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Nathalie Handal’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, such as POETRYWALES, PLOUGHSHARES, POETRY NEW ZEALAND, STAND MAGAZINE, CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW, PERIHELION, and THE LITERARY REVIEW. Her work has been translated into more than fifteen languages, she has been featured on NPR, KPFK, and PBS Radio and she teaches in the U.S. and abroad. Handal has been involved either as a writer, director or producer in over twenty film and theatrical productions worldwide, and most recently she has worked with New York Theater Workshop and the Public Theater. Handal is the author of numerous books, most recently, THE LIVES OF RAIN (short listed for The Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize/The Pitt Poetry Series), and co-editor of LANGUAGE FOR A NEW CENTURY: CONTEMPORARY POETRY FROM THE MIDDLE EAST, ASIA & BEYOND (W.W. Norton, 2008). She was an honored finalist for the 2009 A Room of Her Own’s Freedom Award, and her latest poetry book, LOVE AND STRANGE HORSES (University of Pittsburgh Press) is forthcoming.
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The Fall Edition of Urhalpool will be published in the next few days.

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- by Nathalie Handal


We live desiring, he tells me,

and every step becomes a musical note.

A lantern. A canyon. A canto.

An ache in the back of our hand.

A touch with a thousand names

and one we need most—

agua sensual.

But desire is only desire

when it finds its way

in the country inside two lovers—

I look at him,

and we move deep into what

we will do to each other.


 To Panagiota

                             Misfortune does not lessen however much you speak of it.

                             But there are pains that will not stay quiet in the heart.

                                                                               —Cavafy, A Love


I hear your voice every evening,

a question, then another.

We have been fools.

Have let each other go.

Have gone to hidden ruins.

Violet yellows.

Have kept photos of where

the Trojans once stood,

where the horses of Achilles

once passed through,

to remember what

we both like.

Held on to the word Riza,

and never listened

to the music loud enough.

Now, we can’t return to

our stare looming in a bluesy field,

but I still imagine telling you

about my dream:

eating chocolate, vanilla, strawberry

and lemon sorbet with you.

I will sail until underneath

the tremble of the sea

(something to do with love)

there is salt water on your tongue.