Saturday, April 05, 2014

Some day

Some day
when it’s all done
and the white foam pours forth
you’ll be telling me
that song we drew when
the grass was freshly mown
was embroidered into
your mother’s skirt.

I will turn
and absorb your face
like it was the last kite of summer
and together we will drip
like old wounds
at the back of the throat.
There will be nothing that night
but the bees that circled our heads
and a sigh that congealed
with a dream.

(Originally posted on February 25, 2005)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mahmoud Darwish, "The Smell of Cities" محمود درويش, رائحة المدن

“المدن رائحة: عكا رائحة اليود البحري والبهارات. حيفا رائحة الصنوبر والشراشف المجعلكة. موسكو رائحة الفودكا على الثلج. القاهرة رائحة المانجو والزنجبيل. بيروت رائحة الشمس والبحر والدخان والليمون. باريس رائحة الخبز الطازج والأجبان ومشتقات الفتنة. دمشق رائحة الياسمين والفواكة المجففة. تونس رائحة مسك الليل والملح. الرباط رائحة الحناء والبخور والعسل. وكل مدينة لا تُعرفُ من رائحتها لا يُعوَّل على ذكراها. وللمنافي رائحة مشتركة هي رائحة الحنين إلى ما عداها... رائحة تتذكر رائحة أخرى. رائحة متقطعة الأنفاس، عاطفيّة تقودك كخارطة سياحية كثيرة الاستعمال إلى رائحة المكان الأول. الرائحة ذاكرةٌ وغروب شمس. والغروب هنا توبيخ الجمال للغريب.”
 'محمود درويش, 'في حضرة الغياب―



“Cities are scents: Acre is the scent of marine iodine and spices; Haifa, the scent of pine and rumpled sheets; Moscow, the scent of vodka on ice; Cairo, the scent of mango and ginger; Beirut, the scent of sun, sea, smoke, and lemon; Paris, the scent of fresh bread, cheese, and the derivatives of intrigue; Damascus, the scent of jasmine and dried fruits; Tunis, the scent of night musk and salt; and Rabat is the scent of henna, incense, and honey. And every city not known for its scent is not worth mentioning. And lands of exile have a common scent, which is that of longing for elsewhere… A scent remembering another, a scent of intermittent breaths, emotional, leading you like a tourist map that’s been used too often to lead to the scent of the first place. Scent is a memory and a sunset. And sunset, here, is beauty's rebuke to the foreigner."
―Mahmoud Darwish, “In the Presence of Absence” (translated by Ashraf Osman)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

On the Prowl

To Foxy


It's the absence—always the absence—that gets us.
A habit lingering long after, a slip of the tongue,
a look in the direction of what remains...

And the night—always the night—mercilessly
weaving ghosts out of shadows, the cold
confrontation of mind facing sleep.

Your stained bed turned a wailing pad,
where your smell lingers we now muffle our cries.
Your bowls soaking in the kitchen sink,
your leash by the door, your food going stale
in the closet, along with half-chewed bones.
We no longer have to sneak out, but
nor is there a bark now to welcome us back.
The only sound is his sobbing,
like a jackhammer to my gut.

The last time I saw you,
after you drew your last breath,
I buried my face in your neck
to take one more breathful of you.
I think of the first time we saw you,
shivering in a cage,
big brown eyes I melted in,
and the way you drooled over
the backseat all the way home.

But I can't think of where you are now,
can't give substance to your absence,
cannot materialize it.
I turn my head, bite my tongue,
stifle a sob, and start cleaning.
And when the night comes again,
when your absence is back out
on the prowl, I'll be here...


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Naked on the Inside

It’s on nights like this
that the wall of smiles crumbles,
dimple by sparkling squint,
with a only a faint sigh to be heard
as it crashes.
How is it that things so labored
falter so quietly?

As the roads spread ahead of us,
vast and dim,
lit half-heartedly and glistening
with the sheen of a promised storm,
the night, worn out of shopping
late at resoundingly vacant stores,
hung lifeless and limp,
an expanse of exhaustion,
over our worn out being.

Nothing was left for us,
not the effort of pretense,
not the thrill of acquisition,
not even the recurrent name of a friend.
There we were, naked on the inside,
bereft of even the comfort of joy.
We had only for company,
on that unforgiving night,
the loneliness of each other.

(Originally posted on June 10, 2007)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Reasons for Living—or Not

It often begins with the low light of early spring:
the distant sounds of life on a chilly Sunday;
your reflection in a screen, bigger than it needs to be;
a dog nearing the end of her life, turning away
from food like only a dying animal can.
                                                            The last
to surrender is often the sense of the beginning,
that what might have been can still be. Instead
is a rigid sense of awakening, that this is all there is
and will be: a cold counting of assets, tabulating life,
seeing it on the losing end.
                                        And in the silence
connecting all—bathing you with your own thoughts
and the smelly leftovers of yesterday’s dream—
nothing much can be said or done:
not the anger, the last remnant of life;
not sweet abandon—only a persistence
as stubborn and meaningless as everything,
a refusal of the game and all it wills.
                                                      And yet
you remain unable to turn away—
not from longing, but from paralysis:
the closing of the eyes is often
harder than it appears to be.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"In Spring (2)" by Joe Bolton

You do what you can
to be modern in a country
of fields stitched together
with barbed wire the hunters cut through
before it has a chance

to rust, fields
mapped off by gravel roads
that refuse to swerve,
that make paths for the sun to follow each day.
You do what you can.

But you are late
or early for stylishness,
and all the cities and affluence you will know
are delicate tendrils the white motion
of your slender hands
can raise from the thawed earth.
(By Joe Bolton from"Uncollected Poems" in The Last Nostalgia)

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)

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

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)

Myself to Blame


I only have myself to blame
for you, my victory, my downfall,
my need, my hunger, my flame...

I only have myself to blame,
hoping endlessly, as my mother
waits for my dad, against hope
for you to change,
for you to become
what I want, to be
somebody else...

I only have myself to blame
for this, the burn that is my life,
this lie that I insist on telling,
waiting, against the odds,
for me to become
someone I want...

(originally posted on May 14, 2013)

I’ll Be (Nothing)

I’ll be nothing, that’s what I’ll be.
I’ll be the limbs breaking on the ice,
I’ll be desire melting onto itself,
I’ll be the longing that possesses me
That I’ll never possess.

I’ll be nothing, that’s what I’ll be.
I’ll be the vicious hope that rides me to death,
I’ll be just another breath, another step
To nowhere...

(originally posted on December 06, 2004)