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Poetry

The Red Triangle Café

By Mourad Kadiri
Translated from Arabic by Kristin Hickman

How I adore
the café  door
there’s a newspaper
and a seat
and, you know,
I mean, that means I know
all the latest news.

In and out
flapping about
Waiter!
one Lipton tea
and my number . . . I dialed it on my phone
ring ring . . . ring ring
I . . . am not there.

At the café door
a man stands . . . baking in the sun
clearly, he’s waiting for someone
the poor guy is annoyed
but I know he’s married
and boy, would I like to see the lout
if his wife
ever found him out.

Perhaps
in a skirt . . . she would look better
that one that just passed by
wearing a djellaba.

Maybe
he was trying to look like a man or something
ordered some water and a coffee, black
pulled a cigarette from a pack
she, ordered a café au lait
but
when the secret of her chest began to effuse
he ordered an apple juice
she ordered a banana juice
because the water
—and there was water—
below him . . . was profuse.

I, however, am fully uninterested
an exception, perhaps, to things prohibited
to what
is written on the sign,
a sign
that my cigarettes decline,
it reads: smoking strictly prohibited
yellow tobacco . . . black tobacco . . . in-between tobacco
no one gives a shit
as for me, give me a hit
words between two
at the cafe Triangle Rouge.

That first guy
if his poems were ever reviewed
if his photo appeared in the news
you’d see him float through the door
a bride whirling on a tayfour
so ecstatic
you’d think he wrote the Qur’an . . .

That second one, with that hairdo of his
every two minutes . . . and he flips,
on the stage
he appears to be sage
and he does have . . . something to say
in the theater of the absurd
and the proof
a meeting of the two transpired
against a teapot . . . together they conspired
collusion between two
at the cafe Triangle Rouge.

One folded like a switchblade, one open like a book,
the snob, the guy lost in his disguise, the other spitting on his own thighs,
the mustache, the neurotic, the human despite, the zinc, the head like a
tank,
one entering with a thrust
one sitting out like an egg
and me
all just clients . . . at the Triangle Rouge.

English

How I adore
the café  door
there’s a newspaper
and a seat
and, you know,
I mean, that means I know
all the latest news.

In and out
flapping about
Waiter!
one Lipton tea
and my number . . . I dialed it on my phone
ring ring . . . ring ring
I . . . am not there.

At the café door
a man stands . . . baking in the sun
clearly, he’s waiting for someone
the poor guy is annoyed
but I know he’s married
and boy, would I like to see the lout
if his wife
ever found him out.

Perhaps
in a skirt . . . she would look better
that one that just passed by
wearing a djellaba.

Maybe
he was trying to look like a man or something
ordered some water and a coffee, black
pulled a cigarette from a pack
she, ordered a café au lait
but
when the secret of her chest began to effuse
he ordered an apple juice
she ordered a banana juice
because the water
—and there was water—
below him . . . was profuse.

I, however, am fully uninterested
an exception, perhaps, to things prohibited
to what
is written on the sign,
a sign
that my cigarettes decline,
it reads: smoking strictly prohibited
yellow tobacco . . . black tobacco . . . in-between tobacco
no one gives a shit
as for me, give me a hit
words between two
at the cafe Triangle Rouge.

That first guy
if his poems were ever reviewed
if his photo appeared in the news
you’d see him float through the door
a bride whirling on a tayfour
so ecstatic
you’d think he wrote the Qur’an . . .

That second one, with that hairdo of his
every two minutes . . . and he flips,
on the stage
he appears to be sage
and he does have . . . something to say
in the theater of the absurd
and the proof
a meeting of the two transpired
against a teapot . . . together they conspired
collusion between two
at the cafe Triangle Rouge.

One folded like a switchblade, one open like a book,
the snob, the guy lost in his disguise, the other spitting on his own thighs,
the mustache, the neurotic, the human despite, the zinc, the head like a
tank,
one entering with a thrust
one sitting out like an egg
and me
all just clients . . . at the Triangle Rouge.

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