Tag Archives: poeticians

More Stephen Dunn (although I’ve lost track of poetry month)

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Dont know what number this is for April poetry month. I never wanted to do much math. I just know, you will get a poem everyday if I can help it.
We have a poetry reading next Thursday here, on the 15th, at the Shelter. I don’t think I was aware of the April poetry month thing when I picked that date, but I like how its smack in the middle of the month. If anyone out there is reading this, highly unlikely, and you are in Dubai, come to the Poeticians reading, 7 pm at the Shelter.
Ok, enough propaganda.
Here are two gorgeous poems by Stephen Dunn. Ahhh. Brilliant. The second one moves me a lot.

At The Smithville Methodist Church

It was supposed to be Arts & Crafts for a week,
but when she came home
with the “Jesus Saves” button, we knew what art
was up, what ancient craft.

She liked her little friends. She liked the songs
they sang when they weren’t
twisting and folding paper into dolls.
What could be so bad?

Jesus had been a good man, and putting faith
in good men was what
we had to do to stay this side of cynicism,
that other sadness.

OK, we said, One week. But when she came home
singing “Jesus loves me,
the Bible tells me so,” it was time to talk.
Could we say Jesus

doesn’t love you? Could I tell her the Bible
is a great book certain people use
to make you feel bad? We sent her back
without a word.

It had been so long since we believed, so long
since we needed Jesus
as our nemesis and friend, that we thought he was
sufficiently dead,

that our children would think of him like Lincoln
or Thomas Jefferson.
Soon it became clear to us: you can’t teach disbelief
to a child,

only wonderful stories, and we hadn’t a story
nearly as good.
On parents’ night there were the Arts & Crafts
all spread out

like appetizers. Then we took our seats
in the church
and the children sang a song about the Ark,
and Hallelujah

and one in which they had to jump up and down
for Jesus.
I can’t remember ever feeling so uncertain
about what’s comic, what’s serious.

Evolution is magical but devoid of heroes.
You can’t say to your child
“Evolution loves you.” The story stinks
of extinction and nothing

exciting happens for centuries. I didn’t have
a wonderful story for my child
and she was beaming. All the way home in the car
she sang the songs,

occasionally standing up for Jesus.
There was nothing to do
but drive, ride it out, sing along
in silence.

The Sudden Light And The Trees

My neighbor was a biker, a pusher, a dog
and wife beater.
In bad dreams I killed him

and once, in the consequential light of day,
I called the Humane Society
about Blue, his dog. They took her away

and I readied myself, a baseball bat
inside my door.
That night I hear his wife scream

and I couldn’t help it, that pathetic
relief; her again, not me.
It would be years before I’d understand

why victims cling and forgive. I plugged in
the Sleep-Sound and it crashed
like the ocean all the way to sleep.

One afternoon I found him
on the stoop,
a pistol in his hand, waiting,

he said, for me. A sparrow had gotten in
to our common basement.
Could he have permission

to shoot it? The bullets, he explained,
might go through the floor.
I said I’d catch it, wait, give me

a few minutes and, clear-eyed, brilliantly
afraid, I trapped it
with a pillow. I remember how it felt

when I got my hand, and how it burst
that hand open
when I took it outside, a strength

that must have come out of hopelessness
and the sudden light
and the trees. And I remember

the way he slapped the gun against
his open palm,
kept slapping it, and wouldn’t speak.

April poetry month- Stephen Dunn is beautiful. (exquisite)

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I hate the word Beautiful. It’s always the first word to come to mind, but I try to fight it often and use others. I discovered Laura Marling and her music recently, thanks to poetician Nigel Holt, and I have been addicted. If you dont know her, check out “My manic and I”, an excellent song.
I am happy that reviews/blurbs/ and a forward for my book are in the works. I should have all the material collected from various kind writers and sources…I wont reveal who is writing about the book, you need to see the actual book to find out! But I am super grateful for this wonderful community of Arab and American authors and editors.
I still dont have a title for the new book. It’s been called “The new book” for months now. Dammit. Its bordering on disaster, since the cover cannot be finished without it, nor can we get an ISBN number. Suffering.
To stop rambling about nothing, Im gonna go back to my coffee (with soya, hmmm) and leave you with amazing poems from Stephen Dunn. If you dont know him, google his name now! now! He is brilliant. I love his work and wish that one day I could squeeze tons of meaning into simple short lines.
Enjoy. April is such a GREAT month!

Landscape At The End Of The Century

by Stephen Dunn

The sky in the trees, the trees mixed up
with what’s left of heaven, nearby a patch
of daffodils rooted down
where dirt and stones comprise a kind
of night, unmetaphysical, cool as a skeptic’s
final sentence. What this scene needs
is a nude absentmindedly sunning herself
on a large rock, thinks the man fed up
with nature, or perhaps a lost tiger,
the maximum amount of wildness a landscape
can bear, but the man knows and fears
his history of tampering with everything,
and besides to anyone who might see him
he’s just a figure in a clearing
in a forest in a universe
that is as random as desire itself,
his desire in particular, so much going on
with and without him, moles humping up
the ground near the daffodils, a mockingbird
publishing its cacaphonous anthology,
and those little Calvinists, the ants,
making it all the more difficult
for a person in America
to close his office, skip to the beach.
But what this scene needs are wisteria
and persimmons, thinks the woman
sunning herself absentmindedly on the rock,
a few magnificent words that one
might want to eat if one were a lover
of words, the hell with first principles,
the noon sun on my body, tempered
by a breeze that cannot be doubted.
And as she thinks, she who exists
only in the man’s mind, a deer grazes
beyond their knowing, a deer tick riding
its back, and in the gifted air
mosquitos, dragonflies, and tattered
mute angels no one has called upon in years.

I will post some more of his more accessible work tomorrow. He is so good. This last line was amazing, no?

Third poem for April Poetry Month- Lara Sawalha!

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Hello again. It’s Sunday morning-ish. Apparently it’s Easter. I guess it’s a sign of how my life has developed the past few years, that I didn’t know it was Easter till yesterday. Not much I miss about Easter aside from painting eggs with my mother, who loved her arts and crafts with us. Anyway, isnt that ritual some pagan rite to do with spring?
Who cares. It’s poetry month! yay! The following poem is by Lara Sawalha, a lovely actress from Jordan, who is set to be a new Poetician as soon as we have a reading in Amman this summer. I thank her for offering a poem for our poetry month series, and yes yes, I know I am one day late.

This is a poem about Beirut.

“The Bay of Roots”

Beirut lights mixed with triptonic thunder strikes
Cold as the night
The words of murmured rhymes come together
Into beats as lighting bites
Hail, rain, umbrellas
Fairouz – “بوس الواوا”
Remarks the sign of Gaza
And the Intifada
Underground hip hop all around
Free styles, words crying
The smoke that brings your world flying
The lit cherry of obscure dancing
Images on the wall
Through the eye of the projecting
Electricity
Dark corners flashing neon
Conversations staggering
Thoughts glimmering
People all around
Like a jangled web
All caught in the moment
Of shivering vibration
Hot, Cold, Sweaty
Jammed in a Lebanese taxi
“Wow, your face is so close to mine”
Bumping into the roof of the odysee
Chilled to the bone and all crazy
Stuck between Iraq and a hard place
Lyrics booming
The boom box so close
I can hear it lurking
Sounds of crystals smashing
Waves gaining as the Beirut lights come to
A shimmering.

April 1st- poem for today.

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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.

Poetician lust and love!

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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.