenoda's debut collection of poems, Somewhere Else (Introduction by Sonia Sanchez) was named one of 2005's debut books of the year by Poets & Writers Magazine and is the winner of the inaugural Hala Maksoud Award for Emerging Voice, as well as a 2006 American Book Award. His latest collection, Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone, will be published in Fall 2009 from BOA Editions. He has taught extensively in the fields of Ethnic Studies and Creative Writing and is currently Assistant Provost for Equity & Diversity and on the faculty in the School of Critical Studies at California Institute of the Arts. He lives in Los Angeles. For more information visit: www.matthewshenoda.com.

Night Song
English version

Night Song

let it be night
that the arrows of day be shadowed
& the almond candle of your eyes

shine night
read every word / honey on the wound
let it be day

in the open river
that mountain goat may step to rock
like I step to you

rock of ages
psalm song / palm line
water curl

I give myself to this word
commit to eternity
traced by slender shadows / ask for nothing

still riddled by the bullets
of Mogadishu/ Darfur / distance
political bombast

the son of diaspora
learns to live in shade
without the battle of journey / graze slender

we make ourselves heart-travelers
live near water
& find the longest star

if there is beauty here
we drink it / mouth full of sand
& on the silt of our tongues

comes the tree of words
blossoming into breath

Night Song by Matthew Shenoda. Reprinted from Seasons of Lotus,
Seasons of Bone
(2009) by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.
English version


tightly woven in the curls of her hair
the rosetta stone of tomorrow

in every sandstorm, a beginning
muscled in the tension of tides

the whirling of date palms
the journey of exchange

floating on the placid ambit of affection
each strand a key to uncover the temple of understanding

mired by the elastic expansion of dread
trembling before the altars of fear

unearthing a body from the wreck of invasion
the woman frozen, her hands, aged, reminiscent of love

learn to touch the sky like salient arrows
fierce the aftermath of desperation

she unravels her hair from beyond her
drops her curls into sunrise
levies her body towards home

crowded by the darkness of suspect
she brushes her hands to the floor
raises the grain of her wakefulness

watches the river rise green
with a smile across her brow
her eyes made of cowry and gold

she begins in the order of sunset
preparing fish for the fire
she kneads the dough of celebration

gathering kin
in the shade of acacia
she thrusts to the knee

cracks the cane
disseminates sweetness
fibrous light in their mouths

Continuance by Matthew Shenoda. Reprinted from Seasons of Lotus,
Seasons of Bone
(2009) by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.
A Note Found in the Tomb of Tutankhamen
English version

A Note Found in the Tomb of Tutankhamen

For the British Museum

Possessor / ignorant of the converse

One geology / cancel another
One past / haunt another

You who does not understand that our speech is prayer

When every arrow of my body
Shoots towards heaven
The hieroglyph of my spine
Made run through my front

Shattered in the folds of my hand
A young boy I was
Rested to this place to be one with Ra

They took me to the valley at Thebes
peace my soul from tomb robbers

Hidden / eternity
Sealed with the doctrine of eternal existence

Now you have unsettled the cataract of the Nile
and disturbed the very sun that shields you

Hard-headed Brit
Did five attempts to steal me not warn you
White man / always to himself a hero
Howard Carter / tomb robber
Take the sterling from your Lord Carnarvon
You cannot buy yourself eternity
This life was never material

Who believes / believes
Impotent in your knowledge       beast
Grave robber / blinded by primitive massacre
Unable to not know how

Why was never enough.


Alive in my death mask
Eternally a cobra
I am become my own protector
What am I to do in these strange times
3000 years I lay whole
shrouded in my new name
lay distant from the heresy
and you who unwrap me
make my bones degenerate
for a glimpse / think yourself worthy of my touch

unable to embrace mystery.

I sing the song chorused by palm fronds in wind
You have missed the message

You have not seen everlasting.

A Note Found in the Tomb of Tutankhamen by Matthew Shenoda.
Reprinted from Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone (2009) by
permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.