Tag Archives: Dubai

riding the wave of necessary poetry…

Standard

Another of my favorite activist poets is Asha Bandele. The following poem is one of two I will post here. I love her work.
I don’t really feel like writing much today. Everything is mundane. Oats and raisins and juice. Trying not to smoke. Coffee, not enough, but need to be careful. The sea is the same gorgeous as ever. Mundane. My clothes need to be picked up off the couch. I have phone calls to make and procrastinate. I grow one year older tomorrow, but I’ll be pretty much the same as I am today. Mundane.
This poem however, is not.

in response 2 a brother’s question about what he should do when his best friend beats up his woman
Asha Bandele

snatch him up by the back of his neck run him into his own fist
twice
tell him who the real enemy is show him
make him swallow his own teeth do not help when they scratch the inside
of his throat tell him it was his fault u did this
make his eyes swell up and & pus so he looks like a freak make him go to
work lie that & have to come up with excuses to his co-workers & friends
tell him the witeman made u do it tell him you’re sorry tell him u
love him tell him u didn’t mean to then kick his ass again
Question him on why he’s such a coward
Interrogate his ass
Make him beg for forgiveness Watch him crawl
Put The Word Out In The Streets……
THERE’S AN ENEMY IN OUR PRESENCE THERE’S AN
ENEMY IN OUR PRESENCE IT DOES NOT THINK IT ONLY
ATTACKS IT MAKES WEAK-ASS EXCUSES IT TAKES NO
RESPONSIBILITY IT PICKS ON PEOPLE SMALLER THAN
ITSELF IT READS SHARAZAD ALI
IT WORSHIPS MILES DAVIS IT DESTROYS BLKLIFE
IT LIES IT LIES

and if he finally understands
then go to him
find out where it started
search for burns beneath his flesh
peel back his pain
be a brother a real good brother
whisper haki madhubuti sonia sanchez in his ear
sing sweet honey songs
let him cry
let him sleep in your arms
stand alone if u have to
this is the right thing to do
let the others babble hate while u break centuries of vicious cycles
face the contradictions the bellies sliced open & jaws wired shit
the assholes torn &
the bloodied vaginas
this is what it looks like do not turn away now
babies beat out of wombs spines curved uneven legs that no longer walk
dead eyes that cannot see tomorrow liver imprinted with callused feet–
face the contradiction that looks like u smell like u
that tastes like u
& push out the violence be unafraid to be a man
who confronts men about women
be unafraid to be a man who confronts big small mean common nasty
everyday men
about women
be unafraid to be a man
who confronts
himself.

April 1st- poem for today.

Standard

I plan to post a poem here every day for the month of April, which is Poetry Month. Not necessarily my own, or by the Poeticians, but just random poetry I love…hope you will come back every day and read a new poem. It usually adds a little something something to one’s day…Hope it will to yours.
We have a Poetician event on April 15th, follow this lead to see the Facebook invite if youre in Dubai:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=104935026213049&ref=nf

Here it today’s poem. It is long and incomprehensible but I think it fits well with the topic of writing. I have a small fondness for it. I wrote this one in NYC. Hope you get through it…

Becoming Poetry
09/2008,
New York.

until i am inspired by merely the breath alive
in no imposed conscious desire
until i can clearly paint the orbit of the stars
around your smile
those veins we all share
despite enemies and
differences assumed
and wars declared
until i can hear the din of your thoughts landing
safely on mine, i cannot venture forth
an understanding total of
the meaning of
the verb to write

bad opening stanzas converge to plot in
me this desire to try
for until i can muscle up the heart to follow each
thought speeding to the center of that abyss
we name memory
how filled with sorrow it is this
graveyard of images habitual, hard it
is to rescue these
thoughts
we deem precious we deem vital
we deem immortal after the seconds they stay
death comes quick to words that are fragile
they that deserve the paper shroud are few and
far from the empty fullness of the mind

and until i learn to save a child from the lives spent in fear
until i can hollow out that throbbing section
of hurt on your face
until i can scavenge and retrieve every painful trace
of life’s blows to your space
embrace away the frown you wear at dusk
every toss unpleasant of our shared sleep
until you no longer weep without knowing why
until i eradicate those cries, of every
single forgotten child, until the calm can
stain and continue to seep
peace
until love is the only possible answer to the
questions our hearts grasp and keep
unless i summon all that in the flick of a spell-weaving
wrist, then open wide my fingers to hold your hand
till all the healing words run steady
stay deep
this cannot be named the journey to write

deceased poems taunt me on a bewitched night
they float around unfocused
ripe for the picking but
well out of this sour woman’s way
they taint the stillness of an urban night, another
morn to wake up empty
until i can burst open, kinetically
magnetically
aligned with all the hopes you muster at the start of each work
week, harried
and forlorn and abandoned we are to desks and uniforms and
forgotten language of the old raw methods as
we inspire and expire in a new universe
silent
i tire of holding this net for poems to catch
my hair a nest of fire
eyes stuck in the mire of banality
and fingers tapping to rule a miniscule empire
i tire, and drive forth the will
to abandon this hunt
admit to the feeble kill
and only then, when i immerse my lungs
in words and paper to render
me blind, until the yoke of this ink has strangled me
i am shackled long and deep and wide
and cannot hide the predator inside
until i am a full captive of myself
alone coercing poems out of flight
until then
until i can guard the love we all
need to hide, and abide by the laws of metaphysics
betrothed to kindness, and the madness of lives spent wiping
words off all the dirty surface
until then, until the reconciliation between neurons
arching impulses that are poison
all these letters in time spent alone
until I am free to be
the owner of myself, all facets pressed and dried and collected
like a flower picked by a sad bride
on her wedding night, to be that flower that shelters you
for years brushed aside by
death
and until i am declared a woman losing her mind
by those who have seen it before
until i can roar in the whispers i send to you
that i want to write
i must first be taught to court the stars at night
to twist the moon
into shapes that while away the unslept time
till finality explains itself to me
in laymen terms i can respect and admire
until then
until i figure out
why cells wont obey me, until i can verbally
emphatically put down in letters you may translate
everything we need to know about love
and hate
until then i can only say i tried, and i tried and tried

until the spiritual stories make sense to me
and are real, not role-playing characters that are so far
imaginary, because one must believe in something
ultimately, and until i can trust to believe what
my eyes don’t see
until we can quantify love, and describe what
it is to just be, until we measure the weight
of friendship on scales of our entwined palms
until we convince the resurrection daily of another day
to stop being the only way
i must find my own means to pray, to yearn for the flesh to say
and ask for and receive another brand new
day, only then, when i am filled with queries no longer
and clear is the home in which I am to stay
then you can proclaim
hey
she would have done well to try and write

until you love me beyond the decay day by day
of my hair and skin organs voice smell laugh kiss fuck hold
and eyes
and say,
always that melodious death of our say
vocal chords extinguished in a harmony of silence
that is the only way, only then when we can
sing all that we need to pray
i will write to you then
to tell you i love you too

no matter the decay

only when the earth explains herself in languages familiar
in long winded dreams of our nights, sobriety
astray
in short bursts of song that is the music
enabling life
enabling my desire to stay
when all the sound clusters to dwell in soundtracks
of beauty, when i am starry and
alight, when this is my gift
to myself, drifting to spaces leaving the soil
to trek the mysterious pages that are vile
adversaries of anyone wanting to write and write and drift aloft
the letters that only you can say
until that day
writing falls always short of my voices that stray
and only when and only if, only how, i can come to know
how quick your feelings come in and go, to know
how i can traverse the distance between hopes
and words, in all the unworded chatter
our skin buzzes, when that geography
of minutiae tells me about the crests and valleys
in your chest, breathing in love for me
when the seas are but a fraction of our home together, only then,
lover, friend or family
stranger in nights smiling, strangers but for the pen,
only then can one dare to try and write

until i can stop time from winning
always spinning stories to steal my seconds
to find the immortality
one needs to willfully awake in mornings
futility lingering a cobweb of fear to trap me here
arms bound, eyes extinguished
death a mere breath away

until until until i can still
the cries of every child buried in the lives spent in fear,
until i can hollow out that throbbing section
of hurt on your face
until then,
i cannot ever really write

and so
and so what
and what if
what does all this wanton seeking say
about what you and i are doing
right now, here in this precious time we have not killed
memories of words to ever stay
even if only for

today

know this
know that this is all i am left to say
know that i love you
today
and know how
my love comes to me invisible
loud and clear to convey

everything we try to place on the insides
of our space, in every trace outline of thought you left behind
lied in divinity, beside
everything else sacred inside
outside
your gorgeous mind
is reborn to life, forever and ever more
and is
becoming poetry

everything we try not to say, that we leave behind, to die
on the edges of our infinite way, all of that
which my fingers cannot bring
to you
all that ever bathed in light and dark
to span the horizon which is etched for evermore
is for now, and forever
at your core
even your savage inhuman core
is alive
is your own indelible mark
and is
becoming poetry.

Women’s day.

Standard

It would take all night, into March 9th, for me to write about the unending amount of respect I have for women around the world who fight for basic human rights, everyday. The way I am moved by the wonderwoman everydaywoman supernaturalwoman who gives life, enjoys life, learns from and teaches life, and when appropriate, has the power to end a life. I can’t help but think of all the ways our world would be different if we had more control, and not from behind the scenes. One of the worst proverbs I used to hear growing up was “Behind every great man is a woman”. Fuck that.
I say we look forward with the strength of the thousands of women before us who died chanting out their voices to say, NO.
I am such a full complete person, I am whole, rooted, ever flowing, a beam of light that does not understand the meaning of the words “You can’t”.
So are you.

Here is a poem for my unborn daughter.

DAUGHTER
Nicole Blackman

One day I’ll give birth to a tiny baby girl
and when she’s born she’ll scream and I’ll make sure
she never stops.

I will kiss her before I lay her down
and will tell her a story so she knows
how it is and how it must be for her to survive.

I’ll tell her about the power of water
the seduction of paper
the promise of gasoline
and the hope of blood.

I’ll teach her to shave her eyebrows and
mark her skin.

I’ll teach her that her body is
her greatest work of art.

I’ll tell her to light things on fire
and keep them burning.

I’ll teach her that the fire will not consume her,
that she must take it and use it.

I’ll tell her to be tri-sexual, to try anything
to sleep with, fight with, pray with anyone,
just as long as she feels something.

I’ll help her do her best work when it rains.
I’ll tell her to reinvent herself every 28 days.
I’ll teach her to develop all her selves,
the courageous ones,
the smart ones,
the dreaming ones
the fast ones.

I’ll teach her that she has an army inside her
that can save her life.

I’ll tell her to say Fuck like other people say The
and when people are shocked
to ask them why they so fear a small quartet
of letters.

I’ll make sure she always carries a pen
so she can take down the evidence.
If she has no paper, I’ll teach her to
write everything down on her tongue
write it on her thighs.

I’ll help her to see that she will not find God
or salvation in a dark brick building
built by dead men.

I’ll explain to her that it’s better to regret the things
she has done than the things she hasn’t.

I’ll teach her to write her manifestos
on cocktail napkins.
I’ll say she should make men lick her enterprise.

I’ll teach her to talk hard.
I’ll tell her that her skin is the
most beautiful dress she will ever wear.

I’ll tell her that people must earn the right
to use her nickname,
that forced intimacy is an ugly thing.

I’ll make her understand that she is worth more
with her clothes on.

I’ll tell her that when the words finally flow too fast
and she has no use for a pen
that she must quit her job
run out of the house in her bathrobe,
leaving the door open.
I’ll teach her to follow the words.

I’ll tell her to stand up
and head for the door
after she makes love.
When he asks her to
stay she’ll say
she’s got to
go.

I’ll tell her that when she first bleeds
when she is a woman,
to go up to the roof at midnight,
reach her hands up to the sky and scream.

I’ll teach her to be whole, to be holy,
to be so much that she doesn’t even
need me anymore.
I’ll tell her to go quickly and never come back.
I will make her stronger than me.

I’ll say to her never forget what they did to you
and never let them know you remember.

Never forget what they did to you
and never let them know you remember.

Poetician lust and love!

Standard

It was a super cool event on Tuesday. I missed some people in the audience who ought to have been there, but it was such a lovely presence with familiar great faces and some new spirits who sat and listened to us, apparently happily! There was some lust, there were some tears, some heartbreak, and some anger (mostly me)…but more than anything, there was the notion that poetry read is for everyone, that listening to a writer express thoughts and feelings can be art, that there are ways to communicate beyond networking and drinking in Dubai, that encouraging people to write and read builds confidence and self esteem and a community of shared ideals and issues. I love it. It also is a great excuse to go and buy shiny Indian skirts for me…

I will share a poem I read that day. It was the opening poem for the night and is dedicated to my single amazing girlfriends, to remind them (and me) of the new RULES. Meant to be funny, it turned out a bit more serious, I guess I can’t help it, sigh, but it resonated with various ladies I shared it with. I hope it reminds you of what you deserve.

The Rules.
For all my lovely single girlfriends.
Dubai- 24/2/2010

Never love a man who has not called to
anxiously check whether you did get sick and could possibly be in bed
retching your inner guts while making excuses for
his busy self, traveling,
never love a man who answers your explosive letters with one liners that lead nowhere,
who wants to rip your clothes off only when they are
fishnet stockings and does not
encourage you to hold his hand in public, never let that man be your waking hours,
be your insidious dreams in morning desire,
never ask him how he is seven times in an evening because
he was tired a week earlier, never jump off the tired couch with your tired hands
on your tired feet to give him the ease and comfort of soul with your
magic fingers that heal, never cancel your work, your dates, your coffees, your time
alone for a man who forgets to check his phone
who does not hide in office corners to call you,
never buy him little gifts you see everywhere, because somehow everything
now reminds you of him, even little trinkets he most certainly will
hate become objects of worship you claim he ought to have
in his home
without you,
how he needs a larger mug for the tea you imagine
drinking together, never fret about what to give give give
to a man who will always leave you,
never never look in the mirror and see your curves through his eyes
wondering if he can notice in the dark
the extra hairs you forgot to shave
the blemishes you cant erase
the three pounds you may have gained, the skin stretches, the flesh dimples,
and never let yourself make love in the dark, even if it
feels like the only way,
never wait on him, never wait for him, never hang breathless wondering what
he is going to say, staring at ceilings while he moves in
other worlds ambivalent,
never let yourself be curious as to what he’s thinking, word by word,
action by action,
deciphering minutiae of nothing to the madness in
your analysis, play by play,
while he books tickets
dinners
concerts
to amuse himself,
makes plans that are a schedule for person one,
never tell him you love him
you want him
you miss him
you think of him
in all the languages he can speak
you ache for him
and never let him into your room, to come and go as he pleases,
to flee and then return at midnight to stay, never
ever deny yourself love for him, deny yourself food, music, magic, the
sisterhood that is your ancestry,
books and aloneness and your own inner deity,
never have his children,
never let go of your oceans and the jungles and the deserts to chase his name,
and never,
never ever I say,
never admit that this too is a poem for him.

Sarah Snowneil Ali- Anthem

Standard

Sarah is one of our beautiful regular Poetician readers. She joined in Beirut and started the Dubai chapter with me. Her support and tireless interest in all things poetry is inspiring. Her own project, Atelier Poetica, has just taken off and I look forward to seeing it grow. Like a shiny purple flower!

Anthem

We walked
stepped over garbage
avoided spit smudged on the sidewalk
and cars intent on making
metal bend to squeeze
through the tight chaos
of streets uneven
resembling women annoyed
their pouts silicon glossy
ageless.
Young,
we walked in Beirut
loud adamantly flailing our hands in disgust
rebels with pretty words on paper
we throw aside
coffee stained and sleepless
to swear like men
and laugh with no shame
at our vulgar tongues
releasing primeval groans
from our fed up mouths
that speak of societies
we wish to revolt
we know we will leave
that we curse with as much love
as we know for anything that doesn’t breathe
finding ourselves somewhere between
the cracked paint, the cigarette filter
and our expression.
She says I don’t deserve this and
my nod is pained as I retrace nostalgia
of that which I didn’t deserve and don’t still.
So we walk,
martyred at our chest
legs we drag scrapping asphalt with annoyance
willing sparks from the ground
we stomp
lifting slender necks to the sky
to try to find the stars
above the concrete,
beyond the wires draped like bandages
we sigh and say
to hell with that musky scent
and anything that makes you cry.

Nizar Wattad- The Roofer.

Standard

Nizar- AKA Ragtop- is a comic book lover, a scriptwriter, a poet, a hip hop artist, a creator and an all round awesome man. He is also very tall.
He was part of the Human Writes Project that flew out to Dubai to perform a hip hop event with us and then grace a luminous and memorable Poetician event before flying back to LA. I am so grateful.

The Roofer

1.

God bless that man”

said Max, relaxed looking

out off the patio

past the bush whose name

I do not know

but back home

we call her crazy girl.

Crazy, like that man

past the bush across

the street atop his roof.

He’s there every day,

even Sunday,

hammering tarmac flat so hot

it reflects the sun blackly.

2.

His daughter left the house

at 6:10 in the morning,

chilly walking fast in the dim

pink light a bundle swaddled

on her chest not

sixteen years old if not thirty.

She clutched her child,

drew him close passing

into the shadow

of that bickering old elm.

She looked like the woman from Atitlan.

Fog kissed the broad lake as her fingers plucked coffee…


Friendship.

Standard

A very dear, very old friend of mine is on my mind a lot this week. He is going through some difficulties and it makes me realize how important basic communication is. So many people I know do not connect with others. I do not know how they do it. People are important.

This next poem is for my wonderful, brilliant and unique friend. He knows how much I love him.

Do your friends know you love them?

Friend

01/02/2009

Dubai

You knew me before i was this woman

poet scrounging for words

elusive

witnessing together the triumph

of that journey we took to

become us, in the making, ever and

again, unmade and replaced by

a newer carcass

lost to our youth, how your smile still dazzles

me and sends me letters in silence

across distance we

never paid attention to,

you knew me awkward and afraid

attuned to the tacit agreements we

signed to love beyond the

geography of convenience

beyond the shape of the atlas

beneath the earth that separates, to dwell in the

quickened internal rhapsody

of your fleeting poems, a prayer, an amulet to protect our laughter

burying the days of despair we count over and over

brutal score keepers noting each other’s failure

fingers unclenched to protect you

from yourself

i am bare,

that hideous form i cower from dispelled in the mirror

of your hands, for

to you, i am no shape

i am no matter

but a collection of stars free in your night

a simple sun ray beaming through a window of time

stretching to where you stand solid

that lights the horizon of memory

from here

to there, to you. And now i am tempted to cup my hand

across your face, to lean in and touch

the absence of distance, to mold

my thoughts after the

pattern of our speech, frazzled,

connected through stutter and the singular way

there is no other like you,

none ever. You keep my past safe in renewed breath,

i forage the world to dream close to you

willing this life to break

gently

a tumbleweed of love fragile

to be swept up

in the free wind

together