YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

October 1999

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken
Production Editor: Pedro Sena
European Editor: Moshe Benarroch
Contributing Editors: Martin Zurla; Rita Stilli; Milan Georges Djordjevitch; Michael Collings

ISSN 1480-6401



      Klaus J. Gerken


      Brad Evans
         the committee poets
         a good poem is like great sex but without the dolmio grin
         the first, full green bottle of beer
         crazy wanker in a 28-bunk dormitory
      Ken McManus                                                                                                                                               
         Comes Love
      Farzana Moon
         A Glorious Feast
         SÓLO UNA IDEA...
         AN IDEA ONLY...
      S K Iyer
         In The Desert


      Danielle Wolferd
         The Morning Routine


      A few weeks ago I finally received my long awaited copy of the
   1704 edition of Samuel Butler's Hudibras.  It has long been a
   dream of mine to own such a copy.  I found this copy through the
   Internet at:

            Ron and Isabel Lieberman
            The Family Album
            At the Old Mill
            4887 Newport Road
            PA 17535
            Phone: 717 442 0220
            Internet: RonBiblio@Delphi.com or RareBooks@POBox.com
            RAD Web Page: http://WWW.netrax.net/~rarebook/

      This is one of the finest rare book dealers in North America.
   And if one is looking for rare books, this is the place to visit.

      At having received this exquisite volume of one of the greatest
   poems of the 17th century, I would like to share a bit of the
   introduction to the poem:


                          The Firft PART.


                         In the Time of the

                             LATE WARS.

                       Corrected and Ameded,

                            With Several

                     Additions and Annotations.


              Printed by E. P. for Geo. Sawbridge, in
                       Little-Britain, 1704.

                               TO THE


   Poeta nufcitur non fit, is a Sentance of as great Truth as
   Antiquity; it being moft certain, that all the acquir'd
   Learning imaginable is infufficient to compleat a Poet, without
   a Natural Genius, and Propenfisty to fo a Noble and Sublime
   an Art.  And we may without Offence obferve that many very
   Learned Men, who have been ambitious to be thought Poets, have
   only render'd themfelves Obnoxious to that Satyrical Infpiration,
   our Author wittily invokes;

             Which made them, though it were in fpight
                Of Nature, and their Stars to write.

      On the other fide, fome who have had very little Human Learning,
   but were endued with a large fhare of Natural Wit and Parts,
   have become the moft Celebrated Poets of the Age they live in.
   Butnas thefe laft are Rarae Aves in Terris, fo when the Mufe
   have not difdained the Affiftances of other Arts and Sciences, we are 
   then blefs'd with thofe lafting Monuments of Wit and Learning, which 
   may juftly claim a kind of Eternity upon Earth.  And our Author, had
   his Modefty permitted him, might with Horace, have faid,

                  Exigi Monumentum Aere perennius;

   Or with Ovid,

         Jamque opus Exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignis,
           Nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere Vetufta.

      The Author of this Celebrated Poem, was of this Compofition; for
   altho he had not the Happinefs of an Academical Education, as
   fome affirm, it may be perceiv'd, throughout his whole Poem,
   that he had read much, and was very well accomplifhed in the
   moft ufeful Parts of Human Learning.

      Rapin (in his Reflections) fpeaking of the neceffary belonging
   to a Poet; tells us, he muft have a Genius extraordinary, great
   Natural Gifts, a Wit Juft, Fruitful, Piercing, Solid, and Univerfal;
   an Underftanding, clean and pleafant; an Elevation of Soul,
   that depends not only on Art or Study, but is purely a Gift of
   Heaven, which muft be fuftain'd by a lively Senfe and Viracity;
   Judgement to confider wifely of Things, and Viracity for the
   Beautiful Expreffion of them, &cc.

      Now, how juftly this Character is due to our Author, I leave to
   the Impartial Reader, and thofe of nicer Judgements, who had the
   Happineff to be more intimately aquainted with him.

      The Reputation of this Incomparable Poem, is fo throughly
   eftablifh'ed in the World, thatit would be fuperfluous, if
   not impertinent, to endeavour any Panegyrick upon it.  King
   Charles II. whom the judicious Part of Mankind will readily
   acknowledge to be a Sovereign Judge of Wit, was fo great an
   Admirer of it, that he would often pleafantly quote it in his
   Conversation: However, fince,moft Men have a Curiofity to have
   fome Account of fuch Anonymous Authors, whofe Compofitions
   have been Eminent for Wit of Learning; I have been defir'd
   to oblidge them with fuch Informations, as I could receive
   from thofe who had the Happinefs to be acquainted with him,
   and alfo to rectifie the Miftakes of the Oxford Antiquary,
   in his Athenae Oxonienfes, concerning him.
   Klaus J. Gerken	 

   Brad Evans
   there will be the subtle tactics:
   the cold shoulder,
   an opportunity for mild annoyance,
   and then
   the clash will come,
   with perhaps
   some tears, some screams,
   a wall or somebody
   will be thumped
   and then there'll
   be that precious
   quiet moment
   I'll retire to a small room
   navigating past
   rubbish and papers and unanswered letters.
   she will
   inhabit the kitchen, close the door,
   light a cigarette and draw pictures.
   it may take
   a sharp movement from the clock,
   (give it 20 mins on a
   blue-sky Saturday)
   I may give her a peck
   on the cheek
   a little

Brad Evans the committee poets ~~~~~~~~~ either the hard road becomes too much or it's the rejection slip they fear but you will see them in cafes talking about other writers and what they are writing and they will bitch and whinge when the others get published. in a frenzy they form groups and committees and they seek positions in government- funded publishing houses, all this to defend themselves from their imagined literary attackers, if they simply sat themselves down in a room somewhere to do THE THING they may find themselves in books and magazines like the rest
Brad Evans grinding ~~~~~~~~ I've learned to grind my teeth... I don't know, perhaps it was that last truck that swayed past while I was pedalling down Long Road, perhaps it's too many days of thinking rather than doing I thought poetry was meant to solve some of these problems I'm still grinding...
Brad Evans a good poem is like great sex but without the dolmio grin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ you finished the last line and you re-read with vigour the whole piece. 'yes' you shiver as its tail zips through your spine (you can tell it's a good one) and you wonder whether you should wake your partner, you approach the bedroom door and then the beastly noise jumps you... no, it cannot be human perhaps a rhino made its way in 5 mins previous you open the door and there you find a grisly scene: your partner lying there with mouth agape, your eyes are drawn to the tongue flap- ping amidst slop in the breeze, you close the bedroom door gently so so gently... motivation puts a gun to your head as you return to the task
Brad Evans the first, full green bottle of beer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ faces me from where I sit and there's a radio in the corner of the room where each of the young, female singers take their turn to chirp messages of loss, of jealousy and of continual demands for a faith long-failed from partners who have long forgotten them, partners whom they have mistaken for gods. and I smile as I lift this first full green bottle of beer knowing that the gods had been pushed onwards a long time before... humanity must have bored the shit out of them.
Brad Evans crazy wanker in a 28-bunk dormitory. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ christ, he would've been at least 24 and he arrived at about 1am dropped his luggage near my bunk and began to sort out the folded sheets on a bunk above me. he worked his way around, tucked all of the sheets neatly beneath the mattress, fluffed up his pillow and he hadn't even settled in before he began to work himself up by the length of his strokes that guy must have been packing a savaloy and I held on to the sides of my mattress as the bunk began to shake and rattle and then I began to fight down a laugh, but my guts kept convulsing, the wanker stopped wanking as he sensed the new disturbance and while I struggled for some control he started again with the bunk shaking and rattling I lost control, my guts convulsing again, and I thought of his stupidity and my shitty odds, stuck here with a crazy wanker in a 28-bunk dormitory.
Ken McManus Comes Love ~~~~~~~~~~ Before that last dream wedged its way into my memory, Cobwebbed hobgoblin that it was, I saw the clearest of skies, felt a lightening in my form Only juxtaposed against the grayness of then Could I see the contrast glow of now This woman stepped fully between me and gloom Rid me of some injurious spirits looming in an aura around me It was only after 1000 years of her intervening joy That I saw what I saw and read what I read... How does one make peace with the peacemaker? The horizon shifted to a more reasonable level, Not the chronic ebb and flow of high and low But the ease of naturalness and sympathy Air pulled into the lungs more gracefully Shackles of hesitancy shook, broken, to the floor The hard-eyed reflection of self jutted out at me from mirrors The work of mining deeply within, beyond the sheen, stunned me Emotions sifted down into deeper tissue, like muscles recoiling and relaxing after their work The head cleared and continents pulled in close to embrace All reason took its place, beside chance and joy Uneven gasps from the cloud of sleep Calm relief in the sun's greeting The latitude of promise running from me to her Her to me, her the anchor Wonder, for a moment's notice, pausing to look at me through the window.
Farzana Moon A Glorious Feast ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cast of Characters: Pharaoh: The sovereign of Egypt Yusuf: The Hebrew patriarch--the son of Jacob Aziz: The governor of Egypt Zulaikha: The wife of Aziz Two prisoners: Pharaoh's former baker and butler Two ladies: Friends of Zulaikha Scene: A royal parlor in the home of the Pharaoh. One Egyptian screen divides the stage into two portions. One portion is a prison cell, its contents visible through the steel bars. Two beds of straw with rough blankets are pushed close to the walls on each side, with ample room in the middle for walking. The other portion is revealing a large parlor. One square table in the middle is covered with a gold cloth, holding a fruit arrangement as a centerpiece. A gilded davenport to the right is smothered with satiny pillows. A velvet couch in shade of scarlet faces the square table, and two matching chairs scattered on each side. One imposing mantelpiece in the background is cluttered with Egyptian censers and pottery. When the curtain opens, Zulaikha is seen lolling against one green pillow on the davenport. She is laughing, her posture seductive and tempting. Yusuf is pacing. Suddenly, he flashes her a look of reproof and impatience. Yusuf: Do you know who I am? Zulaikha: (Mirthfully) A cruel man! A handsome man! And a heartless man! Yusuf: (To himself) A Hebrew slave. The child of God! Still a child! No, no...not a man? Zulaikha: (Heedlessly) Since we don't seem to know each other, do you know who I am? Yusuf: (Smiling) How could I forget! Zulaikha, they call thee? The beautiful wife of my kind master, the governor of Egypt. Zulaikha: (Sweetly) Yet my husband has exalted thee, Yusuf. Exalted thee above all, like some king of the mountains? Yusuf: (Murmuring to himself) A king! A man, indeed! A wretched man! A child of God! A child, lost to his father? Zulaikha: (Stifling her mirth) Are you going to entertain me with the stories of your childhood, or with your lips divine? Yusuf: (Not meeting her gaze) My lips, if they be divine, my fair temptress, have the power to please many, but thee, no. A thousand times, no! Zulaikha: (Cupping her chin with both hands) Oh, how even the gods mock me! I shall be pleased, if not entertained, Yusuf. With words, if not with kisses, since that seems to be your command and pleasure? How long have I been pleading for your love, years, centuries? And keep this in mind, Yusuf, no man has ever spurned my favors or escaped my charms. But I will be your sweet audience, yearning to walk with you from the steps of your childhood to the threshold of your adolescence and manhood. Tell me, I want to know all. I might get to know you, to understand your piety and brute asceticism? To understand why you reject the jewels of my love. If only you knew their worth? Yusuf: (Dreamily) Your protestations of love! How long have you been tormenting me...years, eons? And you don't even know me? And yet, the story of a bondsman's past will not interest thee. No, you don't want to hear it. Zulaikha: (Her eyes shot open) It would interest me immensely, Yusuf! I am longing to hear it. I might be able to solve this puzzle, this mystery...why can't you love me? Yusuf: You dream of puzzles and mysteries yourself, Zulaikha! Can't you see the simple fact that you are the wife of Aziz, who happens to be my master and much more than that, the governor of Egypt. How can a man like me! A slave and a bondsman dare sin against his master...and against his God? Zulaikha: (Sadly) Love is never sinful, Yusuf, you have yet to learn another simple fact of life. Love is always pure and beautiful, and gods bless those who love truly! Truly and sinfully, if you must have it that way, but then gods forgive-- lovers, always forgive. No, don't let me plead anymore, just let me walk back with you to the valleys of your childhood and youth? Yusuf: (As if drifting in a dream) I am the son of Jacob in the line of God's men from Adam to Noah, to Abraham and Issac. We are twelve brothers. I am number eleven in succession, the oungest one is named Benjamin. When I was young, my father loved me the most, and my child-brother Benjamin, of course. I love Benjamin too, he is dearer to me than my own life. Well, when I was young, my father made me a coat of many colors with his own hands. I loved that coat and I loved my father, still do. I used to tell him all my dreams. The last dream which I shared with him was the one in which I could see clearly the sun, the moon and eleven stars, all these luminaries making obeisance to me. My father heard this dream and was afraid, fearing for me, for my life. He said I was blessed with holy wisdom...with wisdom to dream and to interpret dreams? I was young then, very young. Can't even remember where I lived, the land of Canaan, though most of childhood was spent there. All I remember is the jealousy of my brothers, because my father loved me. One evening all us brothers went to feed the flocks in Sheehem. I can still vividly picture myself coming out of the vale of Hebron, and then into the valley of Dothan. After that, my memory becomes dark and feeble. I was at the bottom of a deep, empty well. Later, much later, I learned that my brothers wanted to kill me. They were the ones who had pushed me into that well. They wanted me to die in there undiscovered. But then merchants from Gilead came and they sold me to the Ishmeelites for twenty dirhems. Those merchants brought me to Egypt. And you know the rest...those same merchants sold me to your husband. And what do I learn, he, the richest governor employed by the Pharaoh himself, and... {While Yusuf is talking and pacing, Zulaikha steals behind him, throwing her arms around him in an act of kissing.} Yusuf: (Wrenching himself free) Oh, shameless harlot! {Yusuf turns to flee, but Zulaikha catches the end of his robe. His silk robe is ripped, and Zulaikha is left with a torn piece clutched in her hands. Aziz storms into the room, almost colliding with Yusuf, whose attempt at flight is checked.} Zulaikha: (Lamenting suddenly) Aziz, look! This Hebrew slave of yours is attempting to seduce thy wife. {Aziz stands there in a paroxysm of shock and disbelief. His gaze lingering over Yusuf, then settling on his wife. He seems fascinated by the gleam of tears shining in her eyes, his own gaze gliding from her face down to her hands. Noticing a torn piece of silk through her fingers, a shadow of pain crosses his features, as if a serpent of evidence had stung his very heart. His voice torn between rage and restraint flutters in one wisp of a command.} Aziz: Zulaikha, clam yourself. And leave us, please. {As Zulaikha stumbles toward the door, Aziz snatches the shard of silk from her hands. Both men stand facing each other in mute abeyance. A blaze of pity from Aziz's eyes and of defiance from Yusuf's erecting a thick wall between them.} Aziz: Turn around, Yusuf. Yusuf: Sire! {Yusuf obeys reluctantly. Aziz's gaze is fixed to the mutilated robe, the torn piece in his own hand falling to the floor. His voice is thick and gentle as he speaks.} Aziz: What do you have to say in your defense? Yusuf: (Whirling back) That God is my witness! Aziz: (Sadly) Which God? The God of the Hebrews? Yusuf: The One and the Only God. Aziz: (A thin smile crossing his lips) Strange, this idea of one God? So, it appears, my wife did...well? I find thee blameless...you deserve a robe of honor, if not a new silk robe. God! this idea of one God fascinates me. We have many gods in Egypt. And goddess' too, with... {Pharaoh storms into the room, towering above both men like a Master of Fate.} Pharaoh: Your wife in tears, Aziz, and here you are talking with...with this Hebrew slave? Aziz: (Curtsying) Great Pharaoh. Yusuf: (Simultaneously) Great Pharaoh. Pharaoh: (To Yusuf) I remember you. I never forget a face. You are that Hebrew slave...oh, yes, are you not the one believing in some strange god, who claims to be the only One on earth and in heavens? You must come to the temple of Isis one day. It is an honor sublime to gaze upon the beauty of this goddess. She is the Virgin Mother. Her son, Horus, is the holy child, the miracle of a Virgin Birth. She is carved in ivory and marble, pure and sweet, holding her son. Our own, very own, Madonna and the Child. {Aziz is lost in some profound contemplations of his own, while Yusuf exclaims eagerly.} Yusuf: Virgin Birth, Great Pharaoh, if I may be as bold as to speak? When I was young, a stranger came to our house, telling us strange tales. I heard him explain the customs of his own land. He said that when a maiden is betrothed to a lad, the couple has to wait a long, long time before they are wedded. During this lapse of time between engagement and wedding, if the young couple can't restrain their passions, and the maiden conceives. She, the unwedded bride is sent to a distant cave to give birth. When the child is born, she returns, and is welcomed by her family and friends. This child of hers is considered holy, for they consider such conception and birth as Virgin Birth. Then she is wedded with all propitious rites, claiming the title of Virgin Mother? Pharaoh: (Laughing) That stranger must never have visited Egypt, otherwise, he could not dare malign the wills of the gods! Egypt is the land of milk and honey. Sacred as the Nile. More pure than the virgin dawns, which emerge and dissolve out of their unwedded joys like the celestial mists. We Egyptians are poets and dreamers. I came to share my dream with...yes, with Aziz. We Egyptians dream a lot, and I mean real, wholesome dreams. And not enough holy men to interpret such dreams. Yes, my Hebrew slave, not enough diviners to unveil these dreams. I don't have the power to interpret dreams either, though I am the god of Egypt. We Egyptians are seers, magicians, architects. Now watch and behold the power of my own miracles...and divinations. No dreams, just perception honed and polished. (Raises his right arm above his head) The miracle of life and death! Of Light and Darkness. Darkness descends upon us all, if our Hebrew slaves dare seduce the wives of Egyptian nobility? {The entire stage is dissolved in darkness. When the lights return, Zulaikha is seen pacing feverishly. Two young ladies are seated on the couch, watching her intently, rather amusedly. Still pacing, Zulaikha begins to talk and laugh under the spell of some swoon and delirium.} Zulaikha: You accuse me of being faithless to my lord, my husband? I am under some evil spell, you say? Wait, till you see the godlike face of my tormentor? I have invited him here today, so that you can see for yourself. You can see the sorcerer! The magician! The merciless god himself! You will be smitten by the arrows of Cupid in his gaze, I assure you. As soon as he sails in here, you will be groveling at his feet like the most abject of slaves. Your sanity ravished, and your desires wild and blazing! 1st Lady: (Tossing a grape in her mouth) He is a slave, isn't he, just a Hebrew slave? Why should you waste your charms on some base insect like him? You are the wife of our illustrious governor, you seem to forget. Any prince in Egypt would be honored to kiss your feet, if you but... Zulaikha: (Interrupting wildly) But, maybe, however, oh, such meaningless words! What prides and honors? Such torments indescribable! Have you ever suffered the sting of despair and anguish? 2nd Lady: (Sanctimoniously) Oh, this atrocious scandal, the canards floating around? The governor's wife in love with... dare I say it? How can your husband still love you, and I know he does, is beyond me? Zulaikha: (Heedlessly) Husband! How strange this word sounds? He loves me not, but that Hebrew slave? He deems Yusuf chaste and his own wife, a harlot? Oh, Yusuf, even his name tastes sweet on my lips. If I can't win his love, I want him tossed into some dungeon dark and loathsome. Banished from my sight, forever and eternally! Living in some foul tomb, where no chink of light ever enters...yes, he will be exiled and buried in such a tomb. Oh, vile, wicked thoughts. Perdition upon perdition. How black is my sorrow and how corrupt the soot of my vengeance! 1st Lady: (All agog) Is the Governor, your husband, not jealous? Zulaikha: Jealous! Aziz? No, a thousand times, no. He would be, if I fell in love with the Pharaoh, but then? Oh, wretched me, what am I saying? 1st Lady: (Assiduously) Just a Hebrew slave, as I said. Have him whipped, and then castrated! Don't you prefer eunuchs, if you know what I mean? Zulaikha: (Passionately) A slave! Holy Isis, no? He is a king. I am his slave, a lowly slave! obedient and devoted. Waiting, waiting... (Snatches apples from the basket and dumps one each in their plates beside the knives) You may peel and eat these apples only after he comes, not before. I have prepared a glorious feast for us all, later, later! You will be fed and feasted, don't worry... {Yusuf enters nonchalantly. He is smiling to himself. Zulaikha sails up to him, greeting him effusively.} Zulaikha: Yusuf. Yusuf: (With one mock curtsy) My Lady. {The two ladies sit there rapt and speechless. They can't take their eyes off from the face of this mortal god. They seem transported to some enchanted land, where nothing exists, but Love and Light. Motionless, they sit and gaze. Oblivious even to their own will-less effort in cutting the apples. They have cut the tender skin of their fingers instead. Feeling neither pain, nor the hot trickle of tiny beads, staining their hands with blood. Zulaikha claims Yusuf's hands, turning back, with the intention of introducing him to her friends. At the sight of blood, she covers her eyes, exclaiming.} Zulaikha: Holy Isis, look at you! How can you blame me... blaming me for falling in love? Look at your hands, bruised and bleeding. Oh, now my own heart is bleeding. {The ladies are startled to awareness. Aghast and stunned. Hiding their hands behind their backs, they leap to their feet. Their eyes are lit up with the lamps of shame and contrition, but no words escape their lips. Yusuf's own gaze is smoldering with the fire of stars bright and poignant, as he thinks aloud.} Yusuf: What mockery is this, fair ladies? I came here with no intention of injury, but hoping to make friends? Zulaikha: (Whirling to face Yusuf and flashing daggers with her eyes) Oh, injury most sweet! Oh, you base, pitiless sorcerer! How you stand there calm and unmoved? Does your cold heart throb not with pity? Oh, cruel man! Heartless man! (Her hands in an act of striking him fall limp to her sides as she notices Aziz storm into the parlor) Aziz: Witches' Sabbath is quieter than this den of iniquity! What bedlam is this, rocking the halls of our Pharaoh? Zulaikha: (Hysterically) Look, Aziz, look! Look, what your Hebrew slave has done? Woven the spell of sorcery over all? Look, how the hands of my friends are bruised and bleeding? Aziz: (Pale and aghast) Do you plead not-guilty to this charge, Yusuf, answer me! Yusuf: (Calmly) In the eyes of man, I may seem guilty. But in the eyes of my God... Aziz: (Interrupting with one violent gesture of his arm) Curse the gods! What God? You stand condemned! Zulaikha: (Beating her husband's chest with small fists) No, Aziz, no! In the holy name of Isis, no... Aziz: (Pushing his wife away) Leave me alone, you harlot most wretched. Or, you would be invoking the wrath of the very god, while my own would ferment vengeance. {The Pharaoh makes a breezy entrance. The flames of displeasure in his eyes wild and blazing. He charges toward Aziz.} Pharaoh: What blasphemy do I hear in my holy palace? This is my home, my sacred temple! What heresy is escaping thy lips... cursing the gods? {Aziz bends double in a low curtsy. Yusuf lowers his head as his mark of curtsy. The ladies stand there stunned, rather terror-stricken. Aziz springs straight, exclaiming feverishly.} Aziz: Great Pharaoh, my Hebrew slave here...is convicted on the charges of sorcery. He must be condemned to death, or lifetime imprisonment. Pharaoh: (Thundering) Cast him into a dungeon most vile and dark! We don't need sorcerers. We need seers, diviners! Sages and saints who have the power to interpret dreams! (Waving his arms imperiously) Oh, my dreams...who can touch and unfold my dreams? Is there even one wise man in this jungle of Egypt who could bestow speech to my dreams...cure my melancholia? Yes, yes, throw him into prison, whatever you will, Aziz. Now follow me. Zulaikha: (Kneeling before Pharaoh and clutching at the hem of his robe) No, Great Pharaoh, no! Pharaoh: (Flashing rage and disbelief) How dare? How dare you challenge the Pharaoh's command? (Raises his right arm over his head) Watch, how darkness descends on grief and sorrow. Zulaikha: (Lamenting) Spare him, Great Pharaoh! Save him from the indignity of prison gates. {Darkness descends on the stage, literally. When the lights return, Yusuf is pacing in his cell behind the bars. Two more prisoners are seen squatted on their straw-beds. They are watching Yusuf, their eyes glittering. One prisoner is waving his arm to catch Yusuf's attention.} 1st Prisoner: So, what is your offense? Were you not the favorite of the Governor? Yusuf: (Absently, to himself) Perfidy. Sorcery. Disloyalty! Fornication? 2nd Prisoner: (Hilariously) Don't you wonder why you are not stoned to death, or crucified? What a sight, if you were impaled alive on a gibbet? Yusuf: (Pacing and murmuring) A great wonder yet, that this life draws breath from death! 1st Prisoner: (Heedlessly) What perfidy, if that's what it is I am thinking of? Yusuf: (Dreamily) When reality is stripped naked of the garments of illusion, that must be the kind of perfidy, I mean. 1st Prisoner: You sure know how to talk in parables. What disloyalty? Yusuf: When the blade of truth casts off its raiments stitched with lies! 1st Prisoner: I don't understand parables. Are you a sorcerer? Yusuf: Weaving dreams into the tapestry of Reality, if that is sorcery? The prophecy of the deluded where no delusions breed. 1st Prisoner: No more parables, young comrade, we are simple folks. Did you commit adultery? Yusuf: (Deliriously) If untruth can seduce virtue, then my soul is the very harlot of lies! {Suddenly, Yusuf halts in the middle of the cell, staring vacantly at the wall. The other prisoner, caught in a volley of mirth, explodes forth.} 2nd Prisoner: Tell us, friend, tell us some more lies. You have lost your mind, I reckon. How long has it been since you saw the light of the day? Yusuf: Only a moment long, in truth. And that is an eternity. 2nd Prisoner: I have heard you can interpret dreams. Do you? Yusuf: If dreams speak the language of the souls! 2nd Prisoner: What soul? Yusuf: (Pacing and thinking aloud) The one soul. The very same one. The soul, tossed into the fires of perdition, along with the shadows of lies, dreams, illusions! 1st Prisoner: (Abruptly and impatiently) Quiet, I say, quiet! Not another word. You think you are a philosopher, don't you? (Suddenly meek and remorseful) I mean...I say this as a friend. You are my friend...and a philosopher, I reckon. How long have you been dreaming...I mean...this philosophy, what is it? I have heard the guards say, you worship some strange God. Only one God, fancy that? And they say, you are wise and you know a lot. Can you see right through the thin air? I mean, right into the eyes of the future. This prison is turning me into a poet, though my friend here thinks, I curse and blaspheme? 1st Prisoner: I am a poet myself! You are right though you do curse and blaspheme and I don't. Yusuf: (To 1st Prisoner) More accursed you then, for poets get their inspiration from the devil. 2nd Prisoner: (Laughing) And dreamers, from the pants of Lucifer himself! Though I myself have baked quite a few dreams in the royal kitchen of the Pharaoh. Have tasted their bitterness too, rising like the balls of sourdough. I was a baker, you know, my dreamer friend. Come, sit by me, I will tell you my dream, though it has little to do with baking. Yusuf: (Hysterically) Dreams, dreams and more dreams! I have been living dreams since I was born. 2nd Prisoner: Now, friend, mind you! You are raving. Get your wits together, listen. {The 1st Prisoner shakes his head violently, his eyes shining with agog and excitement. Yusuf's mirth is truncated suddenly. His eyes are turned to the ceiling as if he is suspended in some daze. Though his expression is bright and profound.} 2nd Prisoner: (Reluctantly) I dreamt last night... 1st Prisoner: (Interrupting) You dream every night, nothing new, the same fuzzy dreams! Our friend here, and you too, should be listening to what I have to tell. Are you listening, my friend? (Continues without waiting for any response) Oh, such a beautiful dream! I have never dreamt like this before. A great, big vine in my dream. And on this vine three branches. And it was as though it budded. And her blossoms shot forth. And clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes. 2nd Prisoner: (Grinning to himself and seeking Yusuf's attention) Listen to him...he was a butler in the household of the Pharaoh, couldn't you tell? And in his time, he had mixed many such dreams in many cups of wine. Yusuf: (Speaking in a trance) The three branches of the vine are three days. Within three days, Pharaoh will restore thee to thy place, and you will be his cup-bearer again. 1st Prisoner: (Leaping to his feet and exclaiming) Praised be Ra, Hapi, Ptah, Khnemu and all the gods in Egypt! Pharaoh's birthday is coming up. I knew it, I knew it. Now I know I will be released. 2nd Prisoner: (Hastily) Now, friend, listen to my dream! Don't shut me out? Are you listening? My dream will make even the Pharaoh come crawling to me. Are you listening, tell me, you are? Yusuf: (Drowsily) I am listening, I am listening. Now say something or I will fall asleep for sure. 2nd Prisoner: Oh, yes, let me think. In my dream, well, I saw myself in my dream. Three white baskets on my head. On the top basket there were so many bakemeats for the Pharaoh. Oh, and the birds, they did eat them out of the basket on my head! Yusuf: (Tonelessly) The three baskets are three days. Yet, within three day, the Pharaoh will hang thee on a tree. And the birds will eat thy flesh from off thee. 2nd Prisoner: (Shuddering and stumbling to his feet) Holy gods! What evil fates you see in my dream, that's not true? I myself will cook Pharaoh in hot oil, and carrion will tear his own flesh from his bones. (With a frantic wave of his arms at both men) You two will be roasting in the fires of hell, while I will be the one, free, free! (Raises his right hand over his head) I am a magician and sorcerer too! Just like the Pharaoh of Egypt. Watch and tremble. How darkness visits you both with the swords of death? Yusuf: (Smiling to himself) Life itself will be revealed from darkness, from the very tomb of death. {The whole stage is enveloped in darkness. When the lights return, Yusuf is alone in his cell. His head is cradled between his knees and hands. Zulaikha steals closer to the dark cell. The two ladies from the first scene linger behind. They stand still, watching and whispering.} Zulaikha: (Softly) And why do you still choose this prison as your accursed abode, when the Pharaoh has ordered your release? {Zulaikha stumbles into the cell, and sinks down on the cot opposite Yusuf. Yusuf is startled to his feet, his gaze unseeing.} Yusuf: This is my first home, a peaceful one! My sanctuary, from the prison of temptation? Zulaikha: (Laughing) Do I still tempt thee. Yusuf: (Pacing) With your ignorance! Zulaikha: Alas, in my ignorance, I have chosen chaperons to watch my shame. Yusuf: (Heedlessly) And I a shameless wretch choose to be tempted by a chaste wife. And she will stay chaste, if I am her only victim, suffering the guiles of her beauty! You need not woo a condemned man, my lady. Zulaikha: (Protesting) I didn't come here to woo thee, love! But to grind some sense into your slavish head! The Pharaoh commands your presence. And if you do not obey, the lions are ready to feed on your flesh. You will be flayed alive first, of course. {Yusuf keeps pacing without saying a word. He seems oblivious to his surroundings, not even aware of his own pacing. Zulaikha watches him sadly, rather apprehensively. Then murmurs aloud to herself.} Zulaikha: I should have known? The two prisoners who were released, told me so. He is demented and delirious, they said? Yusuf: (Suddenly) Where did those two prisoners go? Were they released, really? Zulaikha: (Sadly) Yes, of course. Fulfilling your prophecy to the hilt. Meeting their destiny most obediently. The body and soul of the baker are as dry as bones. Though he could be thinking, if alive, that he was hanging from a tree of life? The cup-bearer, happily reinstalled in the service of the pharaoh, serving wine from the gold flagons. {Yusuf keeps pacing and seems not to be listening. Zulaikha tosses her head to one side in one impatient gesture, her voice soft and imploring.} Zulaikha: Yusuf, do you even know? Do you know that you have been released from the prison by the orders of our solar, he must have at least two birthdays in a year? Zulaikha: (With a joyless smile) A yearly birthday, but a third one since those two wretches were released. Yusuf: So, that's how long it has been since my so-called friends got the time to plead my cause to the Pharaoh? I have been dreaming, is that it? For two whole years? Zulaikha: (Apprehensively) Are you raving again, Yusuf? For how long have you been dreaming, can you say that again? Yusuf: For nine hundred and sixty-nine years. Zulaikha: (Hysterically) You must be Methuselah's younger brother then...a mere lad even with that many years behind? He was your brother in divinations, wasn't he? Believe my, Yusuf, since you have been languishing in the prison, I have been schooling myself in the Scriptures sacred and profane. Your idea of one God, and your God himself sounds very jealous and wrathful? Yusuf: (Deliriously) My God, the most holy of all holies! The One and Only! The Omniscient and the Omnipresent, and Omnipotent! The only Friend of us all sinners. He is the father of all holiness. Without His Divine aid we cannot survive. Zulaikha: Was Lot no holy. Why didn't your God save his wife? Did your God ever lift a finger to save you from this dungeon of Yusuf: (Whirling back to face her) Did the Pharaoh send you to test my faith? Or, does he wish to challenge it by the rod of cruelty and kindness both? Zulaikha: I don't take commands from the Pharaoh, Yusuf! But I did come on my own to offer you a kind suggestion. And that is, you must leave this abode of darkness, and return to the Pharaoh. Yusuf: (Laughing) Why? Is the Pharaoh dreaming again? Zulaikha: Always dreaming! Yusuf: Then I must practice my magic which I have learned from the Pharaoh himself. (Raising his right hand over his head) Come, darkness! Find a home away from the light of this fair beauty. {Darkness envelops the stage. The lights return to the scene in the parlor. Aziz and Yusuf are seated on a couch. The Pharaoh is installed on a velvet chair. The former prisoner, now a cup-bearer, is replenishing Pharaoh's jeweled cup with wine. Aziz is sipping wine from his own gold cup. Yusuf is seated on the other matching chair, forlorn and thoughtful. His gaze is fixed to the marble statuette of Isis on the center table. Pharaoh drains his goblet absently, turning his attention to Yusuf.} Pharaoh: You have a great talent for interpreting dreams, my Hebrew salve, it is fascinating! You have a divine gift. How you interpreted the dreams of those two prisoners, is beyond belief! Unfortunately, you were kept in prison much longer than those two released on my birthday. They were both released, it's true, but what punishment was to land on the One and what mercy bestowed on the Other, your foresight is astounding? One is standing before thee as a living proof of your divination, and the other hanging somewhere between heaven and earth. God knows, where? You must have guessed why I summoned you here. Yes, dreams, dreams and more dreams. I have been having this one dream, rather two at one time, night after night, and no seer, sage or High Priest in all of Egypt have been able to divine their meaning. I expect you to interpret these dreams, and you will receive rewards greater than your own dreams. Yusuf: (Humbly) Rewards, Great Pharaoh, are from God alone. And with the divine will of my own God, I will be able to catch the message of your dreams. Pharaoh: (Impatiently) Then invoke your God for Grace and Knowledge, o divine slave, and heed carefully. (Reminiscently) In my dream I was standing by the river. And behold, there came up out of the river seven well favored kine and fatfleshed. And they fed in a meadow. And behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favored and lean fleshed. And stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. I was awakened then, and drifting back into sleep, dreaming this other dream. Behold, seven ears of corn came up on one stalk, rank and good. And behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprang up after them. And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. Yusuf: (Dreamily) Both these dreams, Great Pharaoh, are but one. Pharaoh: (Holding out his cup for replenishing) I knew that, my royal perception whispered to me. Aziz: (Cheerfully) Now, we will be getting closer to the paradox of these dreams! Yusuf: (Trancelike) The seven good kine are seven years. And the seven good ears are seven years. And the seven thin and ill favored kine that came up after them are seven years. And the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind will be seven years of famine. There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. And there will rise after them seven years of famine. And all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. And the famine will consume the land. And the plenty will not be known in the land by the reason of that famine following. For it shall be very grievous. Pharaoh: (Declaring) Ah, what clairvoyance you reveal, o wise slave! We will not let this famine gnaw at the soul of Egypt. You are wise and divinely inspired, my Hebrew salve. No, no slave, but a king! Yes, a king, and king of kings of all kingdoms. From this day on, you will rule Egypt with your gifts of wisdom and divination. (Slips his signet ring off and holds it out to Yusuf) With this ring as your talisman, you have the power to rule over all Egypt. Great will be my power on the throne of Egypt, while your power of wisdom will wield the land and revenue. Accept this boon of power and rejoice. I even confess, if not blaspheme, that greater is your God than all the gods in Egypt. Yusuf: (Curtsying low and claiming the ring) Thank you, Great Pharaoh! The greatest reward from God's own Mercy. Aziz: (Concealing his jealousy in mirth) Welcome to Egypt, Yusuf, as a free man. Brother! Yusuf: (Beaming) Thank you, sire. Pharaoh: (To Yusuf) Gold, fine linen and vestures are yours to command. And chariots and treasures too. During those seven years of plenty, you will gather and store all grain in the granaries. And for the next seven, you will be able to feed the gluttony of famine with your own wisdom and purity of heart. (Becoming aware of Aziz's silence and sadness, and laughing) What gloom sits on your brow, Aziz? Don't you find Yusuf worthy Aziz: (Humbly) The purest, Great Pharaoh. No man in Egypt can claim to have such a pure heart and mind! Pharaoh: No man, yes! Not even a saint in the great tomb of Thebes can match his noble character. (Flashing a mischievous look at Aziz) You have to admit, Aziz, that no man in my entire court can't help but fall in love with lovely Zulaikha! With the exception of the Pharaoh, of course. Are you still in love with your wife, Aziz, tell me? Aziz: Much too much, Great Pharaoh! Like a devotee at the shrine of some goddess. Much like an abject slave, in fact! So much so, that at times I can't endure the agony...the fetters! Pharaoh: (Laughing) That kind of love is beyond Pharaoh's comprehension! I must remain the master in love and in everything which I possess. Warring many a loves within and emerging forth like a victor, always! Brandishing the laurels of passions insatiate and insatiable like some mad, merciless god of wars and loves. (Shifting his attention to Yusuf) You must be wedded, my young cavalier, now that you are the savior of Egypt. Pharaoh, in his head, has already chosen a bride for thee. One lovely daughter of the High Priest. Her name is Asenath, this name worthy of her beauty. You are permitted to choose an auspicious day for the wedding, and the whole Egypt will hear the wedding bells of joy and feasting. Yusuf: (Nervously) I...Great Pharaoh! I mean...am honored. But... Pharaoh: (Laughing) This land of milk and honey will not let thee stay celibate! There is no famine of beautiful maidens in the heart of Egypt, ever, not ever! Such a garden blooms here eternally. By the grace of God, of all gods...by the command of the Pharaoh. Yusuf: I need...time, Great Pharaoh. To think... Pharaoh: (Impatiently) Think? Egyptians never think, but act! We believe in action, erecting temples, pyramids, great tombs! Our hearts rising aloft, beyond timelessness. Into the glorious abodes of the gods and goddess' themselves. Yusuf: (Softly) There is only one God, Great Pharaoh. And to reach Him, one needs not rise high, but sink low. Deeper and deeper into the oceans of humility and surrender. Only when one tastes the morsel of humility that one experiences the Presence Pharaoh: (With sudden ire) What strange paradoxes men nurture in thoughts mindless! (Gets to his feet, his hand poised over his head) O Sons of Darkness, Pharaoh commands you to cast a veil of blackness over the eyes of the Sons of Light. Time will rest there for seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine, till the Nile itself will gather moonlit tides to absolve all dreams, famines, illusions! Lending the jewel of Egypt the gleam of Bliss, Purity, Wisdom. {Aziz and Yusuf rise to their feet as the one bewitched. Darkness envelops the stage. When the lights return, Yusuf is seen leaning against the wall of his former prison. He is immersed deep in thought. The cup-bearer approaches him unnoticed.} Cup-bearer: Why do you seek the walls of the prison when the palace of Great Pharaoh welcomes you with open arms? Yusuf: (Startled) To contemplate my sorrow! Cup-bearer: What sorrows you have when our Great Pharaoh the god bestows on you his favors and fortunes? You ride his Second Chariot, all gilded and tapestried. Wear the finest linen in all Egypt! Gold chains embellished with most precious jewels are yours to display or discard? You rule over Egypt. Men bow before you like lowly slaves. Even the kings do the same when they need your riches more than your wisdom? Seven long years, how quickly they are gone! And I have heard the grain in your granaries is hoarded like the nuggets of gold. You are wise, they all say! And this wisdom alone earns you the title of a king. What more can a man want, except the love of a woman? And you have that too. Well, you know what I mean? The daughter of the High Priest is pining for your love, while you make yourself scarce. Trooping from one city to the other in pursuit of your love for gold, I mean, corn. Hey, when do we hear the wedding bells? (Edging closer and touching Yusuf's sleeve) This is the finest linen I have ever seen on any man's sleeve in Egypt. And those gold bangles, what fortunes you carry on your arms? Yusuf: (Jerking away his arm) Pity, that you do not see the rags in fortunes in which my soul is clothed. Cup-bearer: (Jumping back with a broad smile) If those rags are like the coat of many colors which your father made for you, then I am curious to see those rags, as well as the riches? Yusuf: (To himself) White grief bleeding through the color red in wounds. Cup-bearer: Now I believe what they say, you are a poet too! I may not be wise, but I know what your grief is. You are mourning for the living. Longing to be with your old father. He is alive, isn't he? Your brothers too, who came to buy the grain? They didn't recognize you, though. Wonder, why you didn't tell them? Some say you are the Prince of Darkness, don't believe myself, mind you. Your brothers are just a little short of cold-blooded murderers, you have to admit. They took your coat of many colors and dumped you in an empty well. Then sold you...what, for a few dirhems? You must be mad, I reckon, filling their sacks with corn and returning their money too hidden in their sacks? And happily they sail back to Canaan! Maybe there is a method to your madness, who knows? Your favorite, youngest brother was not there, and you commanded them to bring him along if they dared come back? Are you afraid now, that they would never return? Benjamin, isn't that the name of your favorite brother? You might never see him, or your dear father? Why don't you go to Canaan yourself? It would be better if you saw them...yes, you will feel better if you go to Canaan. Yusuf: (Pacing and thinking aloud) Go to Canaan! How, when Pharaoh needs me the most, here? Now, that is, more than ever. Cup-bearer: (Chuckling) No one needs anyone in this world absolutely, you are wise, you should know that. The world doesn't go round and round chasing men, but fates do...how is this for a golden saying for a man like me who is not wise? Yusuf: (To himself) Fates conspire and challenge. But Destiny, it gathers all in its bosom without a threat or warning. Though even the webs of fate, or the hands of destiny, all succumb to the will of one God. And in the end, it doesn't matter if one obeys or disobeys, for all are brought to obedience by the divine will of one and only God. Cup-bearer: (Hilariously) Gods! How men rant and curse. We in Egypt exalt our gods, then discard them like old clothes, then raise them high again, then bring them low...oh, these gods and goddess'. Egypt is full of them! Mightiest of the gods, Hapi, Ptah, Khnemu! Beautiful goddess', Nut, Neit, Hathor, Sekhet! Isis, the Virgin Mother. Osiris, the resurrected god and father. Horus, the divine son! Hey, tell me, what does your God look like? Yusuf: (Murmuring) Like Light. Cup-bearer: Like our god Ra, the Sun? Yusuf: No, the pure, virgin Light. Cup-bearer: Like our goddess Nut then, the queen of the dawn? Yusuf: (His feet coming to an abrupt halt and his eyes blazing) No! He has no likeness to anyone! Or Anything. That kind of Light is not seen by mortal eyes, only through perception. The purest of the purest! This Light cannot be molded or reflected. It is Light supreme and Light inviolate. Cup-bearer: (Eagerly) Where does this Light come from? Yusuf: From the Essence of Light. Cup-bearer: Have you seen that Light? Yusuf: (Knotting his hands behind his back) This Light, naked as Fear. More dazzling than the sparkle of Love! Abraham saw this Light. Isaac inherited it. And Jacob my father is guarding it for me. In turn, I will bestow on... Cup-bearer: (Quick to snatch the words out of a brief pause) On your children, I know. That is if you decide to marry before it is too late! Right now, I am the one who is going to save you from the glare of light. (Raising his right hand over his head) Nut, my beautiful goddess, could you please mate with the night till the fates could awaken us to the call of our own rude destiny? {Darkness engulfs the stage. Lights return and the Pharaoh is seated on his velvet chair, attended by his cup-bearer. Aziz and Yusuf are seated on the couch, side-by-side. Pharaoh sips his wine thoughtfully, before commenting aloud.} Pharaoh: Famine is sore all over the land. Our gods command that we preserve the grain, and save it for the people of Egypt. Yusuf: (Brimming with zeal) Great Pharaoh, my God commands that we feed the world, and let no one go hungry on the face of this earth. Pharaoh: (Thundering) And how do you propose to do that, my wise counselor? Five more years of famine, or there are still six left? Aziz: (Murmuring to himself) Gods. Did we ever thank them when we had seven years of plenty? Yusuf: (His zeal deflated) Time devours seven years quickly, Great Pharaoh. And time itself will herald the death of this famine in no time! The more grain we sell, the more it seems to multiply in our granaries. Pharaoh: (His gaze shifting from one to the other) And now that the money is rendered useless by the very curse of this famine, what do you sell the grain for? Yusuf: (Sadly) For asses and cattle. For flocks and horses. For all herd, Great Pharaoh. Aziz: (Murmuring again) It seems, Egypt has no dearth of either grain or viands. {The cup-bearer, noticing the empty goblets, replenishes them with mute devotion.} Pharaoh: And when the supply of cattle fails, what would you barter it for? Yusuf: For land, Great Pharaoh. I would give them bread for a piece of land. And then Great Pharaoh would rule all the kingdoms far and wide. Pharaoh: The lands, which yield no crop? The barren lands, incult and desolate! Yusuf: (Prophetically) Those lands, Great Pharaoh, would yield bounteously. Those lands would be purchased in your name, Great Pharaoh, and you would own the farmers too. I would give them seed, and they would till and cultivate. Even if they could keep four fifths of the crop, the fifth would add riches to your treasuries. Your wealth would grow and multiply. Egypt would prosper, not only in riches, but in justice and generosity too. Pharaoh: (Laughing) You are a mighty plotter, my handsome sage! But tell me, what sad malady clouds your brow? (Shifting his gaze to Aziz) You tell me, my reticent governor, why this handsome youth is gloomy and forlorn, of late? Aziz: He is suffering the pangs of remorse, Great Pharaoh. Or, rather longing to be with his aged father. Also pining to see his youngest brother, his name is Benjamin. Pharaoh: (Reminiscently) I remember now, his brothers, were they not here a year ago! I myself was witness to their secret laments, they didn't know Pharaoh could hear them. They were doing some sort of penance, repenting of their follies past? Some heinous sin they had committed. I heard them mention Reuben who had admonished them: I saved you all from a grievous sin...didn't I say don't shed his blood? And then your brother Judah was saying: I am the one who said don't slay him, sell him? I could never forget Judah's voice, Yusuf, deep and hoarse. Did they tell you how they stained your coat of many colors with the blood of a wolf. And carried that garment to your father, telling him that the wolf has devoured you. If it had, we would have never known you, Yusuf. (Turning his attention to Aziz) Find a cure to Yusuf's malady, Aziz, and the Pharaoh will reward you bounteously. Aziz: (Winsomely) Great Pharaoh, send him to Canaan. To be with his family is the only cure to his malady. Pharaoh: (Thoughtfully) No, Pharaoh can't afford to lose him even for a day! All wisdom, kindness, generosity would abandon Egypt, if he left. No, a thousand times, no! Would you like to return to Canaan, Yusuf, tell me, don't fear my denial or consent. Yusuf: (Laconically) No, Great Pharaoh. Pharaoh: A prudent response, Yusuf. Or, you might have invoked my anger and jealousy. Egypt is your dream, and that's where you will find the fulfillment of your dream. What was your dream, you told me, but I forget? Yusuf: In my dream I saw eleven stars, Great Pharaoh, and the stars and the Sun and the Moon made obeisance to me. Pharaoh: (Fervently) Today, I will be your diviner, Yusuf, to reveal your own dream to you with the words of divine inspiration. Didn't you tell me you have twelve brothers? You dreamt of eleven stars, and those eleven stars are your own brothers. The Moon in your dream is your youngest brother. And the Sun, your aged father. Now that you are literally ruling Egypt with wisdom and kindness, they will all come here. And they would kneel before you, seeking mercy and forgiveness. Yusuf: (Smiling) Thank you, Great Pharaoh. I am grateful for your kind words. But I want the love of my brothers, not their subservience. And my father, if I ever get to see him, I will be the one kneeling and kissing his feet. Bathing his feet with tears, until his sweet blessings give me strength to rise to my feet. Pharaoh: (To Aziz) I think Yusuf likes not Egypt? What could we do with this heathen, Aziz? Sadness sits upon his brow like a curse, and the Pharaoh likes it not. Aziz: (Genially) Yusuf likes Egypt fairly well, Great Pharaoh, I am sure of that. Only his love for his father and Benjamin is breeding inside him like a canker. Pharaoh: (Rising to his feet abruptly) Then we must pluck this canker out before it festers. You shall have all, my wise diviner. Love and riches both, and your wishes fulfilled. You will be united with your father...and your brothers. Pharaoh himself will command wagons furnished with costly rugs. And asses laden with provisions of meat and bread. And raiments of silk and linen. And chests filled with silver coins. You yourself, Yusuf, will watch over all these preparations. Then you will choose worthy men to journey to Canaan along with all those precious gifts to fetch your father and brothers to Egypt. They will dwell in the land of Goshen in palaces large and luxurious. Yusuf: (Agitated) Pardon me, Great Pharaoh. Your generosity moves me and I am grateful. But I must decline such costly gifts. My brothers...and my father too...they will come if it is ordained. Pharaoh: (Imperiously) O wretch ingrate! Must you invoke the rage of the Pharaoh? And Pharaoh must shackle thee to his own will, in Egypt, in Egypt! A small potion to your sadness, I myself must concoct. You must be wedded to Asenath. The wait has been too long. Pharaoh commands it. Yusuf: (Plea shining in his eyes) Only God... Pharaoh: (Thundering) In this land of Egypt, Pharaoh is--God! And he must be obeyed. Yusuf: (Murmuring) My father must see his beloved son wedded thus... Aziz: (To himself) A wedding at last. Pharaoh: (Raising his right arm over his head) Pharaoh--the God, commands darkness. {All men are swallowed in darkness. When the lights return, Yusuf is seated on the couch with his face cradled in his hands. His fingers are pressed to his temples, as if he is trying to crush his thoughts to oblivion. Zulaikha appears on the stage, arrayed in blue silks. Her hair is braided with diamonds.} Zulaikha: Heartless as ever, dear Yusuf! Are you still bound to your vow of celibacy? Yusuf: (Entranced) I am wedded to my Beloved...in Truth. Zulaikha: If Truth be truth, Yusuf, then you are corrupted. Sinfully corrupted! Truth, as you men prophesy, is God! And God, as you men believe, is male, isn't that the truth? Then your Beloved is as barren as me, breeding no fruits of love, but the mists of a sad delusion. Such wedlock most despised! Is it fated that I must remain the object of mockery? Unloved and rejected! But mind you, this grieves me no more. Your sadness of late, cuts through me like a sword. (Lowering herself on the other end of the couch) Betrothed to Asenath, are you not? Pharaoh has power over you, and that makes him happy, commanding men even in the arena of love? Are you in love, with beautiful Asenath, I mean? Yusuf: (Murmuring) Yes, in love, with Truth again, and sadness too! (Begins to pace) Zulaikha: (Sadly) I know your sadness, Yusuf, and your soul too. Mine own reaching out and being repulsed. Seven years of plenty...a long, long century I have ever lived through! You becoming indispensable to the Pharaoh, and a stranger to me? Now a second year of famine, is that right? And you the god of wisdom and benevolence! The last time I saw you like this was when your brothers had come from Canaan to buy food. And you, the suffered and the suffering, always, is that it? How you filled their sacks with corn, returning their money too, inside the sacks! Didn't you demand that they must bring their youngest brother with them if they ever return to Egypt to buy more food? I hear, they have come back. Have they brought your beloved Benjamin with them? {Yusuf keeps pacing, only darting one feverish look at Zulaikha. She continues softly as if coaxing a child.} Zulaikha: Are you suffering, Yusuf? I mean, longing to see your father? His name is Jacob, didn't you say that? I hear, he is wise, and loving. Kind and compassionate, even to the sinners? Yusuf: (Speaking to himself in some sort of daze) Yes, to my sinful brothers, he is kind and loving. The brothers who wronged me, and him! Separated me from my father, much to his grief and disconsolation! My father, he has grown old, I hear. Old and blind. Weeping all those years...thinking me dead...devoured by a wolf. And now, a base wretch that I am, I am plotting evil schemes to reveal myself to my brothers. To let them know in some wicked fashion that, yes, I am Yusuf whom they wronged. To take them back to the scene of their own crime when they tossed me into a dry well, then they sold me to the Ishmeelites. (In some fit of frenzy and passion) I am no god, Zulaikha as you deem me to be. I am a wicked, sinful man! Let me reveal my own evil nature and wickedness to you. Last night, I filled the sacks of my brothers with corn again, their money too, concealed in there. But in the sack of Benjamin, I dropped my silver cup. When my brothers loaded their saddlebags on their camels, I dispatch ed a steward after them. Proclaiming that the king's cup is stolen. My brothers swore that they had not stolen anything. They were willing to let the steward search their bags. Also, pledging their honor that if anyone of them was found guilty of a theft, he would become the king's slave, at his mercy to die or live! It was my design, the way I had pictured it to myself, so that I could keep Benjamin with me. When the cup was found in Benjamin's sack, my brothers started weeping and pleading. That was when I made myself known to them. And yet, my evil plot was dissolved in my own tears. I was the one, imploring them to fetch my father, nay, the whole household of Jacob to Egypt. They will dwell in the land of Goshen, as Pharaoh promised. But my brothers, they don't believe me, they fear me? Thinking, that I will wreak vengeance in the end? (Throwing his arms up desperately) God, you are my witness, no spark of vengeance breathes in my heart. I love you God, my God. I fear you alone, my God! Zulaikha: (Moved and puzzled) Why do you fear your God if you love Him? Yusuf: (Feverishly) God! Yes. Why do I love and fear him both? I guess, for His own designs of Grace and vengeance, which are inconceivable. Zulaikha: (Murmuring) Love is not fear. It is pure bliss. Absolute surrender. Yusuf: (Incredulously) How Truth speaks through the lips of a beautiful woman is a miracle of God Himself! I need to wallow in my own Ignorance. Yes, wise Zulaikha, how I may suffer love-- in fear, to absolve my sufferings. Zulaikha: Is fear greater than love, Yusuf? Or, is there any wisdom in suffering? Yusuf: Parables all! God is one, and the belief in oneness of God is wisdom--and suffering? In that realm of cosmic belief, both Love and Fear are as incomprehensible as the invisible stars of blind Faith. Zulaikha: (Smiling) Is your God a happy God, or a sad One? God of joy, or God of grief? Of mercy, or of vengeance? Could He be the God of both evil and good? Of Light and Darkness? Of wrath and kindness? Of hatred and compassion? Yusuf: (Dejectedly) A God of Hope, I hope? Zulaikha: (Laughing suddenly) Then cast away your fears, Yusuf. You will suffer no more! Yusuf: (Flinging himself on the couch hopelessly) Yes, my God will have mercy on me. On my brothers too. And on the house of Jacob. We will be reunited. My God forgives. He is the most merciful, the most forgiving. He forgives His sons! Zulaikha: (Snatching Yusuf's hand into her own) May I pray to your God, Yusuf? (Closes her eyes) Forgive me, God. But may I plead a boon? Do you bestow mercy on daughters, as well as on sons? The Curtain
MARTITA SÓLO UNA IDEA... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Se fuga, en silencio una idea de mi cabeza. De puntillas y sin hacer apenas ruido, se desliza hasta otro cerebro. Afinca sus apoyos, aletarga su existencia, y así se comunica. Se expande, como el sonido hasta rebotar contra otros ideales. Lucha a muerte, una contra otra, hasta que la más fuerte se impone. Y mientres quede alguien a quien poder avasallar, continuará sin pausa la mejor manera de hablar. AN IDEA ONLY... ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Silently, an idea escapes my head. On tiptoe and with barely a sound, it slides toward another brain. It establishes its supports, makes its existence lethargic , and communicates thus. It expands, like sound until it bounces against other ideals. A fight to the death, one against the other, until the strongest one prevails. And as long as anyone remains who can be conquered, it will continue without pause the best way to speak.
TIERRA Tierra trágame, cómeme y no me dejes salir. Hazme tu prisionera para siempre, eterna. Quiero dormir en tu negro lecho de arena , y morirme en tus brazos de dolor. Cógeme, llévame contigo hasta que la Luna salga. No quiero ser parte del planeta sin historia; por eso tómame, apriétame contra tus enfurecidos senos. Hazme desaparecer durante un siglo, o una vida entera. Irme lejos, al origen de la esfera, y morirme, morirme en tu cuerpo, en tu alma. EARTH ~~~~~ Earth swallow me, eat me don't let me leave. Make me your prisoner forever, eternal. I want to sleep in your black bed of sand , and die of sorrow in your arms. Take me, carry me with you until the moon comes out. I don't want to be part of the planet without history; so take me, squeeze me against your enraged breasts. Make me disappear for a century, or an entire life. To go far, to the beginning of the sphere, and die, die in your body, in your soul.
S K Iyer In The Desert ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the desert, In search of shade, I wandered, And I found My shadow! In search of refuge In my shadow I tried in vain To find shelter In my own shade! Had you been with me, I'd have found Shade in yours, And you In my shadow! So is life, As I see it, Looking for shadow And living In another's shade!


   Danielle Wolferd
   The Morning Routine
   I open my eyes to find him rising:
   Coffee with milk, sugar too,
   Muscles stretching through 
   the arms that held me last night. 
   Hands, fingers extended, stretched toward heaven;
   The back of his head: curly swirls of fudge chocolate chip.  I
      want a double dip;
   waffle cone, please. 
   Long, lean legs: mine used to look like that.  
   Still the Mr. must possess a Doberman, Pit Bull, or Rothwieler--maybe.
   Same moves; I like to sleep 
   right across the morning, waiting for the day unfold its warmth.  
   I close my eyes.  								 
   A morning dove is sitting on our bedroom window. 



A New Age: The Centipede Network Of Artists, Poets, & Writers
An Informational Journey Into A Creative Echonet [9310]
(C) CopyRight "I Write, Therefore, I Develop" By Paul Lauda

       Come one, come all! Welcome to Newsgroup alt.centipede. Established 
       just for writers, poets, artists, and anyone who is creative. A 
       place for anyone to participate in, to share their poems, and 
       learn from all.  A place to share *your* dreams, and philosophies. 
       Even a chance to be published in a magazine.

       The original Centipede Network was created on May 16, 1993. 
       Created because there were no other networks dedicated to such 
       an audience, and with the help of Klaus Gerken, Centipede soon 
       started to grow, and become active on many world-wide Bulletin 
       Board Systems.

       We consider Centipede to be a Public Network; however, its a
       specialized network, dealing with any type of creative thinking.
       Therefore, that makes us something quite exotic, since most nets
       are very general and have various topics, not of interest to a
       writer--which is where Centipede steps in! No more fuss. A writer
       can now access, without phasing out any more conferences, since 
       the whole net pertains to the writer's interests. This means 
       that Centipede has all the active topics that any creative 
       user seeks. And if we don't, then one shall be created.

       Feel free to drop by and take a look at newsgroup alt.centipede

  Ygdrasil is committed to making literature available, and uses the
  Internet as the main distribution channel. On the Net you can find all
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  . REMEMBERY: EPYLLION IN ANAMNESIS (1996), poems by Michael R. Collings

  . DYNASTY (1968), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE WIZARD EXPLODED SONGBOOK (1969), songs by KJ Gerken
  . STREETS (1971), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . BLOODLETTING (1972) poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . ACTS (1972) a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . RITES (1974), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FULL BLACK Q (1975), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . ONE NEW FLASH OF LIGHT (1976), a play by KJ Gerken
  . THE BLACKED-OUT MIRROR (1979), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . JOURNEY (1981), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . LADIES (1983), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FRAGMENTS OF A BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1984), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE BREAKING OF DESIRE (1986), poems by KJ Gerken
  . FURTHER SONGS (1986), songs by KJ Gerken
  . POEMS OF DESTRUCTION (1988), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE AFFLICTED (1991), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . DIAMOND DOGS (1992), poems by KJ Gerken
  . KILLING FIELD (1992), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . BARDO (1994-1995), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FURTHER EVIDENCES (1995-1996) Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . CALIBAN'S ESCAPE AND OTHER POEMS (1996), by Klaus J. Gerken 
  . CALIBAN'S DREAM (1996-1997), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE LAST OLD MAN (1997), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . WILL I EVER REMEMBER YOU? (1997), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . SONGS FOR THE LEGION (1998), song-poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . REALITY OR DREAM? (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . APRIL VIOLATIONS (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE VOICE OF HUNGER (1998), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken

  . SHACKLED TO THE STONE, by Albrecht Haushofer - translated by JR Wesdorp

  . MZ-DMZ (1988), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . DARK SIDE (1991), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . STEEL REIGNS & STILL RAINS (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . BLATANT VANITY (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ALIENATION OF AFFECTION (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . LIVING LIFE AT FACE VALUE (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HATRED BLURRED (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . CHOKING ON THE ASHES OF A RUNAWAY (1993), ramblings by I. Koshevoy
  . BORROWED FEELINGS BUYING TIME (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HARD ACT TO SWALLOW (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HALL OF MIRRORS (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ARTIFICIAL BUOYANCY (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy

  . THE POETRY OF PEDRO SENA, poems by Pedro Sena
  . THE FILM REVIEWS, by Pedro Sena
  . THE SHORT STORIES, by Pedro Sena
  . INCANTATIONS, by Pedro Sena

  . POEMS (1970), poems by Franz Zorn

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  YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993, 1994, 1995,
  1996, 1997 & 1998 by Klaus J. Gerken.

  The official version of this magazine is available on Ygdrasil's 
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