Monthly Archives: May 2010

Sheer pleasure of virtual diaries.


It is strange, this desire to write and share poetry with no one and everyone.

Maybe I will stick to news and not pillow talk for a change!

We are having the last Poetician event tomorrow night, in Dubai, at the Shelter, at 8 pm. If by some miracle, some Dubai peeps are reading this and like poems, come to the Shelter at 8 pm, May 31st for some poetry. If you’re some stalker who would like to violently kill me, I wont be there.

In other good news, my second book will be out in two weeks. Yay! Both in the US and the Levant and Dubai. Two publishers have taken on 300 pages of poetry. Brave women. I dont have a name for the book yet, it’s driving me and 5 really close friends mad, since I keep calling at odd hours of night with random suggestions that are horrifyingly crap. I have two days, and after that I am officially a class A moron.

I am not in the best of moods today. A combination of travel, mood swings of my heart strings, sensual entanglements require some thought, and I am a homeless nomad till I finish my film in October. I think I will nest after that. Maybe even buy some glitter.  Maybe even decorate! ye gods!

So, since am in such a great mood, I picked a poem for you called “Cemetery”, about  love and loss in Dubai.

I took a walk
fog slithered between grains of sand
lurked under the foliage
they imported, probably from some catalogue
paid for by salt free water
and everywhere I marked little tombstones
of us, in all places you kissed me
you grabbed blindly for my hand, a sincere
move, a surprise in our expectant afternoon
the first morn we drove away
we suddenly saw each other, saw
really saw
you didn’t just look at me anymore, and here
you touched me, felt my waist
my taste
we parked to drink juice, an excuse for our hands
to keep busy away from the desire to
hold you
and here
I stroked your hair, saying soft
you smiled in silence but for your eyes closed, signals
sent in reverence
to fingertips
and there, you laughed, the glint of teeth
faded now, lights high of these skyscrapers
shrouded in hazy language and this fog that won’t lift
from our departure, heavy
the way
you never managed to say
good bye to me
your absence a trail of smoke
I took, on a leash, for a walk. I took a chance
to try and hear nothing but the music in
my mind that won’t
remind me
of you, but those buildings, glazed
over, the lights of glitter at the top
mock me, becoming the distant shine of your smile
in a big vacant hole where my
ribs might have been
chest dented, heart cavity
nature is sensitive to our demons.
Suspended between grassy
lawn and the humidity
plaguing the trees, I met the biggest
spider I ever saw in this desert, hung
in mid sentence, as we hung in the rift of desperate
messages we never
sent to another in language understood
to end this
to end like the incomplete
lovemaking you left as bits
of road kill on Dubai streets where
once you kissed me
a carcass bloody, intestines spilled, lungs fractured, brain
matter leaking
weeping into the soil
wretched limbs mangled
skin you loved now cracked open, dusty.
And I stopped to stare at this spider
to say,
congratulations little guy
on your flight
on your escape
on your ability to
make a home out of thin air
and I walked on
without a hearth to call my own, without the universe of your
chest to shroud me
nothing save
little tombstones of your
cruel words as elegies serving
as guide lights along
the grave-marked




There are moments spent in wonder at the faces that intermingle in my previous lives of you. The colors swirl, hair an anchor in this image I carry around like an altar. The pillows whisper your thoughts to me, and a fortress of arms relinquishes my need for an army internal. Your lips are a couch, they gather in all the sadness, and let forth moments alone to envision strength returning. Your lips are  a distraction from any conversation I could muster.

There are moments spent in magic at the voices reading inner poetry to me, left behind by your grace, the way you saunter. The colors swirl, rainbows in your glances at me tumble into a whiteness pure, that blinds. The pillows tell me stories of ancient love stories we have inherited. Your lips are a harbour for wrecked ships to crawl to. Your lips are the ending of all my attempts at languages. Your lips are off limits, away from yearning, a smile to render me powerless, a weapon of choice in this hereafter.

A poem.


Dubai, 12/11/09

Kissing you is


deep sea


How are they named? Those long drops with no equipment,

when all your armor is will

your weaponry is lungs

resilient, when you bank only on the hope that legs glide

way out to open water wind sun streaming

to oxygen needed

to life outside, persistent,

to inhaling, to exhaling, to dreaming.

Kissing you is

a deep sea dive, a

pulse, a throbbing


a pilgrimage to quell needing

hips thrashing, protesting this space, not  immediate enough  to destination

ocean floor, salt of you to flavor

this heat in morsels

the beating waves slap against our teeth,


kissing you is dizzy heaving

is rampant is whirling is a dervish of intangible coded

letters that have lost all


kissing you is a deep sea dive

looking for bounty, looking for bones of ancestry, looking

for refuge for seclusion for purity

kissing you makes me a heathen

makes me speak in tongues

of foam

frothing over with desire, squeezing shut the dam

you bombed to splinters all the



kissing you is a deep sea dive, inflicted by a world

condensing to become a fragment as small

as this wet sound we make

lips mesh


Kissing you is a deep sea dive,

and what do they call them? The heavy falls built solely on hope,

the hope enables flying towards the light before

bodies disintegrate,


the body, kissing you, reveals all its secrets.

There is no hope here.

Kissing you is a deep sea dive, and I am a woman deluged,

a woman capsized, wanting

nothing but to offer you a treasure trunk, a trove of


a woman  intent on the sole miracle

of breathing.

There is no hope here.

Rust devours these limbs,

metal sinks into sand,

and kissing you is a deep sea dive I am unprepared for,

a hunt I have no chance of succeeding.

I am a shipwreck of myself,



Jamal- welcome aboard!


I was so very happy to hear the poetry of Jamal Iqbal at our reading in DXB last month. He had emailed me randomly to say, HEY GIMME SOME OF THAT POETRY ACTION! and then I found myself at a play the following week where he was acting, and the rest is sorcery and Poetician history.
Here is one of his poems. I’m excited to go see his work at the Slidefest this week in DXB and to hear the new words at our next Poeticians, coming up May 25th, our last reading before the sun of summertime Dubai scares me away for weeks and weeks. To put it politely.
It is not my favorite poem of the ones he read, I will have to go back and cajole him to share with us the other!


I refuse.
I Reject. I Decline. I summarily dismiss.

I will not be told what I must do. Where I must live. Who I must love. Where I must sneeze.
How I must breathe. Who I must teach and what I must follow.
When I must grieve and what I should swallow.
Where I must look. What I must cook. What I should say. When I must sleep. Why I must walk.
Why I shouldn’t fly.

I refuse.
I Rebuff. I Repudiate. I Snub.

I shall not deliberate with the deliberately smug. I will not be emasculated of my emancipatory hub.
I will not be found wanting of gut. I will ram my head till I draw blood. Pragmatic I am not. I live on my own cloud in my own personal space of my own free will.
It is what I will not lose. Because it is ONLY what I own.
It is what makes me alive. It is my life.

I walk free.
I refuse.
I clamp down. I lock tight. I shut up.

For those who walk free.
Jamal h Iqbal. 12 April, 2010.

Back for some action.


hello anonymous possibly imaginary readers. Its been a while. I was in Italy, running around trying out all the food i could humanly devour in ten days. I wont turn this into a travel blog and bore you with exquisite details of green hills, wine country valleys, flowers and hidden churches. Nor will we discuss the grandeur that is rome, i believe many poets and writers have done that justice once too many. I will however say that you haven’t really lived until you take a midnight motorbike ride through Rome on a breezy flare-lit gorgeous spring night. every building is a song, a photo to hold in your inner world of wishes and wants.
we worked on our scripts. I was in italy for a film workshop and met 10 other Arab writers and directors and it was marvelous. similar dreams. communal desires. entwined pasts. unspoken understanding and a great sense of humor. I learnt so much and tried to give back as much as I could. Today marks the starting of a new draft on the script, moving towards an expensive filmic visual record of my words so far.
The second poetry book, as yet untitled, will be hitting the shelves of an amazon near you in about three weeks. Unless of course I fail miserably as finding a name, at which point I will just curl up in my room and wither away in shame. How can i write 300 pages of poetry and not be able to string together 5 words for a bloody title?
Met a communal leftist film collective in Rome who want to support my 2010 documentary on the PLO. Yay. I think some dreams have a chance of being realized. I just have to maintain sanity till they do.
All in all, imaginary reader, it has been an amazing month. I shall see fruits of all this labour at the end of 2010 and then decide if route of “go housewife” suits me better. Cross your fingers the book/film world takes me in, gently.

and now of course, a poem. generally, you should just skip the rambling in the beginning and go to the poem. particularly since nothing sensational will ever be discussed here, and i cant punctuate and my capitalization sucks to be eloquent about it.
ok, i digress. a poem. a poem. hmm, my sheikhdom for a poem.

small one by my lovely Adrienne Rich:

Try sitting at a typewriter
one calm summer evening
at a table by a window
in the country, try pretending
your time does not exist
that you are simply you
that the imagination simply strays
like a great moth, unintentional
try telling yourself
you are not accountable
to the life of your tribe
the breath of your planet.

and another….the main course as it were, I have been away for a long time.

With My Boys In Iraq: There Are These Nights


And there are these nights, when
We question, when it is
no need for questions,
Not a paradox, just
That we know
This war we came to,
this war in Iraq,
Was planned, not
Decided upon, not based
On any good reason, but the
plan from years earlier, a
Death instinct of a few
Frustrated men, who wanted their
Moment of glory, who sat
In Washington, in their 3 button
Suits, then sent out
3 star generals,
sargeants and privates
who barely knew how to write
and sailors who only knew
what little they were told
and marines who thought they
were going in to
some ignorant, third world,
illiterate, tortured and un-
Iraqis- some
camel jockeys, rag
heads, stupid, not God
fearing Muslims, cousins
to Bin Laden, people
who hated us,
But after they killed
A couple
Of these camel jockeys, these
Rag heads, these Mohammadan
Sinners, as their commanders
Called them,
And saw the little girl
her tiny lifeless fingers
Still held that little cotton baby,
The mother, her black
dress ripped, blooded
her body
Covering her
Son, and what must have been the father
Whose head was on the other side
Of his body, his legs
Knew something,
they knew
someting was wrong, when
They saw the old guy, the old
Man, kiss his cross and ask
For God to help him, they
Realized, him and the other one
kneeling down, crying and praying,
who kept asking
For Allah to help them, that
They were not
sinners, but who were they
then the doubt
began, began,
Started creeping
when they saw
the walls of
the tapestries
like they’d seen
in museums, in
after house, and
dishes forks and knives still on the tables,
spread, some burned
across the floors,
the dolls on the floor,
the cat mewing, frightened,
feelings began
to creep in,
Into their
Hearts, maybe
These weren’t
Simply rag heads, maybe
They weren’t
Camel jockeys, shit, they hadn’t even seen
a camel maybe
They weren’t just
ignorant haters, maybe
These were
Just like
Their mothers,
Their baby
Sisters, and
Fathers who’d give up
Their lives for their
Sons and daughters,
Like this old man
Had done,
They looked
At began looking at Bush in a
New way, some started
to look at their commanders,
men they’d believed in,
the doubt made them look
At their commanders
In a new way
And then some of them, their hearts
To ache, wanted to get
outside, in the
open air, to get
Home, to get out
Of here, not to
Pick up any more
Legs, arms, heads, cluster bomb killings,
“Collateral damage” the sargeant said,
But they knew
The difference, these
Were body, human
Parts, these were
Not simply damaged
Goods, not simply
Damage, these were their
Mothers, their
Sisters, their
Fathers in those
Black, plastic, unemotional, Marine
Issue, black
Body bags, realizing, these were
humans, torn up,
Throwing them into
Those holes, throwing
People into
Those holes,

the heat and desert dust
the nights of
out in the cold desert
on top the Hummer, on
top of their
none of it
made sense,
before they
came, it was
very clear, they
knew how to cleanly
kill, how to win,
how they were going
to go in,
fast. the commanders
kept saying, “Shock and Awe,”
“they’ll give up, they’ll run,
clean kill, nobody dies, over in 24 hours,
nobody dies,”
when the sergeant
Said, “Forget about it”
They said,
“Yes, sir” and then
realized, then
looked down, yes sir
they’d say, and then they’d
remember, they’d
forget about it