Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Feel Like Travelling On

Sit down and be patient:
sure, it’s a beautiful,
endless, lonely Sunday
afternoon: the old people
are in their graves:
the old places are deserted:
the times of all those
times, faces, flavors
a few minds left old:
sure ahead the chief
business is tearing the rest
of the way loose, but by
the empty take the full
sit down, find something
to read: a grand possibility
was made, who knows
what became of it

~Poet Unknown

Vultures by Dilip Mohapatra

I am the new age Indian woman
the daughter of a father who
calls me Angel
and the sister of my brothers
who think I am a fairy
who has descended from the heavens.
I have the wings
that could take me to the highest of the skies
beyond the clouds and beyond the stars
but the vultures hover above
their ravenous and watchful eyes focused on me
and their talons and beaks
in perpetual readiness to pounce on me.
I get diktats issued from time to time
from the guardians of the great Indian culture
from the moral police and the custodians of values,
that my skirts should touch my ankles
that my neckline should stay just around my larynx
and I can't shake a leg in the disco
nor can I say cheers in a pub.
But how can you stop the vultures
with a sight that pierces through
the layers of my prescribed opaque clothes
to see through and sense the fig leaf underneath
and always ready to plunge and peck at
the offensive and evil protrusions on me
that entice them to no end
and that fans the lecherous fire in them?
I may hide my body in an iron armour
and even may go for a mastectomy
but the vultures will still hover over me
for vultures will always be vultures
even though they may have their own
daughters sisters and mothers.
And again I must continue to remind myself
I am a woman and

it's all my fault.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Walking Around - Pablo Neruda

It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailor shops and movie houses
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt

steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.
The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.
It so happens I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.
Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.
I don’t want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.
I don’t want so much misery.
I don’t want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.
That’s why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the night.
And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist houses,
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.
There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical cords.
I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic shops,
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Lesson In Drawing by Nizar Qabban

#‎Rhymealong with Nizar Qabbani

My son places his paint box in front of me
and asks me to draw a bird for him.
Into the color gray I dip the brush
and draw a square with locks and bars.
Astonishment fills his eyes:
"... But this is a prison, Father,
Don't you know, how to draw a bird?"
And I tell him: "Son, forgive me.
I've forgotten the shapes of birds."
My son puts the drawing book in front of me
and asks me to draw a wheatstalk.
I hold the pen
and draw a gun.
My son mocks my ignorance,
"Don't you know, Father, the difference between a
wheatstalk and a gun?"
I tell him, "Son,
once I used to know the shapes of wheatstalks
the shape of the loaf
the shape of the rose
But in this hardened time
the trees of the forest have joined
the militia men
and the rose wears dull fatigues
In this time of armed wheatstalks
armed birds
armed culture
and armed religion
you can't buy a loaf
without finding a gun inside
you can't pluck a rose in the field
without its raising its thorns in your face
you can't buy a book
that doesn't explode between your fingers."
My son sits at the edge of my bed
and asks me to recite a poem,
A tear falls from my eyes onto the pillow.
My son licks it up, astonished, saying:
"But this is a tear, father, not a poem!"
And I tell him:
"When you grow up, my son,
and read the diwan of Arabic poetry
you'll discover that the word and the tear are twins
and the Arabic poem
is no more than a tear wept by writing fingers."
My son lays down his pens, his crayon box in
front of me
and asks me to draw a homeland for him.
The brush trembles in my hands

and I sink, weeping.