Monthly Archives: March 2011

Eulogy.

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The last few words, for the last time, burying the final letters of a dead love poem.

Lexicon
Dubai, 26/03/2011

It only hurts in the mornings, before language.

It has taken days to commit this poem to breath.
The words far flung
insistent
nailed themselves to my reclined body,
to my limbs as wide as the city between us, and were adamantly born.
There is a continent between us.
Entire civilizations between us.
The soft words you didn’t mutter between us,
my feet trudging hallways interior,
to move away, a railing between us,
keeps me from stumbling,
defeat imprinted on every still image of our flight.

The taxi speeds through lights,
through the darkness of the last time I saw your eyes.
It is dawn outside and I have crawled the night,
parched animal in heat,
anxious for an ocean of hands not your own.

A radio prayer is wistful,
a voice supplicant to a god we never loved between us.
The driver does not make sense of this,
but I ask him to let the words pulsate loud,
fill the empty air, fill the damn hole in my chest, fill the failure you bequeathed us.
Me, a woman clothed in
willful nakedness, a taxi driver silent, and garish it is, this despair.

I, a heathen. You,
the man who does not love me.

A prayer in a city with little faith.

The driver and I, mute. Perhaps he thought, let God mend her. Perhaps, I thought so too.

The Arabic words were tongues of peace, as quiet as the hum of your absence inside me, present.

I have been glancing at brown men,
hair of yours, eyes of yours, solid muscles of yours,
those k’s and t’s and quick raspy words tumbled out like quakes you perpetually assaulted a welcoming body I gave.
Tee
kaa
heh
di
the rolling fruits of trees I fathom not,
I listen
I listen to the pitches of voices repeating you,
the lilt and flow of all that we needed to translate,
badly, between us.

Language barred to me,
frozen in words- your fingers-,
the pauses- your breath in sleep-,
the laughter- your thrusting body-,
the cries- our kisses that ripen-,
the questions exclamations- punctuation of all that ended-,
a dictionary of mystery
I hunted,
a maze of you, till
there was only bare gravel for toes bleeding, till there was nothing but fog as far as the arms can hold.
The letters of your language- little darts-
poisoned memory,
a book, untold.

The nighttime city understands.
A brown man writes on stone. He longs for other homes, and arms he may have known. He speaks your language, and other beautiful brown eyes that speak my own, explain.

“That which your heart desires and pains for the most, is the most inaccessible”.

I ache in abandoned places.
I am not of stone.

And here we are, writers, together,
a lexicon of English resplendent,
un-ending flourishes in your fancy ink pen,
your curvy turns of phrases clever, signify nothing,
repel those raw
frantic verses I cried an everyday a storm of lines
showered into the illusionary green field I painted of you. That ritual I worshipped.
But you,
you have no faith.

And here we are, writers, separate.
And here we are,
a million words possible, and no way for you to ever understand.
And I,
the thousand ways I did not translate.

It hurts the most in the mornings, before language.

Quiz.

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A flame of gratitude, shot through like a beam of violet glowing light, straight from my center within, that haunted place where poetry resides, aimed straight at the center of your forehead, to envelop you in a small slice of magic, that other world I obsess about.
Or maybe, just a quick hug if you can tell me what you think the next poem is about!

“There are different wells within your heart.

Some fill with each good rain,

Others are far too deep for that.

In one well

You have just a few precious cups of water,

That “love” is literally something of yourself,

It can grow as slow as a diamond

If it is lost.

Your love

Should never be offered to the mouth of a

Stranger,

Only to someone

Who has the valor and daring

To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife

Then weave them into a blanket

To protect you.

There are different wells within us.

Some fill with each good rain,

Others are far, far too deep

For that.”

by Hafiz.

Thoughts from a suspended blandness of spirit.

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I havent been writing much. Anything I wrote was about the lack of desire to write, and hence, should ultimately end in the trash can of word history, or in the pile of notebooks by my bed which are left to history to laugh at, 30 years from now.
Suspended between a year ago and today, living for only tonight, wondering what one makes of the desire to run, and the desire to verbalize fleeing and staying, loving and hating, hiding and revealing, the skin aching and the mind revolting against that drug, the habitual loss and customary healing, the strength born of saying no when you have exhausted the venues to saying yes, the heart that palpitates at your name and the fingers that shut that screen down in anger, the memories of all the tender dawn profiles of your sleep and the ringing of ears at words imprinted of harshness and refusal. The dichotomy of love and hate, surrender and rebellion, this vicious little cycle of love, and here we are, so afraid.

I will leave you with two poems that may or may not have anything to do with the above, but they are lovely. The first is a gift from our dear poetician Frank, and the second is a gift from poetry godesses in the name of Adrienne Rich. I hope you enjoy.

How To Like It

These are the first days of fall. The wind
at evening smells of roads still to be traveled,
while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns
is like an unsettled feeling in the blood,
the desire to get in a car and just keep driving.
A man and a dog descend their front steps.
The dog says, Let’s go downtown and get crazy drunk.
Let’s tip over all the trash cans we can find.
This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change.
But in his sense of the season, the man is struck
by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories
which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid
until it seems he can see remembered faces
caught up among the dark places in the trees.
The dog says, Let’s pick up some girls and just
rip off their clothes. Let’s dig holes everywhere.
Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud
crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie,
he says to himself, a movie about a person
leaving on a journey. He looks down the street
to the hills outside of town and finds the cut
where the road heads north. He thinks of driving
on that road and the dusty smell of the car
heater, which hasn’t been used since last winter.
The dog says, Let’s go down to the diner and sniff
people’s legs. Let’s stuff ourselves on burgers.
In the man’s mind, the road is empty and dark.
Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder,
where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights,
shine like small cautions against the night.
Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake.
The dog says, Let’s go to sleep. Let’s lie down
by the fire and put our tails over our noses.
But the man wants to drive all night, crossing
one state line after another, and never stop
until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror.
Then he’ll pull over and rest awhile before
starting again, and at dusk he’ll crest a hill
and there, filling a valley, will be the lights
of a city entirely new to him.
But the dog says, Let’s just go back inside.
Let’s not do anything tonight. So they
walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps.
How is it possible to want so many things
and still want nothing. The man wants to sleep
and wants to hit his head again and again
against a wall. Why is it all so difficult?
But the dog says, Let’s go make a sandwich.
Let’s make the tallest sandwich anyone’s ever seen.
And that’s what they do and that’s where the man’s
wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator
as if into the place where the answers are kept-
the ones telling why you get up in the morning
and how it is possible to sleep at night,
answers to what comes next and how to like it.

Stephen Dobyns.

and for ms Rich…I have adored this poem for years and years. Maybe it is because I write this from an office that I remember, maybe it is because I will always remember this poem, sent to me by a dear friend, over ten years ago. The power and longevity of language, yet how meaningless are the words we utter to each other sometimes.

From “An Atlas of the Difficult World”.

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains’ enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
hand
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.
Adrienne Rich

Anyone else here feeling stripped, perhaps, of who they are?