I sat on my couch eating corn chips. The mail-lady would come soon. Perhaps she’d drop something in the little letterbox slot in my door. One day, I was certain, it would be the message I awaited, the announcement of an immutable truth: a letter that would produce a pure rapture, a few lines that would change my life. From whom it would come, what its message would say, wither I would go upon reading its words—these remained, of course, a mystery. I heard her lightsome footsteps down the hall. I jumped up from my couch, tossed my bag of corn chips aside, and hovered near the door. My ear like a suction-cup pressed again the paneling. An envelope flew in the slot. It was addressed “To Current Resident.” In fact, it was the same junk mail—a coupon for a new donut shop—I’d received yesterday. A duplicate or accident perhaps? Dejected, I looked around at my messy apartment: other junk mail, overdue bills, catalogs for camping gear and lingerie, crumpled Chinese fortunes and crumbs from the cookies they’d resided in, the crossword section of the Sunday Times, a translation of Virgil, and nutrition facts on the back of my corn chips bag… Suddenly, I had a belated inspiration: could it be, the message had already arrived! Maybe I had overlooked its significance. Perhaps the second coupon for the donut shop meant something different, more profound than the first? After all, I remembered Borges’s parable of Pierre Menard. The signs were right here; the signs were all around me. The message had arrived long ago, only—what I needed was a method, a process by which I could be assured of its indubitable, its astonishing interpretation.
If he could, King Kong would crush us all. He wouldn’t hesitate, and neither would we. We’d gladly be liquefied in his mortal arms. But once you hear nothing, you hear it forever. It might be the angels of clarity scrambling off with the last canoe, slivering through your sirens to burn all the wrong thoughts from your eyes.
I, for my part, have had nothing to say for months.
I do, however, find it remarkable how
Wanton the sea is without losing any dignity,
and how malleable the sand beneath it.
A man walks into a bar—but it isn’t a bar: it’s many bars. It’s bar after bar of a ten-page score that in the next eight minutes will loosen a pinched city man in the front row clear through the folds of his skin, like steam from a mare’s lips penetrating the deep creases of an outstretched pale palm. The boy slouched at the exit will pull his hands free of his pockets, tuck his long purple bangs behind his ear, and lean his head against the door frame with his eyes closed. The fat lady with too much perfume and eyelashes like spider legs will cry tears that dig channels down her cheeks, parting the layers of powder and rouge, trickling at long last into the forgotten delta cleavage of her heaving chest…
Cast your sorrow
into the purple clouds.
Time is burning beneath them.
A brook curdles, in
a rush of pebbles,
and dried reeds.
That's where we can go
when the hours move.
That's where we can go,
though it will be only,
one foot on the stones wedged
along the bank,
while you lay amid
the rattle of oak leaves.
We will go,
and those leaves and stones
descend in their path
that do not turn back
Regarding his work, the artist says:
I rarely draw out of inspiration. I draw because that´s the only thing that keeps me sane. Describing individual pieces is hard. As I recall this particular piece was taken from one of many strange and bizarre dreams I’ve had. Hell knows what it means. Your guess is as good as mine and I thank you for viewing it.
Just finished yelling fire in the jam-packed cineplex, when Peaches said, What are you trying to tell me, Eddie? Of course, I wasn’t at liberty to divulge any trade secrets, so I said, I prefer it when my stove cooks itself. While we were being escorted to the parking lot, Peaches reminded me that there’s nothing more beautiful than a fat man who can dance, but the angry satellites continued to circle overhead like a pack of jackals orbiting a nest of fire ants. Nothing good happens when your back is turned. I was just about to take a swig from my weekday flask, when I remembered a lawyer may not assist a client with a crime. So, I asked Peaches if, after she threw the bodies into a shallow grave, she would mind lighting them on fire? She didn’t say no right away. Hurry up, I said. We haven’t got all night.
there arrives a day when we all
grow old at the pace we choose.
split the winter days open like
blackberries between gleaming
teeth, thread them together like
pearls or pills to swallow down.
death, they say, is optional; like
the lilac bush, we can flower in
every spring. unlike the blossoms,
wilting has been forgotten. come
sunday, we dance in the rain, skin
paper-thin and running translucent
with water. outliving the sun will
be like this: an exhalation that does
not end, the dirty copper taste of
pennies minted a thousand years ago,
an eternal grave in the white sky.
at the line where sky meets prairie
the orange locomotive pulls coal cars
over steel rails, bisecting field & sky
a serrated edge I might peel
as if from a notebook, parchment
leaf left to drift, chiffon-like
into the muted overhead
winter tight in lockjaw grip.
I’ve learned, after all these years,
how to hear the rumble of its coming
through the soles of my feet
harmonics pulsating the air around
my ribs. only ever as it comes
but never as it goes.
Now I bring you to the world
of the unfillable, a constant dying
out of one cloud in the sky, three drops on the soil
and stars that drop down like rain
in the place where everything dries out eventually,
even the camel’s eye.
It was the land of the dirty forever,
this valley of no scripture,
a refusal to write, a declaration
to sing out in the land of manna,
in the flatlands of air, wandering
a path as clear as a mirage.
It was not Cain’s land.
It was not lead hills,
was not radio communication towers
or detonations the size of Hiroshima
five times over, and Taxol was just a tree.
Now I bring you to the world
of insatiable desert skin—
an unquenchable, sunbaked
depression of an ancient ocean
pit, the immaculate
where the new moon
slips off the sky—
looking like heaven
come down for a night
all carbon-bound in ground-up bones,
steeped in floodwater time and again
and dried by angels wavering the air
to bring you to the world.
Je fus cet arbre dans le brouillard
s'abreuvant aux nuages où s'agrippent ses branches
Je fus l'ombre de l'arbre
sa sève souterraine et sa force lointaine
Je fus cette maison où brille une lumière
une étoile perdue au cœur de la matière
Je fus le feu lui-même son tison et sa cendre
son goût amer dans l'aube qui s'éveille
son rêve devenu poudre d'or et poussière
I was that tree in the mist
drinking from clouds where the branches clasp
I was the shadow of that tree
its underground sap and its far-off strength
I was this house where a light burns
a forlorn star at the heart of matter
I was fire itself
its ember and cinder
its bitter taste in the wakening dawn
its dream reduced to gold specks
I take your hand and ask you to come with me now and sip the bright shod possibilities of life, slip into its secret passages. Sup the essence of the universe, from a golden cup of mysteries and from eyes, and hair, and from the feel of the blood in our flesh.
You have hunting eyes, are brawn and slick in blue jeans and dark leather, giving chase to my dancing steps, capturing my sidelong glances. The cup is brimming, swirling with wanderlust and wonder lust; bubbling with wishes and hopes; scented with dreams and delights; and weighted with the lies we think we need to tell to taste them.
We are new to one another, clothed in our bright smiled disguises, wearing our best version of how we wish we were; of how we wish the other to perceive us, each trying to put their thoughts into the other’s mind…
noorie does not wait for the train to Beirut anymore.
it carries hope in the form of starvation and tuberculosis,
and she loves sunsets a little too much.
her brother was born with a silver spoon in his mouth
except the spoon was a shrapnel
and silver was the colour of the shroud they covered ammi with.
noorie turned 15 this ruddy autumn
when the roads were adorned by more rouge than bloody trees with amber leaves.
the carcass of her dreams hangs from the gallows along with the boys
who mistook democracy for freedom.
she paints her skies with shades of crimson instead of cerulean–
only the granite of her pencils and the grenades
of the president romanticize sunsets, now.
noorie never learnt how to loop her words into letters of dissent
the graffiti which took her creed to the streets burns like the dark mark on her left forearm.
and her neck. and her bosom.
sunsets seep through the makeshift window of her paper house like words telling her to escape
but she still dots her i’s with fragments of fear and lines her t’s with blood smears she can only
hope were not her abbu’s.
noorie does not know how to hide
so she seeks until she what she seeks for gets consumed by starving fires or starving soldiers
from the other side of the metaphorical border or the starving earth which opens up for
everything except for her.
the sun sets on all she was ever forced to love with a finality she is yet to learn what to do with.
she is yet to unlearn, unhook, unhinge her damned naseeb.
noorie does not wait for the train to Beirut, anymore.
her home lies painted in shades of wars
while her body lays bare for jihadists in the name of religion
she wears the syrian flag instead of her niqab
while her burqa pays homage to the street she took her first breath in.
the kohl she uses for nazar comes from the coal of burnt wreckage
while her name mocks the existence of every Allah her people pray to.
the only Allah she has known was the man who fed her truth from a liqueur bottle.
noorie does not believe in salvation, anymore;
only in lonely sunsets and their lessons in rahm.