The log flared on the grate
as I poked its side, poor demon

left to its own devices, hissed
blue lipped, then shriveled

into itself like a stunned
worm, before turning to ashes;

I stirred in my chair, half conscious
of darkness lapping –

even you, my lambent fawn, soft
hammered in copper,

leapt back into the shadows
of the holy mountain

(whose rock makes us fierce)
with nothing to confess

when I rose without ceremony
and called it a night.

by Gabriel Levin

‘Vigil’ is copyright © Gabriel Levin, 2008. It is reprinted from The Maltese Dreambook (2008) by permission of Anvil Press.

Notes from Anvil Press:

With Jerusalem as its epicentre, The Maltese Dreambook extends Gabriel Levin‘s quarter-century-long ramble through the Levant, his adopted homeland. On a Greek island, in the desert wastes of southern Jordan, and in Malta, whose Stone Age temples serve as a backdrop to the title poem, this collection abounds in unforeseen encounters that blur the borders between the phantasmal and the real, the modern and the archaic, the rational and the imaginary.

Gabriel Levin was born in France, grew up in the United States, and has been living in Jerusalem since 1972. He has published two collections of poetry, Sleepers of Beulah (1992) and Ostraca (1999), and several translations from the Hebrew, French, and Arabic, including a selection of Yehuda Halevi’s poetry, Poems from the Diwan (Anvil, 2002). He is one of the founding editors of Ibis Editions, a small press established in Jerusalem in 1997 and dedicated to the publication, in English, of literature from the Levant. His new collection To These Dark Steps will be published by Anvil this month. You can find out more about Levin’s books on Anvil’s site, and read a review of The Maltese Dreambook here.

Anvil Press, founded in 1968, is based in Greenwich, south-east London, in a building off Royal Hill that has been used at various points in its 150-year history as a dance-hall and a printing works. Anvil grew out of a poetry magazine which Peter Jay ran as a student in Oxford and retains its small company ethos. Visit Anvil’s website here, where you can sign up to their mailing list to find out about new publications and events.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.