Saturday, October 28, 2017

strangers help

Extend an arm out for the stranger
who does not turn to you
when you least expect it

you call it sympathy,
this offering
of yourself over strangers altars

filling up with resentment
to the things you do not want
to keep down

extend an arm out for the stranger
who will turn to face you
saying grace

when you least amount for it.

night-waking in winter

Tonight I woke
to the sound of fury

the sky splits open
like women giving birth

to rain, to pebbles
to the things we touch and flinch

tonight I woke
to the sound of fury

tin houses holding
the pitter-patter

of drops, the sky cries again

yet those who are under it
 receive the lashes

those shaken houses
with foundations of sand

built on frowning fathers
drowning mothers


tonight I woke
to the sound of fury

washing earth
like women giving birth

to the next generation
that rises out of mud


Your photo is framed black
the women weep
come back, even for a second

they say when the prayers rise
get across the river

come back the women say
but your photo is framed black

this halloween

Heart of a mouse
you have the skin of a lion
hard to say how much our costumes fool us

among cigarettes, he offers air

drags and drags of cigarettes
he could have offered cleaner air
instead of ash in your lungs

this is what they don't tell you
about love
that it lingers on and it hurts

like one walks into a hurricane
with shorts on and a fan at hand

this is how you learn to ward off evil
with little talismans
carved out of smoke and ash

this is what they don't tell you about lust
that it is smaller around your head
but it grows and grows
like deep-rooted trees. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Time of death, a number

I hate this time, between the afternoon and the night
she tells me, leans her head forward
it was with a shower of stone and hail

a shower of hell and fire
I hate this time, she repeats,
between afternoon and the night

the time I lost, the time I recount
in reverse
when he died, untimely, unduly
this destiny

Nostalgia, once more

Like hands gripping on your throat
like night-waking, this flame of days that do not end
the desire to be everywhere and nowhere;
a piece of the past dipped in the present

of your flesh

You speak of sons the way you speak about trees
branches and extensions
out of your own flesh, this chaos
this sweetness, this over-flowing sense of devotion
combined into a walking image
of your biggest failure and your best success

Friday, October 20, 2017

A penny

At the bottom of the fountain,
where the goldfish swim in peace
a penny, for the times you say:
for your thoughts, a penny
for re-visitation of same destination, a coin
for the future, a memory of a penny thrown in an old fountain

The shortest distance

You say, the shortest distance to a woman's affection
is her cellphone
let it ring, then, this mystery box

& all will be right with the world

You speak of death
I speak of the ways you can stand still
when calamity sheds her hair around you
lets fall loose the curls like leaves

you speak of death
but I speak of opportunity to live
maybe the walls have not darkened yet around me
maybe I have not seen enough hospital beds

you speak of a fight
I speak of a road to run, woodlands and birdsong
you tell me that bravery is born with one like wonder
I tell you bravery is gained, like a cape

one minute at a time
you speak of tired bones and aching shoulders
I hold you close and know, no matter the difference
all will be right with the world

Iowa city, in memory

The fall with its colors 
Canada geese flying in the Tom & Jerry patterns, 
The English V the Arabic 7 
Corn-fields and grilled cheese sandwiches 
Red glasses by the river,
Midnight evacuations, hold your passport and run
Words, words, friends and utmost kindness
Iowa city, a year later, in memory

lines that ran away from me

-theft, like other people, escaped me
- when I least expected
- the thought that ran to the edge of the world
- there was a song about a tree
- once was, there once was not
- it is not the end of tales, their beginnings
- you speak a lot like I do, with a borrowed tongue
- city of stone and ash, keep me
- scribbled down diaries that contain the universe
- this fate, these lines, the jumble
- the words that connect, the lines that let go.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

our trees, our names

The trees I carved in my childhood
turn to tell me
they have swallowed the names

Our voice

Look! the amount of minutes you spend
voicing other people's concerns
. but failure to voice, your own

Friday, October 13, 2017


Why grow roots when wings can lift you up,
but why develop wings when you can just stay rooted in earth
why then, this struggle to be one thing over the other
you are the world but settle in a piece of ground

Fear 101

It is the same touch
of the waves that shake inside of you
when you do not recall you came near water


In my palm, your heart beat
it felt like a fluttering
like the first time I held a baby in my arms

there's something about smaller creatures
a thought of a childhood
lost at sea

sunbird, traveler
you take my honey
to feed the flowers growing in other lands

sunbird, take my song then
away from the walls that choke me
from the stale air and the starless night
to the sun, the master of the day

wild running

Duckling's feet
I cannot spare you the speed
you need to learn that wild running
gets you nowhere, if you don't look
straight ahead


says the tyrant who knows
how to leave a blank between the two sides
arguing for the right to breathe

say the women who have
severed victory in the name of freedom

the women who nod their heads
with the knowledge that if these heads were raised
the world will shake with vigor

congratulations says the men
who have deprived
women of their womanhood

thinking that only body parts
complete the whole
like a broken up puzzle

match and arrive
at a perfect depiction

a boy
a girl
a boy again, maybe both

a boy with a heart of a girl
a girl with the heart of a boy
an identity so like water, lucid

congratulations, they say
those who know nothing of the stories
of murder by gender

on exile by first and last name
they deem a celebration
our pain

says those who hear the news late
say grace for the souls revived
because it is easier to celebrate
than to demonstrate fury.

a waiting game

it does no service
this waiting
for the grass has grown
but your chair remains empty

Brothers n blood

Don't call us brothers
when your sons murdered our sons
one bright afternoon
when the world turned and there was no one watching

how simple was the act of blood
can happen in the name of an idea
that was aborted soon
with the language of threat and danger

don't shake hands with the devils
then ask why you got burns over your arms
because fire knows its ways
to the hand that expects it most

don't say to us, bring this,
take that, ad if we only live to serve
this does not do you service
that those you hurt can erase the pain

with the holding of hands
the waving of flags, marching of bands
bullet proof cars, treated acne scars
these are the ideas left in your head

in mine, in the wounds festering
over a decade of brothers slaugthering one another
bearing words open like knives ends
to bear the weight of the world

don't call the rest of us brothers
when your sons murdered our sons
with the language of threat and danger
splitting us into territory
when we were born from the same mother
that cannot stand her ground, brothers.

Back to the chaos

One word, unleashes
the thousand questions and one
a hurricane in the brain

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Do not save them

You are not born a woman
for one reason, to hatch an egg

to make of someone a human
you are not born a woman for a sole reason

you are not born a woman
to make meets end or to make ends meet

your body is not a bridge
to be trampled upon where they cross but you stay

so you are not born a woman of service
saying yes and no like you would exchange old cans

your words are precious
made from rare gems

you are not born woman to reap
what others have planted in your absence

to make you claim bad crop
worse confusion by the tongue

you were not born woman to be someone's hero
only mother, wife, handing over dreams for your life

you were not born to save someone
don't let him tell you are a savior

First rain

falls gently like it's not seen earth
falls urgently like children's laughter
the first rain that patters over my head

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

recreate yourself

Like an old rye that sheds its outer layer
recreate yourself
after death


How many times do we have to resort to Orthodox measures
to clear out the air
these unorthodox ways;
the gin in your lap,
the lack of prayer over my lips
this destiny.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

An agreement

Has it occurred to you, she asks
the many times you have said: me too,
in a single conversation with him,
the boy with the dark eyes?