Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Little concepts,bigger ends

Naked, we fear our bodies 
because our skin and bones are too ugly for the eyes
see no evil, we tell ourselves

thirsty, we stop drinking water
because the sources were polluted and it takes years to clean them
we wallow in our own mess

tired, we turn a blind eye 
to how sleep can invite creatures into our dreams, 
made by noise and thunder 

long-forgotten, the familiar conversation 
around how intense one minute can be 
when lost to silence 

far away, the homes that raised us 
we walk with closed ears and pierced lungs 
without thinking how like a circle to its center: we are connected 

grounded, we leave 
like migrating birds to warmer climates 
forgetting that too much sunshine invites worse rain 

blame, the words we lost on another's mouths 
when we fail to right them, by the hands we chewed

human, we are, despite the various ways 
we praise the machines: with soft language
to make life easier, we claim. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pi Beta Phi Sisters

The Pi Beta Phi sisters talk above my ear
whispering and I cannot imagine what is worse
hearing low muttered chat or hearing it at full speed
full volume

their bags, colored, their shorts
uniformed like school children
black and blue, a variation of what's in their words:
mud and sky

muttered hand gestures, waved
in blonde hair that's been bleached
by a desire to stand out while still
looking the same: a carbon copy of a model

a boy's candy, with sugar and spice
and everything nice. The sugar Brazilian,
the spice, Indian, the something nice
local with a crop top and a faded out jean short

The Pi Beta Phi sisters
laugh, swearing on secrets ones will be broken
at library door, for a number, a pretty face
or a set of eyes that promise a hot plate at the end of the day

I do not know the Beta sisters'
secret but I know that no matter
how loud or low their voice is
their library conversations does not concern me, at all.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A woman rants

,Dear men

I am sick of the thoughts in your head
even if I am not responsible of their plantation
like rice with too much murky water
because you had voiced them out once

I am tired of judgment
measuring with a scale the worth of others
who walk besides me, even those who prod
murder but never scream it

I do not dare tell you that
a mirror has two faces
one reflects outwards
the other inward, like people who long ago stripped

their masks; our neighbor with the short skirt
who receives a reference to factories running short of sewing material
 our Hijabi friend who has her hair shy
  to suit suitors who suit God by ill-taking those who walk under his skies

take them to be a variation
of destiny versus desire
like a lie told to make a child feel better
garnished with visuals, to please, to yield

Dear men,
stop treating me like I dropped out of space
onto your laps, in case you haven't noticed
.I'm not a waxed apple.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Iowan reflections

It is too early to confess
but I know something has closed
a door, a chance, an end I cannot tell yet

I walk in this city without giving any attention
to the fact that my body matches the cracks
of the pavement:it is tiny and needs maintenance

the wind is pregnant with mist and moist
mosquitoes and a sense of misfits
a march together clothed in yellow-and-black-T shirts

I cannot read the directions here
everything is straight and full
yet nothing is even

not even the myths of the streets: a blue eyed stranger,
the passport burner, preaches his own death to reach God,
 yet awes over the karats in my rosary

the street, whose name I never heard
teems with tarot readers, toddlers and tears
it rains as often as I cry: unwillingly, without expectation

I do not want to talk of other cities here,
the way my body
melted and was remade by the faces of others, elsewhere

it changes here and with words
a sharp edge of a knife that stubs me
as I kiss it, this literature, this desire, this madness

at loss next to the Iowa river I note
my grief in you is now two and a half years old
if it was a boy, it would be calling your name

but I won't tell you and I do not confess to the river
my ability to fall hard
without breaking any bones.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The last glass of wine, your voice

you I cannot classify you other than
the voice in my head
telling me not to have the last glass of wine.

what remains, what goes

Never leave written evidence
if it is put down, then it is
ascribed in stone
what you say is wasted in air
what you note down, remains.

A new found fear

This is the fear that burrows in the nighttime
an unexplained heart that stutters
an explanation that begs itself to another window
one your soul refuses to open

anxiety, it is a form of self explanation
somewhere, something or the other will happen
a glass will shatter, a building will fall
an idea will become another

fear those who do not speak,
because those who do reflect themselves
with light and fire
with ice and disaster

but those who do not speak
think, of deeper desires
like an unnecessary apology
that comes in late, never grants gratitude

fear this or that-
you know, you have never experienced
real fear, until your heart
couldn't stop beating with a rigor that defies
your soul.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Salute the homeland

How long did it take me to realize
home, is relative, with all the sense of the word

a relative's kiss on your tear-soaked cheeks
is just a reminder of how home was, is, constantly a softness

they told me softness is not weakness
yet I melt like butter on the sight of a pack of hummus

in a cold remote supermarket
in a fridge that labels the name incorrectly

everything becomes relative when you are alone
like anger that lands slowly in my heart

when I hear the language I use twisted,
 in the name of flowering sister languages

like knowing that time changes
no matter how hard I close my fingers

it is all relative, this longing, the smell of old Za'tar
packed away, making me salute the homeland every time it whiffs.

This summer's rain

Rain in the summer is short
forecasts an autumn
that's as yellow as a pumpkin
rounding up for Halloween.

Sometimes sunshine is in someone's pocket

For G, after whom there's 'only darkness every day'

You give me a pen
I will give you a stack of emotions to your use
you put flowers in my hair, jump to grasp them
while I stand and think of departures

in a grand sense of the word, with drama
a rigor that goes beyond a year spent with me swearing a lot
for the things I have built have suddenly melted
without my permission or your standing

 you watch me down wine like water while I
laugh in the ears of boys who do not want to listen
to my voice, at least
I have nothing to say to swaying bodies

you tell me to call before I walk the gates of the airport
once I step into the departure hall, all I can see is shadows
of two people, one tall, one short
they are not us, because we were never the sons of happiness

you speak of joy while I see open caskets
ask you to bless my fear and you do
it makes me laugh, this desire of you to handle
the worst parts of me

how can you keep the sunshine in your pocket
when walking out on the street invites darkness into your very skin
soaping you over like a child who's wet with hunger?
you skip in your step and that's where the secrets lie.

A conversation around water

Swimming, it seems, is becoming a critical skill
yes. well noted, in the age of running toward the sea
from the sun, the fire, the spirits
left behind by putting more pressure on the land
this is what the water's for, another way out
infinite and deep.

What do you need to write?

Not a river-bed in front of your very eyes
floating with murky brown waters, a few strangers 
pretending like the whole word is in one small town
they have lived for many years without necessarily needing
to tap on one of its stories, regardless of how bad it is drafted
how well  it keeps character or name.

Not a muse that pretends to arrive from outside
of your body, like a vitamin melted swiftly in water
fizzing a little, smothering all hope of a better air
with a sense of dictation that needs no pens
comes for no money, disregards the entire need
to sleep, to think, to be at peace

Not another person telling you to do it
or not to do it, or taking you out to a cafe
old style with records that give the illusion of something
happening in another time perhaps,
or someone inviting you to a dance
like the world will still be alright with you not putting pen to paper

Not a style, a grammatical line that makes you think twice
an accent you have developed to blend in with
those who have aborted the idea of your very existence
before you had the chance to say your name 
free from grammatical errors
like it's a chant everyone should hear

this is what you need then, to start the act of murder
of words, of many tears and little food
of being: all you need is
a good seat, a pen and enough heartache.

A question

Do you want to live like this;
using a full heart to measure the spoons of sugar
but half a brain to know what to do
when the sugar gets wasted?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Used to noise

I never realized I am so used to noise
to the rising of the day with rooster cries sending me
to the edge of my nerves, on foot, before my eyes can open
to the sound of morning prayer disturbing a sleep
which is always eventful with dreams bigger than my body
faint buildings tumbling, losing people at sea, coming back home
empty-handed like it is normal to wander
without aim in a place that constantly reminds me
I have not much time left
before the next bullet pierces my lungs

 I am so used to noise, a kid screaming
for a better day disguised under a constant request for ice-cream
to a swearing mouth of a neighbor at night or a movement
of the guys who secretly dance while they deny their sister
the ears for music

I am used to a thousand callers for my name
a hundred at zero distance shouting in my ear
unneeded information, like dust, like wind
always present, never doubted
used to all those around me who shout so I can listen
but never consider my need to hear them

but this is a heaven you give me, greenery
a house by a river, made of brick, brittle laughter and brown rice
tell me now, what do I do
with all of this silence?

My nightmares

A dog follows to chew on my foot
the trees move their shadows
there are strange men and stranger sounds
ones I can only hear when I close my eyes, these days
my nightmares are real
now that I only have my breath to hold me.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

All this commotion

He asks, how can you have such commotion
around you, like waves of the ocean collected together
let go alone? Such excitement, such valor
she answers, this is the way with children
excitement engulfs them before they grow-up

A twelve hour sleep

No dreams between the clouds
none on earth either
it is odd, this desire to stay awake
to continue to dream

Counting backwards

Don't count backward
three planes and thousands of miles
but you will say: I haven't had this silence
to be, to create, to assure peace come along,

We are all afraid of chaos,
the wind that can carry us away
in one sweep, of the noise
of how much the words 'I miss you' can
become a rock on our ankles

I speak of longings like I do
about bread, like it is a saving grace
to live on the edge of everything;
too much goodness,
too much food then once you find yourself
idle, fear becomes the key

with which you survive what others
have taught you to forgo
falling of old hairs
shedding of comfortable skin
you cannot cast away the ideas
that float in your head
just remember do not count backwards
what can take you forward.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Like clay, these sashes

Why wear capes that are taller than you
when you can trip and fall?
it is on your shoulders, this sash
that binds you together
like clay, you will not fall apart.

The empty swings

The swings swing empty
of the children who sat, who laughed
who were forced to leave
after the bombs fell.

What do we say about this fear?

Fear wears me as if I am his vest,
makes sure to tighten the straps around my waist

pulls me so close that I cannot breath
how can I explain when I have no oxygen

in my forced lungs? I ask
fear is what we do not know,

like long alleys of new cities
imagined lined with nothing but needles and strangers

like losing your way in broad daylight
by slipping suddenly into a mine-field

like where I live where fear makes up
most rooms but is covered by nice Persian tapestry

spaces we pretend not to see, an old photo in a drawer
to forget doesn't mean to forgive

this fear, mine,
that fear yours,

of slipping and never getting up
of losing a love you never had but still

was brave enough to lean on its belly
like a crutch, or a new fear of rings

locking up, the faces, the dates,
the times of our lives

What do we say about this fear?
other than it's strong, like a vest
with a broken zipper, you cannot
take off, no matter how hard you try.

The piano's daughter

Hunched over, she stopped praying
let the music work the tune
the keys are straight
white and black for the sound
that comes out is sharper
broken, like her knuckles.

Olympian reflections

On Olympus, they stood
looked down, this was what the gods did

true, they descended at times
to watch the muscles work, avoiding all human contact

lest they trained harder,
hurt their beauty and others

on the mountains near Rio,
the Olympians stood, like the gods

watching a city in disguise
with feathers to cover murky waters

with make up to freshen up
old hearts that are too tired to salsa dance

naked, in the moonlight
the Olympians stand to know

one trained once
for the digging of Gold,
bronze and silver over these tired muscles
couldn't see

the children whose bread was stolen
the boys who lost their legs
to pave for the stadiums

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Some things you will never truly hear

From my window, the temples tell me how great
man has become while I sit, on the floor writing
a poem about past lovers, still present
just outside of my body

Read the rest of this poem here:

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Rarely do I think of my roots

Rarely do I think of my roots
you are not a tree, a friend comments
I know, I can feel it in my body

rarely do I think of my roots
perhaps as a way of negating
the fact that I spit out the tongue I have- twice

once for envy, the second time
for complications beyond my name
beyond my origin

beyond the tree planted
that bleeds olive oil
in the absence of rain

or mothers that mourn life
by giving birth to children
who are sent to loss, as temporary gifts

rarely do I think of my origin
at the small hour
when the fever of words haunt me

rarely do I think of having the East
poured inside of me, spices, silk
trade-route, wars, women who were once power

now craved for power to be
to speak, to learn to stand up
after breaking a back for a smile

rarely do I think of a food
that ties my stomach to my heart
one I reject, then gracefully crave when alone

rarely do I think that I originate
from the world's longest oozing sore,
that still bleeds because it keeps giving birth
to humans like me.

A storm over my head

How did you storm my head? come charging like hail 
you are not a God, who then, 
gave you access to formulate clouds 
like little cotton gather them then start 
to make it rain, where buckets overflow 
to the music of tapping, a drop upon another 
who gave you the ingredients of rain
had you not collected them from my own sweat and tears
who did you talk to behind my back, love?

the burning butterfly

What's the butterfly escape
when caught, like a moth, browning
between the one who lit the flame
and the one who fans it,
to torture, rub on its wings
other oils, that set higher the sparks

just a flutter of a wing
another way, to freedom

Mistake this city

This city takes away my privacy
when it asks, with its eyes
the size of trousers I am wearing,
the length of its fabric round my feet

the city takes away my privacy
as I talk, it hears only stutters
half words, repeating rhymes
because it has refused to listen

this city distorts my vision
by asking me to cover my eyes
and walk without need to look
for pits dug in the earth around me

this is a city for those stronger
able to lift another body on their back
carry it and walk along with it
for a lifetime

the city of closed eyes, open legs
that navigate darkness into an alley
an old car parked by the valley

this city, mine,leaves me yelling, give me back my time
give me back this life I had imagined for myself
in a new town.

Hand over a child

He asks you about the curve in your hand 
you say, it is the amount of toil put out 
shaping the bones that shape you 

he asks about money, 
you turn your head to the direction of light 
pray that he forget your answer 

you leave him stranded
eggs smashed, not cooked well on a cold day 
leave breakfast cold and then refuse to eat 

you give him a sand-grain 
when he asks you for the sea 
make excuses about sunshine and little boys' hair 

he doesn't ask, you forward the answer 
but I stand to wonder:
why bring children into the world 
when you do not want them?

the art-house

Frail colorful feathers
this artist builds,
a house of imaginative days
once lived, in a universe
painted by a five year old
lulled by a teenager

Mid evening realization

Mid evening realizations come to you
unexpected, like when you curl up to read a book
then your heart beats a little faster
with a thought

that you forgot a trivial sock on the clothes line
maybe it will become sun-kissed
washed out of the need
of hanging

that you have suddenly made the world
less colorful by pulling out
on someone's skin
with a word

that you have been folding your desires
like you do laundry
sort one with each shade
for each weekday

that you have been speaking about things
without putting letters down
because once written
it is real

that this fear of now, fear of yesterday
fear of the night, the day, the others
is only
a realization, like everything else
you start believing.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Anxiety attack

Close your eyes but do not sleep
focus on my voice, as it trails
to stop a train, my voice
yes myy

the room is not getting smaller
not spinning
not running around you
you are still standing, somehow

it won't stop, that beating heart of yours
the insignificant details that will insist
on you keeping your eyes open
sentences that begin with what if and end in a scene of drowning

the falconer hears its falcon
for this world does not end
yet, the trees still stand firmly
on the ground

close your eyes
breath in all the walks by the beach
all the times someone hugged you tight
the times you fed the dog fish food for fun

close your eyes
do not fall asleep
but keep focusing on my voice, friend.

The truth never dies

The truth never lies, we were told
but this is why we rely on mirrors
lean onto other people's words

how we look, our curves
the lines on our eyes
but, then the truth never lies

when the scar is scraped
the knee braised while hiding
a little unknown

the truth never dies
when it is our own.


Just another chapter of the book
later, later

just another episode on the television
there is time, there's still time

time to do and time to rest
time to think and time to test

just one more cup of tea
with a stranger, an experience, right?

just one more dance with awkward feet
one more lap around the mall

there's discounts and sales
places to visit, places to love and hate

later later
just one more walk to the kitchen
this is the originality of saying
I will do things later, when later arrives to haunt me.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The new month

the new month washes
the old one away, with bad dates
ancient coffee pots,
starts over, the calendar.