Archive for February, 2010
Amazing how you go back to poems you read a long time ago and feel like they could have been written by you, today. This is a poem I have loved since I was a teenager. It never ceases to be true, somehow. All day today, I have avoided the sun, the reality of life, commitments, I even left my phone in another house and holed up in a room, dark, thinking of all the things one must not do for a love which does not exist in a relationship that has never been. Fortunately, poetry is always there, and can do what it does best, reassure you that you are not alone. I love Alice Walker. What a woman.
Did This Happen to Your Mother?
Did Your Sister Throw Up a Lot?
I love a man who is not worth
Did this happen to your mother?
Did your grandmother wake up
for no good reason
in the middle of the night?
I thought love could be controlled.
Only behaviour can be controlled.
By biting your tongue purple
rather than speak.
Mauling your lips.
Obliterating his number
to be able to phone.
Love has made me sick.
Did your sister throw up a lot?
Did your cousin complain
of a painful knot
in her back?
Did you aunt always
seem to have something else
troubling her mind?
I thought love would adapt itself
to my needs.
But needs grow too fast;
they come up like weeds.
Through cracks in the conversation.
Through silences in the dark.
Through everything you thought was concrete.
Such needful love has to be chopped out
or forced to wilt back,
poisoned by disapproval
from its own soil.
This is bad news, for the conservationist.
My hand shakes before this killing.
My stomach sits jumpy in my chest. My chest is the Grand Canyon
over the world.
Whoever he is, he is not worth all this.
And I will never
unclench my teeth long enough
to tell him so.
I would like to be anywhere but where I am now. In your arms perhaps. Only if you are smiling.
I WOULD LIKE
I would like
to be born
in every country,
have a passport
for them all
all foreign offices
be every fish
in every ocean
and every dog
in the streets of the world.
I don’t want to bow down
before any idols
or play at being
a Russian Orthodox church hippie,
but I would like to plunge
deep into Lake Baikal
and surface snorting
why not in the Mississippi?
In my damned beloved universe
I would like
to be a lonely weed,
but not a delicate Narcissus
kissing his own mug
in the mirror.
I would like to be
any of God’s creatures
right down to the last mangy hyena-
but never a tyrant
or even the cat of a tyrant.
I would like to be
reincarnated as a man
in any image:
a victim of prison tortures,
a homeless child in the slums of Hong Kong,
a living skeleton in Bangladesh,
a holy beggar in Tibet,
a black in Cape Town,
in the image of Rambo.
The only people whom I hate
are the hypocrites-
in heavy syrup.
I would like to lie
under the knives of all the surgeons in the world,
be hunchbacked, blind,
suffer all kinds of diseases,
wounds and scars,
be a victim of war,
or a sweeper of cigarette butts,
just so a filthy microbe of superiority
doesn’t creep inside.
I would not like to be in the elite,
nor, of course,
in the cowardly herd,
nor be a guard dog of that herd,
nor a shepherd,
sheltered by that herd.
And I would like happiness,
but not at the expense of the unhappy,
and I would like freedom,
but not at the expense of the unfree.
I would like to love
all the women in the world,
and I would like to be a woman, too-
Men have been diminished
by Mother Nature.
Why couldn’t we give motherhood
If an innocent child
below his heart,
man would probably
not be so cruel.
I would like to be man’s daily bread-
a cup of rice
for a Vietnamese woman in mourning,
in a Neapolitan workers’ trattoria,
or a tiny tube of cheese
in orbit round the moon.
Let them eat me,
let them drink me,
only let my death
be of some use.
I would like to belong to all times,
shock all history so much
that it would be amazed
what a smart aleck I was.
I would like to bring Nefertiti
to Pushkin in a troika.
I would like to increase
the space of a moment
so that in the same moment
I could drink vodka with fishermen in Siberia
and sit together with Homer,
except, of course,
-dance to the tom-toms in the Congo,
-strike at Renault,
-chase a ball with Brazilian boys
at Copacabana Beach.
I would like to know every language,
like the secret waters under the earth,
and do all kinds of work at once.
I would make sure
that one Yevtushenko was merely a poet,
the second-an underground fighter
I couldn’t say where
for security reasons,
the third-a student at Berkeley,
the fourth-a jolly Georgian drinker,
and the fifth-
maybe a teacher of Eskimo children in Alaska,
a young president,
somewhere, say, modestly speaking, in Sierra Leone,
would still be shaking a rattle in his stroller,
and the tenth…
For me it’s not enough to be myself,
let me be everyone!
usually has a double,
but God was stingy
with the carbon paper,
and in his Paradise Publishing Corporation
made a unique copy of me.
But I shall muddle up
all God’s cards-
I shall confound God!
I shall be in a thousand copies to the end of my days,
so that the earth buzzes with me,
and computers go berserk
in the world census of me.
I would like to fight on all your barricades,
dying each night
like an exhausted moon,
and resurrecting each morning
like a newborn sun,
with an immortal soft spot-fontanel-
on my head.
And when I die,
a smart-aleck Siberian Francois Villon,
do not lay me in the earth
but in our Russian, Siberian earth,
on a still-green hill,
where I first felt
that I was
Translated by the author
Dearest friends, foes and poetry lovers alike, we are happy to invite you to the third installment of the Dubai Poeticians. The group has grown in size, and even though we wont have the lyrical magic of the Human Writes Project which graced us with words out of this world last time, we do have some new poets and the circle of sharing
stories with you is expanding. Rewa, Sarah, Kevin, Nigel, Frank and Rick, as well as myself, will be reading poetry based on the theme of “love/desire”. I am currently also luring two more poets to come join us and if you have any ideas on who would fit in with the mix, email me.
Please do send this invite forward to any friends you may have who would enjoy some spicy poetry.
(Could be a good event to invite that boy/girl you secretly like but are too shy to ask out, nothing
like a well-timed comment after a sexy poem to send a message, I say…)
Location: The Shelter
Date: Tuesday the 2nd of march
Time: 7:30 pm
See you there!
Love and poems,
Edmund is one of our oldest and most consistent readers. He has a beautiful smile and sparkly eyes. He writes arabic poems that make us blush, cry and sigh. Thats a good thing. He says he is working on a book, I am personally prepared to kick his butt if he doesnt. He is all that is good about young writers in Beirut exploring their language and other cultures as poetry unique. Enjoy this morsel. I will post my favorite, later.
لا تذهب، خذ معك جسداً تفتت
خذ زهر حديقتنا
ارسم له صيفاً آخر
ارسل شوارعك ناحية القلب عندما تضيع عناوينك .
استبِق ضجراً يجرّد الأحاسيس من ألوانها، فهنا تذبُل وتُنسى في إنائك
وتختفي الأجنحة الزرقاء، وتستيقظ الأميرة النائمة قبل وصولك.
لا تذهب، خذ معك فنجان القهوة، الفنجان “الشفة”
خذ طاولة المطبخ واسأل أمّك عن زيتون الموسم الجديد:
” هل ما زال حدّاً؟ هل ما زال ينتظر؟ ”
اترك وجهك المتعب في المرآة، اترك صلاتك على فلتر سيكارة
امشِ وحولك ما تريد، كيس كلل، فردة حلق، أبيض من بشرتها، رعشة برد قبل المرض.
لا تذهب، خذ معك قصائد لا قيمة لها،
خذ ولداً يركض خلف ظلّه، خذ سيفاً من دفاتر العرب وافتح في السماء كوّة صغيرة ليتبدّل الهواء.
دندن أغانٍ يحبّها الحب،
دندن أغانٍ تحبّها أنت،
دندن أغانٍ تأخذها معك.
خذ هروبك الدائم معك،
غبارك، وليمتك، حبيبتك،
ولا تترك أثراً لمرورك، حركتك البطيئة
كلل يديك بالغار واقتحم أبواب الجنّة
أرفسها وادخل، لا تستأذن حامل المفاتيح، لا تستأذن أحداً.
لا تذهب، خذ معك وجعاً، علّقه كمعطف عندما تصل،
ألقِ سلاماً بارداً في بيت النار
وراقب أبا النواس يكسّر الأنوار في كؤوس النبيذ، ولا تخف فالأرض تنتهي خلف أسوار سجنك.
لا تذهب، خذ معك عاصفة تتكسّر خلف الباب،
خذ معك كمشة حزن، ضعها في جيبك، ولا تذرف دمعة واحدة قبل أن تصل إلى سريرك.
تذكّر كيف كنت تركع في هذا السرير لتلقي سلام على مريم، لترسل لها قبلة قبل أن تنام،
تذكّر أنّك كنت تنام، ضع وجهك تحت المخدّة وتذكّر الدفء، تذكّر وأنت ذاهب صابون الحلاقة على شاربي والدك، جريدة الصباح،”عروسة” الزعتر، رائحة الملعب،
تذكّر لتبتسم أو لتدمع لا فرق ما دمت تنسى فالطفولة أصبحت لعنة الذاهبين.
لا تذهب، خذ معك أنفاسك المتقطعة،
خذ رمل المكان وانثره مثل سحرٍ على وجوه الغائبين
قبّل يديها وأنت تشمّها ملء الهواء، قبّل يديها لترسم لك شفتيك، قبّلها.
في إحدى الزوايا المظلمة رجل يبحث عن جانحيه، امرأة تداوي جرحها بالبكاء.
في إحدى الزوايا المظلمة رجل يسقط من جنّته مراراً، امرأة تروي ذاكرتها بالبكاء.
في إحدى الزوايا المظلمة تنمو الكلمات مالحة
Again I am sitting here, in the Arts Museum in Sharjah, waiting for our crew to finish filming some beautiful shots of the surrounding heritage area. I like production. I like the action difficult parts and the low key waiting around sometimes parts. I like cameras and sound gear. I like mad directors. I like the rush and stress. I like the movement. I digress from poetry.
What to share with you today? Well, we are setting up a new reading for the Poeticians Dubai. It has grown so much beyond my expectations. People were warning me that a poetry group in Dubai just would not fly, but it is soaring. Everyday new poets write to me, people have begun ASKING and DEMANDING we have a new reading…Its very exciting. Our next reading is probably March 2nd, at the Shelter, and the theme is Lust/Love…I wonder if I am still speaking to myself. Our poetician Tina Fish tells me she reads our blog so I’m not totally alone out here. I will leave you with a poem. Hmm, which one?
This one. I wrote it last week for Suheir Hammad. If you don’t know who she is, google and youtube her, right now. Like, now.
For Suheir Hammad, gorgeous.
This is how poets are born.
Sit in back rooms of secluded structures while a single mic blasts
your sorrow from where you buried it
dredges everything you hid to fill this damp room with minerals precious
of coming home to a place you never knew
you never knew you could love this hard
listen to open veins reading the personal
a light wraps bodies tethered free
shed the person you wore in the sunlight outside
or a nighttime laugh you sent out to the city before
this room becomes all of Manhattan
and her windows.
This is how love is spun,
glance into the eyes of someone you could touch beyond hands and skin
repeat words wordless burrowed you could flood out
a kiss has you grappling for a dictionary of terms uncoined
and one day, a poem, a poem comes to you, says all you can ascribe
to one moment, one person, fills a universe
you say, this is what I wanted to say
this is what I have always wanted to say.
The person you love understands
but no matter
firmly in its place poetry has rooted explanation
this is the life blooms
deciphered and true.
This is how a poet is born.
One of the most endearing and warming sights is a friend who works for the comfort of her 12 yr old whom I love. It has been a disheartening week, I am pondering this thing we call love, the futility of it, the differences between having the comfort of slow love over years and being alone, independent, safe.
Are we safe without someone sharing our life? Is it better to guard against trust?
Will I ever have children?
I know everyone thinks about this. Human range is limited.
But, few sights as beautiful as seeing my friend bake cupcakes for her daughter.
School Trip Nights.
For D and N, warm, laughing and whole.
This is the slow burn of loving beyond sanity
up at 12 eighteen at dark making
cupcakes for a daughter who couldn’t
get that recipe right
to not embarrass her in front of friends at school who
eat chocolate as if it were just there
as if tired hands didn’t bake till the eyes went hot and
This is the slow burning of love you carry to a grave
the desire to show your child what
a mother is, what a child is, what
this love can rise in your center like
hot sweet yeast
crumbling off the edges, a toil of last minute rescue for her wide eyes
this is the slow burning of love, after dinner, in silence
we smell the vanilla of her young smile in the morning
teeth brown and comfort,
this is love
this is a mother,
we bake and a child learns of the inside of a heart
a child learns of all that matters.
The most luminous purple-flowered trees, a color on the pale of absence.
You Called Me Corazón
That was enough
for me to forgive you.
To spirit a tiger
from its cell.
Called me corazón
in that instant before
I let go the phone
back to its cradle.
Your voice small.
Heat of your eyes,
how I would’ve placed
my mouth on each.
and the word blazed
like a branch of jacaranda.
Or a Mexican. I stumbled on the name Sandra Cisneros on one of my favorite blogs today.
The blog is: http://eethelbertmiller1.blogspot.com
The poet Sandra is feisty. In my drained and dampened mood this week, this week of curious sadness and a sense of defeat, she put back a smile in my body with this poem. I can identify. I remember loving.
Have you ever loved like this?
It’s the only way.
You Bring Out the Mexican in Me
You bring out the Mexican in me.
The hunkered thick dark spiral.
The core of a heart howl.
The bitter bile.
The tequila lágrimas on Saturday all
through next weekend Sunday.
You are the one I’d let go the other loves for,
surrender my one-woman house.
Allow you red wine in bed,
even with my vintage lace linens.
You bring out the Dolores del Río in me.
The Mexican spitfire in me.
The raw navajas, glint and passion in me.
The raise Cain and dance with the rooster-footed devil in me.
The spangled sequin in me.
The eagle and serpent in me.
The mariachi trumpets of the blood in me.
The Aztec love of war in me.
The fierce obsidian of the tongue in me.
The berrinchuda, bien-cabrona in me.
The Pandora’s curiosity in me.
The pre-Columbian death and destruction in me.
The rainforest disaster, nuclear threat in me.
The fear of fascists in me.
Yes, you do. Yes, you do.
You bring out the colonizer in me.
The holocaust of desire in me.
The Mexico City ‘85 earthquake in me.
The Popocatepetl/Ixtacchiuatl in me.
The tidal wave of recession in me.
The Agustín Lara hopeless romantic in me.
The barbacoa taquitos on Sunday in me.
The cover the mirrors with cloth in me.
Sweet twin. My wicked other,
I am the memory that circles your bed nights,
that tugs you taut as moon tugs ocean.
I claim you all mine,
arrogant as Manifest Destiny.
I want to rattle and rent you in two.
I want to defile you and raise hell.
I want to pull out the kitchen knives,
dull and sharp, and whisk the air with crosses.
Me sacas lo mexicana en mi,
like it or not, honey.
You bring out the Uled-Nayl in me.
The stand-back-white-bitch-in me.
The switchblade in the boot in me.
The Acapulco cliff diver in me.
The Flecha Roja mountain disaster in me.
The dengue fever in me.
The ¡Alarma! murderess in me.
I could kill in the name of you and think
it worth it. Brandish a fork and terrorize rivals,
female and male, who loiter and look at you,
languid in your light. Oh,
I am evil. I am the filth goddess Tlazoltéotl.
I am the swallower of sins.
The lust goddess without guilt.
The delicious debauchery. You bring out
the primordial exquisiteness in me.
The nasty obsession in me.
The corporal and venial sin in me.
The original transgression in me.
Red ocher. Yellow ocher. Indigo. Cochineal.
Piñon. Copal. Sweetgrass. Myrrh.
All you saints, blessed and terrible,
Virgen de Guadalupe, diosa Coatlicue,
I invoke you.
Quiero ser tuya. Only yours. Only you.
Quiero amarte. Aarte. Amarrarte.
Love the way a Mexican woman loves. Let
me show you. Love the only way I know how.
—Sandra Cisneros, 1994
Nigel is one of our new Dubai poeticians, he is a great instigator of literary adventures and his dedication to spreading awareness on the Israeli Occupation is something I find very moving, unique and necessary. I thank him for coming forward and sharing his work with us, and for his strong words seeking justice. Rock on.
Our kittens delight their fleeting youth with balls
of wool or string to chase through cosy halls,
to pounce on plants that cling to table-tops
then gorge on leaves like locusts stripping crops.
Young Bethlehem cats chase shadow-mice through the shells of houses,
Ramla cats still hide in holes in spattered red-rag blouses,
Tulkaram cats feast on dead flesh that slops out from foundations,
while Jenin cats await the rescue of the late United Nations.
And when they’ve spent their hours in kittens’ games
to pounce and leap and pad the luscious flowers concealing mines
or play with string or razor wire, the claims
of each sweet-smelling clot of ripped-out crimson Columbines,
in time are paid in full by a generation:
a glass of honeyed-milk; a line of blood – poured out in libation.
Fouad was kind enough to send me one of his contributions to the Poeticians in Beirut. I hope he will continue to send us Arabic poetry. Thank you.
من في حقول القمح بين الأقحوان
من في تراتيل الرياح، حبيبتي
من في الصباح، حبيبتي
من في كروم الشمس،
في خمر الضياء، حبيبتي
من في صلاة مؤذنٍ عند العشاء…
من في نسيمات المساء.. حبيبتي
من في سحابات الربيع الحالمات
من في سلامات الطيور النازحات
من في ظلال الياسمين، حبيبتي
من في دموع الراحلين، حبيبتي
من ضحكة الأولاد
من قيثارة الأعياد غير حبيبتي
في كل زاوية من الدنيا
على كل الدروب
في كل لؤلؤة تزور
شباك صياد المغيب
وأنا الغريب بوحدتي
وحبيبتي في الأرض
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