The Poeticians.

Poets sharing words from the Middle East to haunt the lyrical world.

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Archive for March, 2010

Giving up.

I have been hearing so many friends telling me lately that they gave up on love. I guess its hard not to feel that way after going through one unsuccessful affair after the other. They also tell me our world is no longer made for long term commitments. Temptation is too easy and too available and we have been become used to living for our own selfish interests.
Ever since I turned thirty, I have been plagued with the question: is the daily settled life with some partner superior to the wandering frenzied yet possibly lonely one? Should we have a partner even if we start bickering, get bored, the passion dies down, we take each other for granted? Or should we be single creatures, lone sharks in the night, hunting various opportunities and then moving on, having satisfied a certain kind of bloodlust? The quick excitement of new people, new challenges, new places…or the comfort of knowing you have someone to call for any small emergency? How important is it to have someone to hug everyday? I cannot make up my mind on this question. I do not know which kind of woman I am.
Which one are you?

I guess this following poem came before the confusion set in.

Exit Music

03/2008,
Beirut.

I give up your luminous black eyes
I unleash the serenity of your smile to
hands new strangers plenty
I give up your kindness
I give up your fluidity
and lean edges to softness new strangers plenty
I remain empty
you could not love me
there were moments spent in wonder
at the glint of your face
scruffy hands pained tireless hands of power
inside me
there were moments of moans primal
moments of silence heavy

my bed is now empty

I give up your sadness I’m sorry I couldn’t gather
I give up your harsh laughter, a frenzy
of exit signals pulsing in your haven
in your sanctuary
I give up your skin to new oceans
and long limbed women chanting
hips breasts grinding to beckon you
their mad hair tempting
a virgin princess in distress
a wanton gypsy

I give up your music
that beating heart we shared
that language to use to bare
to show you cared
I give up your beauty, rare
elusive and specific in its secrecy
I give you up
lover
you could not know me
we make love in different planets
the collision of your lips on mine
brutal sexy
infrequent and alight with electricity
is but passing spark
is sheer fantasy
is delicacy
temporary

I want to hold a hand in the rain
I want the shared need of another in our daily agony
I want to explode in short circuit
fires of daily company
I want kinship and respect
and vulnerability,
I want a morning after morning to eternity

I give you up to her
whoever she is

Love will come of its own choosing
love will seek me out
one sunny day
in a whisper
softly

Frank!!!

Listening to Frank Dullaghan reading his poetry is a new found Dubai Pleasure. His gentle and full voice is warming, at times funny, and a welcome addition to the Poeticians. I thank him for his smiling and serene presence at our readings.

Seeing The Light
by Frank Dullaghan.

How sophisticated these girls are,
thirteen or fourteen years old,
sitting in this coffee shop eating pastries,
conspiring together with their dark eyes
so that everyone else here feels like outsiders.
I swear to God, one says in her South Kerry lilt.
And whatever it is she attests to
they all bubble into laughter.

I broke the surface of the book I was reading,
to take notice of them – full of themselves
the way most of us are empty of ourselves,
throwing their light about this room
like they had batteries to spare,
globules of it landing on tables
where old men mutter to newspapers,
where a woman checks that she hasn’t changed
in a little pocket mirror.

And one globule touches down on my table
between my poetry book and the salt cellar,
sits there pulsing, excited by its own luminance.
It would seem that I’m the only one to notice.
The girls have no regard,
incandescent as they are in their high voltage,
the only impossibility the old men believe in
is their own, and the young woman
reflects only on herself.

I pick up my gift
and place it on my tongue,
looking for that particular wisdom of youth
that would make everything possible again.

Maria, a love affair.

Maria is a whirlwind of words that work up a dust storm of language evoking desire, longing, breathlessness and beirut moments we can all relate to. I thank her for joining our little band and for her poems.
And for her love affair with Beirut.

Love Affair

I cannot remember if
it was you who loved
me, or if it was I
who had a dark
love affair with your
city.

I cannot remember what
it was like to take you for
granted, with your alleys smelling like
trampled down
green, tobacco-laced
humidity, like
home, lingering like
the perfect nonchalant
evening.

I remember what it was
like when your only
sound was the voices of
young people wanting to
leave you, always wanting to
get out, to travel over
seas, far, far away from
you, to never come back, to
never have any doubts about the
necessity to turn their
backs on you.

I remember what it
was like to despise you, a
city impossible in its
bullet-holed
buildings, contradictory with its
flower vendors walking about,
throwing cigarette butts on your
ground. I
remember what it was like to
slam my wrists on my steering
wheel in your sun. I remember the
price I paid for
loving your son.

And then I left. We all
did. We assumed you’d always
stand tall under your smog,
we assumed we’d always
have time to live in the
land of Fairouz’s
songs. Having been
under seas seven times till
now, we never thought
twice about how you would
resurface with your narrow
winding roads, caverns haunted
by all your fleeing souls. But
with each despoiling
war, you
could be slipping a
little further away. And
even though we leave
you, we find ourselves
breaking promises to other
lovers, always
coming back for more.

Jehan, oh Jehan, How I love your words.

Jehan is one of the delights of running the Poetician gang. Even though she ran off and is now living between kabul and nine other locations, I still love her. And her big eyes. And blue shoes. And small poems that leave me wondering how she can say so much in three lines while I need to ramble for 6 pages.
From all over the ME, but specifically from Palestine, comes a girl with so much attention to the unsaid in our world, and for her efforts to read with us in different countries and for her shy smiles and straight bangs, I thank Jehan and hug her virtually.

SplitEnds
by Jehan Bseiso

Your last note said ‘his name is Adam, he does not remind me of you.’
Postcards and letters,
Some open, some lying with their face down on the kitchen table.

I unlearn reading.
Alphabetics can be such mathematics. And I was never good at counting.

Remember the woman in the tube who thought she was Um Kulthoum?

I never let my thoughts wander anymore, but they touch your face from time to time.
Memory, a vault that the mind can open only in dreams.

Accidental remembering, or not being able to forget her voice

thick, heavy: ‘Ya Habibi…’

I pin my hope down with a tack.
On the fridge, a photo of you with a big fish you caught.
You look small.

You were always a fan of the dramatic, avant-garde theatre, in the style of Gertrude Stein.
I prefer her quiet poetry.

This just one of the ways in which we didn’t meet. There are others.

Nobuntu- a new and radiant poetician.

A perfect example of why I love the poeticians is our newcomer, Nobuntu.

She wrote to me out of the blue saying she was inspired by the readings we are having and would like to attend. She said she had thought she had left that life behind. That life of poetry. That we remind her of who she used to be.

She came to a reading and was too shy to say hello after. I encouraged her to write something for our third event, themed Lust and Love. And so she did. And she was worried. And I was worried that I pushed her to something she will hate.

And then the lady roared. She let out a poem so sexy, so strong, so well delivered the audience sat in shock and joy and clapped and clapped. Yes. I will never forget that. Welcome back, to the new old you. Warrior!

Here is one of her older poems:

Black girl

Black girl with many issues

Throw away your box of tissues

The time has come for emancipation

Sing your song of celebration.

How long shall you cry, wail, woe is i?

Black girl raise your chin up high!

Like the peacocks that grace your garden, walk tall

Like the lioness that protects its pride.

From the mountains of Kilimanjaro

To the rapids of Victoria Falls

Leaping to the edges of Morocco

Black girl your voice will resound.

No longer will you be the Pregnant

Barefoot, mother of ten cooking supper

In the kitchen, broken, being beaten

You my child, a priestess of the highest order

You my child a fertility Goddess

You my child a descendant of the great warrior uShaka

They scoff, but flee when the lioness roars.

Black girl, I cradled you from birth

Shielded you when all they did was hate.

Watched over you when you blossomed.

When your anger reared its ugly face, I pruned you.

Today Black girl in your stride, today, the horn of Africa

Looks up and smiles, a tiny seed, unwearyingly

Watered with love, strengthened with character

Fertilized with hate and cultivated with sorrow.

Endings.

From my new book, from the chapter Lust. Something I wrote a year ago, but I guess endings are all the same. How does one know if a break up is the specific one that’s going to haunt you for the rest of your life?
How sad it is that the hurt one feels at the beginning of a break-up fades after a while…would we survive intense mourning for extended time?
It makes me wonder what kind of love one has to experience in order to emotionally wear black forever.

When my mother died, my grandmother never wore another bright color ever again, not for the ten years she lived after.
How do you mourn?

Endings
04/2009,
Dubai.

2- I thought of you
your body moving in mine
that trail of caresses I wanted never to end
I took that map to lands you knew not
spoken in languages you knew not
with friends, with love, with myself alone
I thought of you
I took this body wasted by absence
by her presence to lands you cared not for
to the weary images to the ancient homes of our people
to my childhood and the loss of mother
to the grinding old age of my father
to the question that is my future
to the harmony of
love I found in lands separate from you, lands distant
lands you cared for no longer, and
I thought of you when the night crawled into
my bed, and I thought of you
when the sun snatched the dream from my hands
and I thought of you when the stars told me stories
of visions that left me in wonder
and I thought of you when my conversations stilted
and when silence provided an escape
for the sadness
that we ingested
into our bodies of heaviness
into our bodies of hunger
I thought of you

I found protection from your glances, from
this love we never protected from
half chances, and the nights were half ablaze
turgid with thunder
the rain kept me wet in the dry heaves of this battle I retched
and I thought of you as the skies opened
to let the sky wash us clean of this
rancid daily grind
of this inner voice that cuts off my breath
every night
that lets me smolder

And against that
against the slow decay of realization
that I shared your dark skin
with strangers
against the sharp brittle lightening punch to the gut
there is no continent wide enough
no land distant enough
no retreat safe enough
no matter how high the fence
no matter how far the border.

Women’s day.

It would take all night, into March 9th, for me to write about the unending amount of respect I have for women around the world who fight for basic human rights, everyday. The way I am moved by the wonderwoman everydaywoman supernaturalwoman who gives life, enjoys life, learns from and teaches life, and when appropriate, has the power to end a life. I can’t help but think of all the ways our world would be different if we had more control, and not from behind the scenes. One of the worst proverbs I used to hear growing up was “Behind every great man is a woman”. Fuck that.
I say we look forward with the strength of the thousands of women before us who died chanting out their voices to say, NO.
I am such a full complete person, I am whole, rooted, ever flowing, a beam of light that does not understand the meaning of the words “You can’t”.
So are you.

Here is a poem for my unborn daughter.

DAUGHTER
Nicole Blackman

One day I’ll give birth to a tiny baby girl
and when she’s born she’ll scream and I’ll make sure
she never stops.

I will kiss her before I lay her down
and will tell her a story so she knows
how it is and how it must be for her to survive.

I’ll tell her about the power of water
the seduction of paper
the promise of gasoline
and the hope of blood.

I’ll teach her to shave her eyebrows and
mark her skin.

I’ll teach her that her body is
her greatest work of art.

I’ll tell her to light things on fire
and keep them burning.

I’ll teach her that the fire will not consume her,
that she must take it and use it.

I’ll tell her to be tri-sexual, to try anything
to sleep with, fight with, pray with anyone,
just as long as she feels something.

I’ll help her do her best work when it rains.
I’ll tell her to reinvent herself every 28 days.
I’ll teach her to develop all her selves,
the courageous ones,
the smart ones,
the dreaming ones
the fast ones.

I’ll teach her that she has an army inside her
that can save her life.

I’ll tell her to say Fuck like other people say The
and when people are shocked
to ask them why they so fear a small quartet
of letters.

I’ll make sure she always carries a pen
so she can take down the evidence.
If she has no paper, I’ll teach her to
write everything down on her tongue
write it on her thighs.

I’ll help her to see that she will not find God
or salvation in a dark brick building
built by dead men.

I’ll explain to her that it’s better to regret the things
she has done than the things she hasn’t.

I’ll teach her to write her manifestos
on cocktail napkins.
I’ll say she should make men lick her enterprise.

I’ll teach her to talk hard.
I’ll tell her that her skin is the
most beautiful dress she will ever wear.

I’ll tell her that people must earn the right
to use her nickname,
that forced intimacy is an ugly thing.

I’ll make her understand that she is worth more
with her clothes on.

I’ll tell her that when the words finally flow too fast
and she has no use for a pen
that she must quit her job
run out of the house in her bathrobe,
leaving the door open.
I’ll teach her to follow the words.

I’ll tell her to stand up
and head for the door
after she makes love.
When he asks her to
stay she’ll say
she’s got to
go.

I’ll tell her that when she first bleeds
when she is a woman,
to go up to the roof at midnight,
reach her hands up to the sky and scream.

I’ll teach her to be whole, to be holy,
to be so much that she doesn’t even
need me anymore.
I’ll tell her to go quickly and never come back.
I will make her stronger than me.

I’ll say to her never forget what they did to you
and never let them know you remember.

Never forget what they did to you
and never let them know you remember.

Poetician lust and love!

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.