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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

“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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And the Gods told our fathers

Give us your sons

And we will trade their smiles for death.

Send us their coats of many colours

And we will change those colours to red,

Give us their sandals

And we will exchange them for boots with which

To tread upon the lives of nameless mothers.

Give us their shirts and

We will smother the children in them.

And they will hate us for it.

 

We will lie to them,

We will never set them free.

 

We will take the lives of your sons

In wars over greed and lust.

Our altars of sacrifice will bleed once more

With glorious blood.

The spilled blood of your sons

The sons of the poor, the sons of the illiterate,

The sons without hope, and the foolishly brave.

 

And we will teach you deception,

We will teach you loss

We will teach you sorrow and

We will desert you when you grieve

And you will thank us for it.

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Slumber, like a stream in winter

Barely flowing on

Gentle flow from world to world

Only in this non-world

Can Trayvon, Doma, Malcom and Medger be forgotten

But even here, the new one,

Orange skin and small hands

Squeezing its way into my silence,

Growling into my sleep

With the voice of a hyena,

“Give me your freedom”.

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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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