Archive for March, 2011
My favorite type of poems. You dont know why you are reading, but you keep reading, and it builds, like a love affair you are not sure you should keep pursuing, but you do, and it builds, and sometimes the lines are blurry, and you dont understand a few words or why his eyes looked at you like that, and you keep going, and the kisses keep coming and your body is full of light, and the light hits the screen and you read some more, possibly even not breathing right, the way he crushed you in sleep and forgetfullness and you are still reading, in the shadowy dusk of an afternoon in an office, where there is too much laughter and yet you are cold. And the last line tells you why you did all this, and you can stop.
How funny you are today New York
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
and St. Bridget’s steeple leaning a little to the left
here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
(I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
accepts me foolish and free
all I want is a room up there
and you in it
and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
for people to rub up against each other
and when their surgical appliances lock
they stay together
for the rest of the day (what a day)
I go by to check a slide and I say
that painting’s not so blue
where’s Lana Turner
she’s out eating
and Garbo’s backstage at the Met
everyone’s taking their coat off
so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
and the park’s full of dancers with their tights and shoes
in little bags
who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we’re all winning
the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
who moved to the country for fun
they moved a day too soon
even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
though in the wrong country
and all those liars have left the UN
the Seagram Building’s no longer rivalled in interest
not that we need liquor (we just like it)
and the little box is out on the sidewalk
next to the delicatessen
so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
while the sun is still shining
oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much
I thought Zen poems
were supposed to sound wise.
Now I’m going to buy
as much beer as five dollars
can buy and drink it
right here on the sofa.
The ineptitude of the soul in dealing with loss.
I was never good at math. You did this, then I did that, then you did this, then equations of differentiation inert.
How all this addition of time, and hands that clenched, is summed up in a hole, abyss.
I was never good at science. You touched me, and cells awakened, and I touched you, and the earth still moved.
How all this physical matter resulted in combustion, leaving pulverized steam I once licked off your skin, a world away.
I was never good at business, you gave this, and then I gave that, and you took again, and kept the fists open for gifts I never knew were precious.
How all this profit left us bereft, my waist a hollow sphere of foreign bank notes, useless.
But I was always good with words. And you, never with listening.
How the benediction fell dead on this gravesite of knowledge we once called love.
Why do we let poetry affect us so. What a madness of the spirit, what a communal letter to the world.
waiting for death
like a cat
that will jump on the
I am so very sorry for
she will see this
shake it once, then
it’s not my death that
worries me, it’s my wife
left with this
I want to
let her know
that all the nights
even the useless
and the hard
I ever feared to
can now be
Anyone ever read Mr Bukowski? With his dirty fingernails scraping the bodies of young women? With his beer belly and his inertia? With his nasty anecdotes and late night fuck fests with the great unwashed passers by? I had the immense joy (if it can be called that, the man singularly dashed all my hopes) of reading an entire book of his poems in Seattle two years ago. Yesterday I was introduced to the gem below by my lovely poetician room mate ,JJ, who will be showcased here asap as well.
Breakups all around us, sighs and tears for lovers, other new bodies that ignite slumbered senses, and the cycle of being Alone With Everybody never ends. Befitting this week.
Alone with Everybody
the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
and nobody finds the
crawling in and out
the bone and the
for more than
there’s no chance
we are all trapped
by a singular
nobody ever finds
the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill
Binmugahid is my friend and a reluctant poet. He prefers the possible poetry in 140 characters, and the smell and sight of shisha smoke to the microphone. Encouraged by our local community, he has now performed twice with the Dubai Poeticians and we sure hope he comes back for more, ups the ante, delivers more hardcore thoughts, does not self censor and finds a poetic voice within the storytelling. A brave man to put himself out there, I commend him on taking the time and energy to write poetics in a place many have given up on, opening up places within himself many keep shut, sharing with his community, many of them forgotten.
It’s not common that a poem has a
Table of contents,
but this one does
1-Explain your current situation
2-And then attempt justification.
3-Criticize yourself, brutally
4-In the process come to a realization
5-Perhaps mention the women
6-How they came and went
7-Explain the state of your heart,
8-In how many ways it was bent.
9-Ask if you are alone? Is this some lack of maturity?
10-Or it a curse of sorts, perhaps an ironic profundity?
11-Try to make sense of it all, see If this can be mended.
I’m in love again.
Suddenly, A woman walked into my life, and made all other women disappear
I gave up the former life, she gave me a vision that was clear.
I dreamt of love and lasting friendship, of dying in each others arms
I dreamt of the farm house, the cars and even the trap I’d setup for the mouse
I dreamt of plenty of boys and girls, playing in a garden with palm trees
I dreamt of everything, perhaps too much
of sneaking into the house for love making or maybe a home made brunch
she too was dreaming, in details like mine if not more
And then our dreams collided, when lady reality knocked our door
She came as a guest at first, quick visits here and there
But soon she became a regular, every minute she was there
She left something in the relationship, doubt, fear or mistrust
The sparks were now a bonfire, the breeze was now a gust.
She left us battling our own fears, of being betrayed, being lost into the other
She fooled us into thinking, if this doesn’t work out, we can always find another.
And then it all imploded the happy ending that was to come, was now no more.
Were there signs? Sure, there was plenty of writing was on the wall,
But we never cared to erase it, it was always the other person’s chore.
I’m now critical of love, jaded, insecure and unsure
And then a woman walks into my life, casually, unlike before
And I’m in love again
This is a woman I can adore, she has no dreams but me, No detailed plans, not even a country.
I find myself a new man, the object of all her affections
She tells me sweet things about me, that make me doubt my mirror’s reflection
I question her motives, her feelings, even her womanhood
No woman can be this sweet, nothing can be this good
I freak, I panic I get royally scared
I search for things that are wrong with her, things that are not even there
Things.. That I didn’t even care about before
So I disappear, I act weird, I go far when she comes near
I guess what was happening is that I was living in fear
Of being with her and hurting ones that I hold dear.
And then it exploded, publicly, like “never before” and I learned something about myself that I never knew
I love being in love
My macho self awakes and screams at me: what are you, who are you? You call yourself a man
I snicker and check myself down there, I concur, and yell: That I am
But a funny thing happens during the momentary inspection
That part of me looks back at me and makes a suggestion
Don’t look at me, Slave master
find a way to stop your heart from beating faster
And I laugh and I act like I’m in full control,
I’m a man; I can switch things on and off
I can suppress feelings I can bring them to the fore
And then…..I fall in love with love
For that I apologize, on behalf of men, on behalf of me
It’s not my fault that God created woman so magnificently.
A lot can be said about the shapely form, the hair and complexion
About the voice that makes a strong heart weak
The tears that science says has a negative effect on your erection
One could even talk about the ability to make a bad situation better,
Or turning sperm into beautiful babies or groceries into supper
Maybe I’m not alone in this, perhaps love is a drug, a pleasant interruption
The frequency of falling in love with love, is now getting dysfunctional
One after the other, one with another, two sometimes, at one time three
And then the effects of love overdose start to kill me.
I lose my belief in my ability to love thee
If this was love honey, why does some other girls smile, affect me?
It’s not that I don’t love or have never loved you.
But my heart tells me that I’m not the one that’s meant to be
Because, I’m in love again
Only this time, I’m not fooling myself
I am a fool for love, who’ll die alone,
a cherished or cursed memory hidden in another fool’s home.
But thank you. I do not know why I remembered it just now, but I pass the gift along.
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
by E. E. Cummings
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
Sometimes, I guess, this is all you have to say.
Fuck You Poem # 45Amy Gerstler
Fuck you in slang and conventional English.
Fuck you in lost and neglected lingoes.
Fuck you hungry and sated; faded, pock marked and defaced.
Fuck you with orange rind, fennel and anchovy paste.
Fuck you with rosemary and thyme, and fried green olives on the side.
Fuck you humidly and icily.
Fuck you farsightedly and blindly.
Fuck you nude and draped in stolen finery.
Fuck you while cells divide wildly and birds trill.
Thank you for barring me from his bedside while he was ill.
Fuck you puce and chartreuse.
Fuck you postmodern and prehistoric.
Fuck you under the influence of opium, codeine, laudanum and paregoric.
Fuck every real and imagined country you fancied yourself princess of.
Fuck you on feast days and fast days, below and above.
Fuck you sleepless and shaking for nineteen nights running.
Fuck you ugly and fuck you stunning.
Fuck you shipwrecked on the barren island of your bed.
Fuck you marching in lockstep in the ranks of the dead.
Fuck you at low and high tide.
And fuck you astride anyone who has the bad luck to fuck you, in dank hallways,
bathrooms, or kitchens.
Fuck you in gasps and whispered benedictions.
And fuck these curses, however heartfelt and true,
that bind me, till I forgive you, to you.
I have been dreaming a lot of an old love of mine. I did not know at the time that lovers remained in your dreamworld, years after you stopped holding their hand. The dreams are peaceful, glowing. Sweet the remnants of what was so hard to walk away from, years ago. I have been thinking-debating, discussing, agonizing- about the notion of what loves stay with us, and which ones fade away, like sugar. I had been aching knowing that the pain we feel passes away, and love can be found again, and no feeling is permanent. It makes the mourning useless, and the fear useless, for if we can stop crying over death, we can stop crying over life. And then, as poetry does, today this poem came to me. I was sailing around online, discovering a new voice courtesy of my lovely Rewa, and found this. This is what I have been dreaming of this week. Small miracles.
Washing the Elephant
by Barbara Ras
March 15, 2010 .
Isn’t it always the heart that wants to wash
the elephant, begging the body to do it
with soap and water, a ladder, hands,
in tree shade big enough for the vast savannas
of your sadness, the strangler fig of your guilt,
the cratered full moon’s light fuelling
the windy spooling memory of elephant?
What if Father Quinn had said, “Of course you’ll recognize
your parents in Heaven,” instead of
“Being one with God will make your mother and father
pointless.” That was back when I was young enough
to love them absolutely though still fear for their place
in Heaven, imagining their souls like sponges full
of something resembling street water after rain.
Still my mother sent me every Saturday to confess,
to wring the sins out of my small baffled soul, and I made up lies
about lying, disobeying, chewing gum in church, to offer them
as carefully as I handed over the knotted handkerchief of coins
to the grocer when my mother sent me for a loaf of Wonder,
Land of Lakes, and two Camels.
If guilt is the damage of childhood, then eros is the fall of adolescence.
Or the fall begins there, and never ends, desire after desire parading
through a lifetime like the Ringling Brothers elephants
made to walk through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel
and down Thirty-fourth Street to the Garden.
So much of our desire like their bulky, shadowy walking
after midnight, exiled from the wild and destined
for a circus with its tawdry gaudiness, its unspoken
It takes more than half a century to figure out who they were,
the few real loves-of-your-life, and how much of the rest—
the mad breaking-heart stickiness—falls away, slowly,
unnoticed, the way you lose your taste for things
like popsicles unthinkingly.
And though dailiness may have no place
for the ones who have etched themselves in the laugh lines
and frown lines on the face that’s harder and harder
to claim as your own, often one love-of-your-life
will appear in a dream, arriving
with the weight and certitude of an elephant,
and it’s always the heart that wants to go out and wash
the huge mysteriousness of what they meant, those memories
that have only memories to feed them, and only you to keep them clean.
The part where she talks about it taking half a century is what I have been wondering myself.
In case you didn’t know what would make you cry and hold your breath in the middle of the day, in a lit office somewhere, the whole life you felt behind you materializing like a vague dream you cant shake loose, your future undrawn by pen ink, the husky green eyes of your mother on the blurry edges of everything you ever loved, around you, read this. From Rewa Z, posted on her FB wall, in innocence and love.
“You can’t have it all” by Barbara Ras.
But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam’s twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man’s legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who’ll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can’t bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can’t count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother’s,
it will always whisper, you can’t have it all,
but there is this.
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