Saturday, December 31, 2016

End of the year

This is what happens when the year ends:
as the champagne pops we know
we are now plagued by memory.

Let him kiss your soles

Let him kiss the soles of your feet
with a wet lip that trembles to your white, white ankle
this river

Luca, Luca

Over bent-over forks
she turns to me, whispers
it is Luca, Loo-ka,
an Italian pronunciation

My Luca came two weeks early
he is now the age of two wars
at twelve, normal, bilingual
safely loved

I had seen twelve year olds
carrying buckets of water
when the river failed them
when the butterflies grabbed their tongues

hands left at doorsteps
bodies upon bodies
while in me, Luca
grew and stretched

like palm trees of Basra
sing-songs of mornings
where rocked children
slept half-naked in mud

to protect is a verb strong
by its recollection of making
of your body a house, a shelter
of ears, mouths hushing in prayer

a change of silver to dark
as thing fell, early gifts
my eyes adjust quicker to darkness
easier to his breath;
I have called him Luca
because he brings forth
the light

The ceremony of flame

In front of the fire flames, 
lights up: candles, faces, old photographs
cups, last year's old wig, the balloons torn over twice 
things that no longer concern us

the pen questions

What if, no one reads
what I keep in scribbles
this has been on the pens mind

might then writers stop pinning ink
or wasting paper and trees?

Premature birth

He was born premature
but didn't want to acknowledge
darkness comes before light

at the wrong hour he was born
but he knew, it was for the best
to be out in the world

than be blown like an aborted idea
on a mid-winter night

A northern star at hand

Catch a north star in your hand
let it point the way
sparkling, this Christmas
birth of the King, baffelment of others

Damen= Women

Build three houses in a row
take one of them for the purpose of tonight's
bed-time tale

how the whale floats
overhead in the dim room
to make for a song, your vocal cords don't sing

cook enough meals to feed the same people
who are trying to cook for themselves
and failing at things that do not burn

live and fleshy, little hands
tiny fingers that insert themselves
into your palms

without realization, us,
damen, vessels of birth
guards to the doors of bedrooms

hiders of monsters, dealers with details
organizers, feeders, walkers, joggers
watchful eyes, ears, mouths that kiss

without telling, that sow,
appreciation; disregarded, this sense
of transformation, like pillars

damens, holder of earth
able to sleep on an air mattress and feed
on air, yet walk with the pride of nations
between two shoulders

Made vacant

what if we are both now made vacant
of our bones, of what holds us up
like hollowed zucchinis we make
pretending they are full
when the wind blows into them a song

Friday, December 30, 2016

A free man, a free bird

A free man, like a winged bird
knows that there is no need to keep
shaking his feathers to fly

A holiday death

this is the death of the language 

I read Darwish while sipping hot Nescafe 
that bleeds over my notebook, coffee smeared, milk- frothed 

over the counter where she used to sit 
keep a lookout on  who stays, who leaves

it is beyond me; halls decked with last year's holly
what makes these blossoms shrink

like old age before death
an idea, a body, a leave, we all shrink

but no one thinks of the shadows
when the are standing in the sunshine

there is a dimmed light on the window today;
that the bulbs turned lighter, there are things

we bought together, old books, T-shirts, candles
flammables among your death and the cry of birth

this Christmas, you take it forward
while I sit in the car listening to the downpour 

a belief of the death of people and their birth
the death of the language in me, 

the death of love, an end, and its seemingly impossible rebirth

Monday, December 26, 2016

love and light

Quicker than thinking
these fingers
write to you, honey-bird
messenger of love and light

Half grieved

Honor your grief
let it free the energy that is within you

he says, touching the back of my neck
for a minute I think it possible

to lift my arms into space and call
never imagining that someone else is capable

of making me feel like the imagined weight
I have put on has lifted off

like a little bird took flight
this is me, or is it my reflection, that has half grieved

a human so alive
but so intensely engulfed with the idea

of dead birds in the snow
why did I imagine floating on the edge of the river

a picture of your face, carried you
like a cross or a saint of lost causes, cast-off

to where the bamboo meets the sky
where the rivers lick the edge of the mountains?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Not lit with stars nor fire
not held to, nor let go like the end of a comma
this is a match-made, swiped and wiped

Version of the same orchestral tune

Three violins play to listeners and one
plays to me, a version of the same tune
I am constantly chasing

where the dusk meets the tree
find the orchestra of a night's travel
adjusting the bows set for play

an owl hoot, three ravens in sight
treetops drenched with water
the wind, their calamity

this is what happens to those
who love too much
 talk too little

I have heard it, a lamentation
the size of a pea
echoing into the high trees

this is what has touched me
today the breaking voice of a child
sound has its ways

repeat, this,
I know the river will go dry despite the rain
no one can drain the ocean

but one can repeat a song
a million times
into hearing

orphan girls today

Three girls fit on my lap
one joyous, one small, one smiles a lot
three others on my back
the remaining have nestled their way under my skin

Sown by a winter sun

This is your shadow, do not lose it
you instructed me to keep close, my otherness
the same way you lost your grief
dared to smile for the black rye
once yellowed over, twice sown by a winter sun

Let us sleep, it is better for us

Another house tumbles to dust
you tell me and I can no longer bear to see
dust to dust, remains or rust

let us sleep it is better for us

the insides of a building turned outside
guts spilled, children in rags I can no longer
bear witness to this whiteness

let us sleep it is better for us

the tree you used to pass every day
has burned to the ground, to disrupt
the smoke from all the machines; those that eat the living

let us sleep it is better for us

how many times have you wished for sleep
when you couldn't maintain
a human as a thought

let us sleep it is better for us

this is how you stitch a wound back together
with minimal scars, pull skin over skin
keep careful watch of your thread before they are cut
blood on blood, water bears witness to what we could not
find the nearest exit to the light but for the time being
relax, leave the images and the imagery

let us sleep it is better for us

Long, this absence

Long is, this absence
like the space between the galaxies and this earth
forsaken and fatigued by continued turning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Today's rain is another story

A little rain closes the city down,
from the balcony I watch the drowned;
the striped ginger cat, feeding of the trash
twitching and rain sliding off my window

this city is not ready for love, the way its streets
flood with water, waste or wrongly placed words
wrapped around women's ankles
misplaced in men's pockets

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The owl, the daylight

The owl is asked
why its eyes are shut, every morning
it is blindness, this daylight.

The confused and the rained

This is how the confused deals with rain
a swivel in the car tire
an undecided lane parked with this excess of water
but this is the state of rain, unexpected, in this winter

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A candle

I blow three candles for the years
I have stopped counting on the surface of cake

one for myself
one for you
one for what remains outside of us.

What we share/d

I thought of you today, 
how we split bread in two and thanked the heavens 
for the assistance of flour and salt
how our palms became glasses, gathering rain

how over this time we left
all that belonged to us both, kept, let go of

our share, what we share/d/keep sharing;  

-a birthday, mid-December, 
like countdowns of Christmases 
-a midnight dance that doesn't mark a new year
yet makes a promising start 
-a conversation where I ask about the woman in your photo 
come to know her later, because of the color in her eyes
-a theft of a balloon
when I smile, shiver at the fact that I stole 
your jacket too, covered with it a July's late night ride 
-a mother's love to turn over absences; a father gone too soon 
and a tree that still bleeds leaves in his steps
- a swing, where you tell me about the images you've kept
under the bed, of half- covered breasts, massages, and a giggle still 
warm and foamy in my ear 
- a ride on a lion made of stone
stiff and rigid,  it only moves when we command it 
- a talk about how he, a replacement of your father 
hides you away from the eyes, beats you after kissing 
your mother
- a song about a woman whose lover 
left her in the desert, blabbering 
- a text message with a lot of hearts on my birthday
returned to you, kissed, on the mole that covers your cheeks 

- a kiss, my first, probably yours too 
young to remember, we had shared this
before the music, the cake, the songs;
 in my memory, a rush and a red car dented where we leaned our backs. 

Minor changes

From a minor key into a major I play
for the child, who at three, knows me before my name
before my face, loves the candy-wrappers in my pockets
climbs my back like it is another mountain
calls me auntie without making me
compress to the need of this aging in two seconds
the child who will long after I leave, cry, then remember
it all changes when you are no longer her age.

on the platform, the fog

it is new, this,  unfamiliar
the way I spell backward

how you can stand
by yourself in a train station

on the edge of the platform
waiting, for the next ride out

and it is already eleven at night
the fog has made its decent, following you down the stairs

the lovers huddle, flowers aside
you, in a puffed over jacket

wait for the train on our tracks
while others keep moving on the opposite side

on the station, not the metro
wind-blown, fog-covered,
you, look up, look down
then keep looking around.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Why are the women strung up and the men male?

asked the same hand that found its way
into her skirt, onto her skin
it is all the same, skin is skin no matter where you smooth

why are the woman strung up
replied the hand that fed, clothed, bathed others
while forgetting its own twin

why are the men male
what makes this my maleness and yours separate
by power invested in the wrong bodies, at the wrong time
this is the secret to what you have been asking

just learn where to put your hands
you will know then, how things come about, here.

Like only another man could

How many times have we averted around the question
that leaves itself mid-air, almost every time the chance
for it arises, how many have you lifted off your bare chest
like flies, not swatted, not given enough time to rest

empty sheets, tired eyes, ruffled hearts down hearsay
scarves worn out, I know I can only reach for this question
or that like only another man could, the same man
who left his soles in the foreground of the photographs

I have seen on your nightstand, after asking a rebound
question revolving, like any other man could,
swing, dance around lazily
these things I leave and want more, like only a man
like only another man could.

Leap frog

This is no leap year
but the months seem to have leaped
without comprehension

this is the state of wellness

that you do not note down
what goes up in the air without
returning, like fumes, like balloons

like dust to autumn

this is no leap year but the little
leap frog sits on its little lily-pad
glaring at the lucid waters before it takes
a leap upward, falls down into the pond
its only  consolation is a blink
mine is the sunshine and the varying months.

The bells ringing

They have rung,
the crystal bells, ding
a dong, a ding, a dong
this is a country of fools
we ring the bells in mourning and in weddings
but only few can hear the difference

Friday, December 2, 2016

You walk under a cloud

We don't always understand what moves above our heads
who gives clouds direction or lining made strictly of silver
not gold- Is it cheaper metal?

you can walk under a cloud without thinking of it
why now that you are surrounded in shining images of your own
steps is it that you think of the skies?

the dead hold no envy, you know it is only reserved for the living

read the rest of the poem here