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“Perhaps like me you have no address” Mahmoud Darwish

 

And we will go, again and again
Down roads unwanted and unmapped.
Thrust out of our past and present,
We go slowly from, but never towards.
Away, it seems, always away.

You, I, our families,
The disconsolate unwanted,
In mournful unison, go
To where the nightingale flies over sky-less lands,
Circling in silent arcs past our
Rainbows of no color, the solemn hues
Matching the smile
We’ve forgotten to show and
The eyes we’ve left behind
Like an empty wine bottle and
An unmentionable promise of return. 

Leaving is now in our bosom,
The uncultivable feed of our soul,
The cold in our summers.
The sense of loss removes our fingerprints
From the al-mahmas and the al-houn.
We express our losses in silence as
Our soul bears its’ grief
Like an olive tree without roots. 

Upon our next inevitable leaving,
I will change my name
To as yet unknown letters
In a non-existent language,
Denying what we leave behind,
Drawing the letters from what we have
On our backs,
Forged from yet
Another star-less sky
And burned into our souls here,
Times own cryptography.
All we were is spilled from the carts that
We draw silently away,
Along the streets with no sun. 

 

 

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My sky is my life

My life is the sky,

My mind is a valley, covered in fog,

Like an glass eye, staring vacant,

Like a treetop aching for the sun.

My soul is spread across the horizon

Like an undiscovered canticle

On a blackboard, hidden,

As if anything written across its virgin black

Might change the world before it disappears.

Are we but a blackboard with

Words wiped away?

The lost thought, the pretext, now the past,

Sent away to define their own east and west?

Our words, our lusts, our prayers,

Words where there are no words

Souls where there are no souls

Abandonment where there was once substance

But with a little imagination

Can we find ourselves un-erased?

 

A blackboard obscure and somber

The sun fades forever

Into the blackness,

Into the dust.

Phrases hidden in faint visions

Our once solemn vows are but

Remnants of a civilization.

Ideas that never flourished

Never gave a reward,

Never gave nourishment to an empty soul

Never a grain left behind, but an already eaten morsel,

Stale and quotidian

My life is a brazen question

Unasked and unanswered

Forgotten on the lips of a corpse.

 

 

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There can be no I here,
And I can see
There is to be no you,
But soft, that we go together
As friends
To where the dogwood will flower
And the scent of lilac fills the breath of
The disappointed and
The forever tired
With calm. And
We shall bathe in the universe,
Bask in the glories of the sun.
Sweeping aside
Who we were, what we are,
As the day laps on our skin
Gently like a kitten
On a path.
We can’t look behind us.
It is but a sad illusion for those such as us.
We can bring no oil, no wine, no myrrh.
No more of the streets of our youth
No more of the wine vats
In our once luscious gardens.
There is but small growth among them.
Olive trees, dark, like skeletons,
Scorched and barren.
All growth for them is finished but for
The light we afforded their charred roots.
Nothing is there but exile for us.
Let us go.
Let us hasten our renewals.
Now is the time to be kind.
Let us not have this darkness now.
Their suns and moons are no longer ours,
Let us go, as friends should.
Our clouds will flow immaculate over the hills
And leave their traces gently on their souls
With the softness of the freshest cotton,
Lambs wool in the pink morning sun.
Let us go on our way
With nary a backwards glance,
But there, towards our own new present.
Me, the poet
You the eternal traveler.
No longer reticent, but brave in our pace.
Let us go to that place
As friends to the day.

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Yesterday I received a copy of my fathers last will and testament in the mail as is a required part of the probate of his estate. I won’t go into the contents publicly, but it brought the loss once again very much to mind, as well as the years of absence we both endured from each other.
 
I found this beautiful, sad poem written by one of the best young poets I have found in quite some time, Warsan Shire. It brought a needed calm to me, as it embraced the emotions I feel as well.
 
 
Backwards
by Warsan Shire,
 
for Saaid Shire
 
The poem can start with him walking backwards into a room.
He takes off his jacket and sits down for the rest of his life;
that’s how we bring Dad back.
I can make the blood run back up my nose, ants rushing into a hole.
We grow into smaller bodies, my breasts disappear,
your cheeks soften, teeth sink back into gums.
I can make us loved, just say the word.
Give them stumps for hands if even once they touched us without consent,
I can write the poem and make it disappear.
Step-Dad spits liquor back into glass,
Mum’s body rolls back up the stairs, the bone pops back into place,
maybe she keeps the baby.
Maybe we’re okay kid?
I’ll rewrite this whole life and this time there’ll be so much love,
you won’t be able to see beyond it.
You won’t be able to see beyond it,
I’ll rewrite this whole life and this time there’ll be so much love.
Maybe we’re okay kid,
maybe she keeps the baby.
Mum’s body rolls back up the stairs, the bone pops back into place,
Step-Dad spits liquor back into glass.
I can write the poem and make it disappear,
give them stumps for hands if even once they touched us without consent,
I can make us loved, just say the word.
Your cheeks soften, teeth sink back into gums
we grow into smaller bodies, my breasts disappear.
I can make the blood run back up my nose, ants rushing into a hole,
that’s how we bring Dad back.
He takes off his jacket and sits down for the rest of his life.
The poem can start with him walking backwards into a room.
 
Warsan Shire, “Backwards.” Copyright © 2014 by Warsan Shire.
 

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Towards Lhasa

We discussed the smell

Of the monk who set himself on fire,

Shaking our heads in half-disbelief

As our tour guides made dinner.

We camped early along the banks of

The Lhasa River,

The terrain rough-hewed and ragged.

The sunset, intense orange and purple, matching

The orange flames of our campfire matching

Those that ate his flesh.
In Liuwuxiang we waited as our gear dried.

We inquired, with barely a concern,

As to precisely where he burned,

How much further to the spot in Ngawa and

Was the spot worshiped like a shrine?

To forgotten freedom?  Was there

A plaque to commemorate?
No one talked to us about the Why.

Half- hearted questions met with steel eyes.

Such questions are better not asked

Such words carry too much weight

Baggage packed with an official taboo

Burning the tongue before utterance.

 

We discussed the smell of a monk on fire.

His ashes washed away long ago

But the smoke still presents a challenge

The stench of burning flesh

A common pain that may never leave.

 

 

 

Poets note: Most of the self immolation that has occurred in Tibet have been in the Ngawa region, not in Lhasa. Access to Ngawa is forbidden by the Chinese government for most from the west, and internet access has been severely restricted. I chose to use Lhasa in this poem to reinforce these restrictions.

For more information, go to this website; https://www.freetibet.org/about/self-immolation-protests

 

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The hardest part of a poem is always

The start.

The saddest part of a journey is often

The journey itself.
A woman in a hijab waits in the subway

The whoosh of air as a train passes by,

Rustling the edge of her scarf on her soft face.

Posters on the windows of the train mere colors as they pass

Blues and greens and lots of yellow and white, and red

Red, the color she left behind,

Not red like a sunset, but Red.

Red like the lights of an ambulance,

Red like the cheeks of a wailing child.

Red like the blood-streets and sidewalks. Red.
The lights of another passing train flicker by.

Her hijab offers no protection, no barrier is formed between the soft fabric and

Faces lit and then hidden

Eyes shine momentarily and then retreat to dark.

Eyes she’s afraid to meet.

Faces she has learned not to look back at.

The color of her skin disallows contact.

The happiest part of a journey is quite often the arrival.

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My love sleeps with unicorns

In a bed of softest feathers and hay, 

On a cloud of warmth and love

A cloud so high we mere ones can only wish. 

Her gown of finest linen, moving but

Soft as her breath gently lifts its folds

Around her form. 

Her hair falls on her shoulders in a gentle

Storm, blown but by the softest breeze, 

Brown and golden in a light that sparkles

Like a wandering stream in Springs’ morning sun. 

This maid of constant joy sleeps silently, 

I see her there, always as if the first time, 

Wearing a maidens crown

Of daises and wild strawberries. 

Her tomorrows ensured

With gladness and beauty, 

Gold and silver, memories of laughter

A constant joy where ne’er a tear falls from her eye, 

Her memories and dreams are but 

Fields of gold and skies of azure blue

As she called you by your name and ran 

Into a tomorrow of wonder, 

A tomorrow she can hint at, but only the few

Untarnished warriors and knights can find. 

You know she has the answers, 

Cast in a web of knowing, 

But you never ask.

I can but watch and marvel at her beauty

As I, I who are so unworthy

Scorn my crown of thorns. 

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Harriet Tubman On The Hilltops Of Heaven

 

Prayed as she tossed stones down

Into the valley of remembrance.

And each she offered with a prayer,

A word of blessing to each name

Written one by one on each stone.

 

To those both named and unnamed,

The mild and the strong,

The wretched and the saints.

To each life ripped away by hatred

Those who empowered

Those who oppressed

Everyone who hid behind walls

Those who stood to be counted

Those who were beaten down.

Those who saw their own death

Written in front of their eyes

On burning crosses

Spread across Mother Earths bosom.

Who saw their children’s souls ascend and

Cried the tears of Virgin Mary.

Those who at the moment of death

Saw their own fate reflected

In the futures of their children.

Those whose lives were filled with fear,

Those who heard unforgotten words of hate

In their dead ears for centuries.

Those who touched the sky,

Those who could barely crawl,

Those killed because they ran,

Those hung from trees,

Those dragged into the earth,

Those whose wounds bled for generations.

Those who believed blindly,

Those who suffered the lies in silence,

And those who knew a lie for a lie

And died trying to teach.

 

When she ran out of stones

Her cry was heard throughout the universe

For there were so many more names than stones

 

 

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Sleep

Can I just sleep

When the thought of you

Carries me to clouds

Where sunlight dances

Magic on my skin

And the dreams of your lips

Rose petals of longing

Weave themselves into my forever

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These poets released their hearts on the world

The ones we knew and lost,

Those punk poets with ADHD and precious fits of anger,

The ones who tore down the murals on Pine Street

The ones who brought their stolen guitars

13 years old, playing music in the streets until dawn

When the police stole them from their sleeping bags

Handcuffing them into the backseat of their prowlers

The order of a blowjob or a night in jail

Those romantic poets whose hearts were young and full of anticipation

The ones not yet broken down by maryjane dreams in

The back seats of adult theatres

The quick cum meals swallowed fast and cheap for food money

The old men with their eyes closed never cared about a name

Those dying poets who were still so very alive and independent

So much more than you and I ever were

Not haunted by false iconic visions of future fatherly duty and the

Idiom of an autocratic family life without questions

Answers answers answers they never wanted and we never knew

Those spoken word poets who sold their souls on the interstate

Spouting their gospels out loud in honkytonks

From Nashville to Memphis

Living in the back seat of a 55 Ford

The Guardians of Race beating them in fits of fear and hate

Those crazed poets who raced down the riverbanks without shoes

Hair flying in the breeze, eyes bulging out of their skulls

Blanked out on crack screaming at the universe about

Eternal damnation and all the

Virgins they’d never live to fuck

Those anaemic Goth poets who couldn’t get out of bed before 6pm

Puking in the hallway, blood surrounding the toilets

Building supervisors looking the other way in disgust but

Knowing they’d pay their rent at the end of the month

When they dropped their jeans

Those interstellar poets who flew to Europe with daddies’ money

The ones who blew it all in a casino without windows

Losing it on broken promises and

A thousand and one forgotten explanations

Those intellectual poets who fell to their knees in philosophical orgasms

Espousing a faith to the almighty Kafka. Trotsky or Camus in

Coffeehouses filled with clove smoke thick as lies

Clueless fools awaiting verbal ejaculations

Still debating just what the fuck they meant

 

Does it fucking matter at all?

 

These poets released their hearts on the world

The ones no one knew

Those hipster poets their pockets filled with Hegel

The ones who argued that life is a fucked up poem of its own

“Ecstasy is the natural form of live” tattooed across their foreheads as they killed themselves

In taxis sneaking their poems out of East Berlin in the 1970s

The last stanzas of the Internationale and top secret words,

Words of revolution slipping out of their consciousness.

Those fashionista poets with the berets,

Dizzy and Bird and Mingus, oh bop kabala, oh piano riffs of Monk

Twisting the head around until it falls into the Hudson

Only to be born again in these lines

.

I too want to be born again in these lines. Oh holy oh holy

Oh Mother of Invention and Creationism dead and dying.

Lying in a supermarket aisle with the scars of unfaithful husbands

Cocks swallowed whole in hasty retreats

Notes in pockets of winter coats left behind hastily and forever regretted

Let me cum on your breasts.

Let me fill your vessels in three quarter time.

Frantic frantic these words cannot give me peace that’s not their intent

These are the poets’ cries, the ones no one hears

Bulldozers running 24/7, poetic cities of metal built and rebuilt on the same stones

Stoned poets running in the Bowery,

Running in Harlem,

Running in Seattle and San Francisco bath houses

Running from gin joint to bop united strip joints to gay bars with big screen tvs

Blasting Eurovision and Berlusconis porn for the masses, but I digress

 

These poets released their hearts on the world

Those shy poets tripping over cobblestones in 60s Stockholm coffeehouses

Out of focus permanently in every night daydreams of a better world

Daydreams daydreams life is but a daydream

Palmes murder ended a countries’ dream but now it’s all life as you want it

If you want it here it is come and get it

Swim from the city to the archipelago drown in the icy water all alone

Your poetic dreams washed up on shores of fascist nations

Those awkward poets hiding in the public library salons built like hospital wards

Leaving notes in Martian, this I’ve seen, that no one can decipher on the large tables while flashing gorgeous legs to the staff

Security guards keeping a vulture close watch on their every curve

Rhymes from ancient poets calling, pushing their insanity further and further

Their poems lost for all time with a jolt of electricity or the push of a needle.

Those poets who burned themselves with ink and notes and bong hits to Mars

Screeching their poems across the Reed College radio wavelengths

To scholastic pulpits with drug infested dirges raining down on their      consciousness

Until Eric has to scream “No more, No more” across the rooftops of hell

Campus security hoping he takes the leap

His poetry left behind on the stones of campus forever like a scar to the truth.

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This is more of what I suspect will be my version of Leaves Of Grass in that it may never come to a final version,, I’m very open to critique and suggestion on this.. Hope you like it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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