Wednesday, July 15, 2015

No Escape

A wise mad man once said,
Imagine that you had to do it again,
the same all over again...
But he couldn't, not without
losing it all...
If I were to do it all again,
would I have the courage not to?
Or would I let your dimples fool me
—once more—
with the promise of another end?

But I am no wise man,
I am no brave man,
I am chapped and cracking
like the dashboard of an old car
that has long lost its charm
and is fast running out of utility...

Tomorrow, before I throw it all away
in a fit of forgiveness, I shall take
one more look at the sunshine falling
like a smirk on the pebbled floor,
at the books, stacked and oblivious
to having never been read, to the
traces of life pinned against the walls...
I shall look at all this one more time,
and let regret soak me like a wick,
and like the coward that I am,
I shall only go to sleep
and wake up
to dream it all again...

(Originally posted on February 28, 2012)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

No Return, No Exchange

Here's my life; take it,
see what you can make of it.
Like a gum that's been chewed
for far too long, it's lost its flavor.
I'm done with it; and I'm afraid
I've made quite the mess of it...
There, see if you can do better.
And let me know; I'm curious.
But I won't hold my breath;
I don't care enough to.

I've waited on sidewalks
where busses don't pass,
and the riders have all fallen asleep.
I've lingered in the fog of old songs
and teenage dreams, and woken up
to find me lurking around
a playground, overgrown
into the swing-set I forgot me in.
This adulthood, I fear, is not for me;
but then again, neither was childhood.
I'm not angry to have come to this world,
but I don't think I'll miss it much.
And to be honest, I don't think
it'll miss me much either...

(Originally posted on February 10, 2012)

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

In Their Shape

To Teta, once again...

We die, they say
But we never die, they say
We carry our dead in our hearts,
They live in us, they say

They say so much, they say so little…

She was here, they say
I remember her, they say
It was a long time ago, they say
It was like yesterday...

I hear so much, I say so little…

She’s somewhere, they say
Looking over you, they say
I look over my shoulder,
Still searching…

One day she’s at the beach
Collecting shells, they say
And years later I’m back here
Collecting my breath…

I won’t go back, I say
I’m done, I say
I moved on…

But moving on, a part of me snags
Dragging behind like a dead limb.
Is it me? I say
Is it her? I say

They say nothing; they only nod.
I guess that’s how we carry our dead, I say:
Our heart, dragging behind, looking like them…

(Originally posted on January 3, 2015)

Monday, May 04, 2015

تُنْسى , كأنك لم تكن / Forgotten As If You Never Were

تُنْسى , كأنك لم تكن
تُنسى، كأنَّكَ لم تَكُنْ
تُنْسَى كمصرع طائرٍ
ككنيسةٍ مهجورةٍ تُنْسَى،
كحبّ عابرٍ
وكوردةٍ في الليل .... تُنْسَى
أَنا للطريق...هناك من سَبَقَتْ خُطَاهُ خُطَايَ
مَنْ أَمْلَى رُؤاهُ على رُؤَايَ. هُنَاكَ مَنْ
نَثَرَ الكلام على سجيَّتِه ليدخل في الحكايةِ
أَو يضيءَ لمن سيأتي بعدَهُ
أَثراً غنائياً...وحدسا
تُنْسَى, كأنك لم تكن
شخصاً, ولا نصّاً... وتُنْسَى
أَمشي على هَدْيِ البصيرة، رُبّما
أُعطي الحكايةَ سيرةً شخصيَّةً. فالمفرداتُ
تسُوسُني وأسُوسُها. أنا شكلها
وهي التجلِّي الحُرُّ. لكنْ قيل ما سأقول.
يسبقني غدٌ ماضٍ. أَنا مَلِكُ الصدى.
لا عَرْشَ لي إلاَّ الهوامش. و الطريقُ
هو الطريقةُ. رُبَّما نَسِيَ الأوائلُ وَصْفَ
شيء ما، أُحرِّكُ فيه ذاكرةً وحسّا
تُنسَى، كأنِّكَ لم تكن
خبراً، ولا أَثراً... وتُنْسى
أَنا للطريق... هناك مَنْ تمشي خُطَاهُ
على خُطَايَ, وَمَنْ سيتبعني إلى رؤيايَ.
مَنْ سيقول شعراً في مديح حدائقِ المنفى،
أمامَ البيت، حراً من عبادَةِ أمسِ،
حراً من كناياتي ومن لغتي, فأشهد
أَنني حيُّ
حين أُنْسَى!

Forgotten As If You Never Were 

Forgotten, as if you never were.
Like a bird’s violent death
like an abandoned church you’ll be forgotten,
like a passing love
and a rose in the night . . . forgotten

I am for the road . . . There are those whose footsteps preceded mine
those whose vision dictated mine. There are those
who scattered speech on their accord to enter the story
or to illuminate to others who will follow them
a lyrical trace . . . and a speculation

Forgotten, as if you never were
a person, or a text . . . forgotten

I walk guided by insight, I might
give the story a biographical narrative. Vocabulary
governs me and I govern it. I am its shape
and it is the free transfiguration. But what I’d say has already been said.
A passing tomorrow precedes me. I am the king of echo.
My only throne is the margin. And the road
is the way. Perhaps the forefathers forgot to describe
something, I might nudge in it a memory and a sense

Forgotten, as if you never were
news, or a trace . . . forgotten

I am for the road . . . There are those whose footsteps
walk upon mine, those who will follow me to my vision.
Those who will recite eulogies to the gardens of exile,
in front of the house, free of worshipping yesterday,
free of my metonymy and my language, and only then 
will I testify that I’m alive
and free
when I’m forgotten!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Ibid. (The Ubaid Anagram)

You called,
your voice dripping with the restraint of life on leash.
Above the cacophony I could hear
your silence—hesitant, mournful and loud.
It told me of carpeted hallways,
of grey walls and skies.
It told me of gilded coffins
and mirages on sizzling asphalt.

I dreamt of you last night,
you were leaving a trail of loneliness on the floor,
you still remembered who you were.

(Originally posted on May 27, 2006)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Death Will Come" by Cesare Pavese

Death will come and will have your eyes—
this death that accompanies us
from morning till evening, unsleeping,
deaf, like an old remorse
or an absurd vice. Your eyes
will be a useless word,
a suppressed cry, a silence.
That’s what you see each morning
when alone with yourself you lean
toward the mirror. O precious hope,
that day we too will know
that you are life and you are nothingness. 
Death has a look for everyone.
Death will come and will have your eyes.
It will be like renouncing a vice,
like seeing a dead face reappear in the mirror,
like listening to a lip that’s shut.
We’ll go down into the maelstrom mute.

Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), a poet, novelist and critic, was a major Italian author of the 20th Century. "Death Will Come and Will Have Your Eyes" was among the poems found in his desk after his suicide. Considering the circumstances, it's strikingly haunting.

(Translated by Geoffrey Brock; reposted from Poem of the Week. You can find the original Italian text, "Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi," here.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Where I come from
trees don't sleep;
they don't burn
with all the ache of a sunset.

Where I come from
autumns are a grey shade of green;
they smell of mud
and the earth spilling its secrets.

Where I come from
the ground doesn't hide
in a blank shroud of silence;
it only glistens, leathery and dark,
like the first lines of a fairytale.

Where I come from
spring is dull,
only a brighter shade
of the everyday.

It doesn't breach the sky
with every shade of pink
and break the frost
with a vengeful thirst.

It simply stuffs the air
with the smell of orange blossom,
of youth, and the mocking promise
of a breeze…

(Originally posted on November 12, 2005)

Friday, April 10, 2015

'The Dead Gods'

"It is no longer clear where we're going.
There is no longer light along the road...
It seems there's nothing left to do but sing,
But sing what? Whatever little we had
In us of music has gone out of us,
Lost on some dark road outside some city.

If they come back now, it's only to die
Again, far less beautifully than we'd care
To imagine to remember. Now shelves
Heavy with all we loved fall down, the sky
Is full of static, dusk soars, and the air
Is lovely with us who have just ourselves."

-Joe Bolton

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Hold Still

Hold still, the night is calling
Your name under its breath.
Don't turn, it's not there.
Maybe it never was...
In the mirror, you look like yesterday
Only older, only more silent,
And the night is just as young.
Abandon your words, they never suited you.
Abandon all hope...
The world dims and you fade,
And names lose their sounds;
Nothing remains of the day.
A face stares you in the mirror,
Both gaunt and bloated,
Eyes hollow as the stillness,
And just as dark.
The years are gone.
Behind you look, almost recognizing, almost believing,
But it's all so far away.
And you're still too scared to look
The other way.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Early Anniversary

To Wojtek

I love you like the simplicity of the air
Like the banality of the life we share
I love you like the pillows on the couch
Like your head resting on my lap
Like hot chocolate after a fight
Or a warm bath right when it was all
About to go down the drain…
I love you like five fifteen years of my life
Like our cat asleep atop the laundry basket
I love you like the wanderlust that possesses you
And like the many lives in many lands
We want to lead…
I love you like the dream I dare to dream again
Like the fear I dare to cherish again
And the certainty I feel
When I’m not too busy doubting our love…

(Originally posted on September 05, 2004)