Tuesday, November 17, 2015

warsan shire's poem "what they did yesterday afternoon"

Araweelo Returns WIP (see below credit) 
what they did yesterday afternoon 

they set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me 
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered 

Warsan Shire’s poetry and words can be found on 

Warsan Shire was born in Somalia and raised in England. Her poetry has been featured on the Poetry Foundation website.
"Araweelo Returns WIP" is copyrighted by somaliart at:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Future Is Still Happy, Go Figure

The Future is Happy, by Sarah Sarai, is a variegated quilt that demonstrates a knack for patching together unlikely juxtapositions which flow naturally and vibrantly, without feeling forced or contrived. A thread of spirituality runs through much of this collection, but it is a very open, inclusive, and generous thread rather than being tightly affixed to any one viewpoint or belief system. Richly hand-dyed yarn is interwoven with glinting fishing wire is interwoven with glittery fibers. Overall, this is a bright, warm, hearty quilt, with much to offer and reveal.
Often I am put off by spiritual extrapolation in conversation or in literature, as it too frequently seems to be presented in a way that seems both vague and judgmental or at least overly lofty, for no reason I can relate to. I tend to dislike goddess talk and generic references such as, ‘The universe will provide.’ Fortunately, Sarai’s breed of spiritual infusion is much more resonant, because it is a lively cross-breed. She speaks in a specific language, redolent with varied life experience and details culled from those experiences. Cosmic references interestingly coexist with everyday objects. In “Front Yard (I Have No Mythology),” Sarai writes:
My lace bustier has slender ribbons attached
to the nine or so planets. Await with a shiver
my dance that says mortality.
I jut one hip and you’re revealed
as, well, tragic. I snap the crushed grapeskin
of your life to obeisant heavens which shuttle you
farther out. Although you might wonder what’s next,
I’ve got a bead on things.
It seems to me it’s not that Sarai has no mythology; it’s more that no one view takes precedence. Everything has its place: sometimes the placement seems unlikely, but somehow it all converges into a cohesive and engaging whole.
The entity behind these poems is in possession of a generous spirit of inclusiveness and harbors a broad-based view that is able to draw from multifarious sources to express relevant connections. This makes me feel connected to her world and to the larger world. In “Monarch of the Desert,” Sarai writes: “The springs of Baden Baden? / Miss Piggy Bubblebath soothes as good,” which is one small sample of how Sarai delightfully juxtaposes personal microcosmic details with those of larger landscapes. As evidenced in this excerpt, her tone tends to be conversational, but doesn’t fall victim to an aphorism-laden style (like a self-help book) or become overly accessible (like sappy inspirational verse), which are too-frequent faults of much spiritually oriented writing. Sarai’s language is too specific and intelligent for that and makes me as a reader feel included in the landscapes she explores. In “We All Know Things Together,” she writes:

Together we know our lives
together could be more than
performances we all know
we can never simply forget.
Though we forget, don’t we.

As that last line does not end with a question mark, it strikes me as a sort of observation about our collective human flaws, frailty, and sometimes culpability-and the speaker includes herself in this.
Sarai’s vocabulary is multifaceted and sometimes erudite, but not in a self-aggrandizing or preachy way. Her style is that of someone who takes delight and draws insight from diverse terrains. Many of her poetic observations are both playful and apt. Her references run the gamut from Biblical to philosophical to pop cultural to personal, often within the same poems. Indeed, some of the pieces that resonate most strongly for me involve poignant universal themes personalized with contemporary pop culture dreams or recontextualizations of intersecting identities, such as those of Anne Frank and Emily Dickinson. Here is the first and last stanza from “Emily Dickinson Is Jewish”:

Emily Dickinson is Jewish and hides in an attic.
Restriction and Emily’s selective nomadic soul breed
Speculation. She misses bees, frogs, familiar sovereign woods.
She squints at dust, the Oriental carpet, a creaking plank.
Faint breath and her thin tongue.
Stanzas lapped in smoke.
Poems as long as one letter, rise.
I find this fusion of identities to be powerfully effective, poignant, even shiver-inducing. I think the language and details within the piece are well-chosen. It also makes me think on some level that if someone else (a poet, no less) could fit into the role of Anne Frank so seemingly interchangeably, then maybe so could Inever mind the fact that Dickinson, Frank, and myself each exist within different eras in time. This leads to another interesting facet of Sarai’s collection. In addition to intersections of identity, the poet also weaves intersections in the fabric of time. The past and the present rather seamlessly interact and interplay, both in terms of the references in the poems and in terms of the chronological order of the collection’s presentation. It doesn’t have a chronological order that is dictated by time or any other kind of linear progression; it has its own order, its own logic, and of course its own titular assertion that ‘The Future Is Happy’: not that the future will be happyit is.
The Dickinson/Frank amalgam is just one of numerous poems that fuse Biblical figures with pop cultural personages or historical icons with contemporary people. “The Brave One” begins with the lines: “I’d marry Jodie Foster, if only to fatten/and teach her what God wants from us.” The poem after that is called “The Blood of Billy Bob Thornton.” There are references to Jack Kerouac, James Brown, Parker Posey, a heaven populated with literary characters. We even get a piece in which a version of the poet herself takes on the identity of the Virgin Mary, “St. Sarai Carrying the Infant Christ Child,” which includes the wonderful lines: “Isn’t making art remembering / what we knew? Why not, then, salvation?”
I’ve read plenty of poems in which the writer inserts Jesus into some seemingly unlikely contemporary context (the whole ‘what if God was one of us?’ question, which frankly, strikes me as clichéd), but Sarai manages to put a new swirl on this. In her poems, Biblical figures interact with seemingly disparate figures until they become analogous to one another. In “No End Out of Mind,” she writes:
There is no sorting genitalia,
fleshy playthings for Shiva’s lust.
All gods desire image.
The saints are graven and simple
with love of the Other.
You are a teenager dreaming,
both hands curled around the nimbus
in delirium and pleasure at the brush of
a pink Persian hyacinth along your
thigh. Your besotted blouse
is proud of its place on your breasts
and their sharp cry for more.
Here, saints and gods and teenage lust intersect in a transfixed realm that is not quite heaven, not quite real life. Elsewhere, Sarai presents realms that are not quite the present, not quite the past; they are the future before the future has actually arrived. It is an open, generous, inclusive glimpse into a future of fusion, potentiality, and ethereality.
Don’t be scared off by the word ethereality, though, if you’re not a fan of the overly abstract. The language of this collection is specific, dynamic, and rich with myriad detail. It also includes some poems that are more based in reality or real world experiences. Some of these poems strike me as celebrations of meaningful moments or personal adventures, complete with the occasional small epiphany. Although many of these pieces are presented with a certain joie de vivre, this is not to say that all of the life experiences Sarai sets forth consist of joyful, happy-go-lucky times. Some of them are heavy with grief or the pain of other hard life lessons, including response to the AIDS crisis, the death of loved ones, 9/11, and war. In “From a Strange Planet,” she writes:
not immortal but just a man who hits
an unblinking blue and whisks among
skyscrapers, your friends feathered,
winged or God forbid, self-released
from the life stationary, succumbing
to acceleration.
Despite such painful awareness of human mortality and hard-earned wisdom resulting from other harsh experiences, though, the speaker does not force any doses of bitter medicine or unsolicited advice down readers’ throats. Indeed, part of the generous spirit that shines from within many of Sarai’s poems may be associated with her ability to convey genuine gems of affirmation that are not tied to sappy platitudes or false hope. They are like patchwork pieces of truth that are simultaneously sad and happy, the way lived experience often is; the way our world often is. For example, the final stanza from her poem, “How to Love Your Country,” reads:
…Finally I advise nothing but to
stalk and cherish moments you almost see
the amaranthine beauty of life’s binding
truth: You belong to nothing. You belong.
Visit BlazeVOX [books] on the web at http://www.blazevox.org/
Juliet Cook’s poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in Action Yes, Columbia Poetry Review, Diagram, Diode, Oranges & Sardines, Robot Melon and many other online and print sources. She is author of numerous chapbooks, most recently including Pink Leotard & Shock Collar (Spooky Girlfriend Press), Tongue Like a Stinger (Wheelhouse), and Fondant Pig Angst (Slash Pine Press). Her first full-length poetry collection, Horrific Confection was published by BlazeVOX in 2008. For more information, feel free to visit her website at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

How the Honorable Elijah Muhammad Changed the Democratic Party by JULIAN BOND

Paul Robeson with a young Julian Bond.
I urge you to read this short piece written by Julian Bond (1940 to 2015), former chair of the NAACP, former head of the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the founders of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). An honorable man who dedicated his life to civil rights and had the grace, genius and perseverance to enact change.

So. In 1968 he was part of a coalition from Georgia to the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Many in this coalition were Black; not all. They couldn't get hotel rooms - not clear to me if this was strictly monetary, race-related, but anyway. They couldn't.

Bond ran into an associate of the Rev. Elijah Muhammad of the Black Muslims, a group not known for wanting to mingle with white folk. Bond met with Elijah Muhammad. He describes the meeting in this article. A day later, the Reverend gave him most of the money needed to fund the delegation.

And that changed the face, or faces, of the Democratic Party from monocolor to Black and White - a huge step forward. And, again, it was the Black Muslims, who were responsible.

Click to read the article, Now Let The Democrats Praise Elijah Muhammad, in the Chicago Tribune (1996).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tattoo - by Wallace Stevens

I'm at Byrdcliffe in Woodstock. One of the rooms has Wallace Stevens' name on it.  
He stayed here. His "Tattoo" is eerie, light equated to a spider to crawling, to 
spreading webs, fastening. I haven't seen stars in a long time. Disconected thoughts.


The light is like a spider.
It crawls over the water.
It crawls over the edges of the snow.
It crawls under your eyelids
And spreads its webs there--
Its two webs.

The webs of your eyes
Are fastened
To the flesh and bones of you
As to rafters or grass.

There are filaments of your eyes
On the surface of the water
And in the edges of the snow.
Wallace Stevens, from U of V.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Some Quotes from Henry Miller

I read Henry Miller long ago and don't remember my feelings reading him, just the look of the books, which is, I agree, odd. He  lived a version of honesty, was perhaps romantic, as in a bit skewed. I know longer know what "liberated" means - the complication being wrought from both gender politics and realities of life. These quotes shine with spirit and commitment - both admirable.  They are a direct copy and paste from an excellent site, Henry Miller - by Dr. Hugo Heyrman

"No appointments, no invitations for dinner, no program, no dough. The golden period, when I had not a single friend.—Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)

"I keep the Ping-Pong table handy for people I don’t want to talk to. You know, it’s simple. I just play Ping-Pong with them." —Henry Miller

"The art of living is based on rhythm - on give and take, ebb and flow, light and dark, life and death. By acceptance of all the aspects of life, good and bad, right and wrong, yours and mine, the static, defensive life, which is what most people are cursed with, is converted into a dance, 'the dance of life.' The real function of the dance is metamorphosis." —Henry Miller

"I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it: we must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and soul. It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, bloodcurdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war whoop! Away with lamentation! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!" 
—Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)

"To keep the mind empty is a feat, a very healthful feat too. To be silent the whole day long, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip, be thoroughly and completely lazy, thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself. The book-learning gradually dribbles away; problems melt and dissolve; ties are gently severed; thinking, when you deign to indulge in it, becomes very primitive; the body becomes a new and wonderful instrument; you look at plants or stones or fish with different eyes; you wonder what people are struggling to accomplish by their frenzied activities; you know there is a war on but you haven’t the faintest idea what it’s about or why people should enjoy killing one another." —Henry Miller (The Colossus of Maroussi)

Letter:  July 31, 1949. For more information click here

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Oracular Radiation and The Young Orator

2 poems:

Marc Jacobs designs clothes or his team does or whatever. And accessories. And many new stores which are polluting Greenwich Village. So that's the background to "(Marc Jacobs to the West Village.)" And, yeah, I did feel an elephant trunk brush my calves, but that was as I crossed Third Avenue, near 26th Street. See, "As She Crosses." Both poems are in Other Rooms Press' latest issue, Oracular Radiation. That is such a great name I'm not sure poems are necessary. Oracular Radiation conjures old movies and visions of what could be.

Co-editors of Other Rooms are Ed Go and Michael Whalen. Ed Go is a poet and artist - I've oogled with much respect his collaborations several times at the Center for the Book in New York City. He wrote "Heaven, Hell & Middle Earth," an essay about three poems in my collection, The Future Is Happy.

1 story:

Last year my story "The Young Orator" was published as a fiction chapbook by Winged City. The publisher and editor, Teneice Marie, has revamped so Winged City is now under Argus House Press. "The Young Orator," about an eight-year old who spouts quotations from Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The story also features a '57 Chevy Bel Air with pinstriping.  

Monday, June 22, 2015

When I Sold Marijuana

The Artist as a Marijuana Sales Force of One 
I am a youngest child. We youngest are exposed to the world, or at least our older siblings' versions of it, in ways that make us, not jaded, but aware. Sophisticated, even, or so we like to think. We are arguably more aware than our peers with less complicated siblings or siblings who are younger.
If you know of anyone in sales who wants to demonstrate the connection between character type and success, point them to this article.  Introverts and sales?  Probably not a good mix. To protect the innocent, I didn't reveal how many Camp Fire Girl mints I ingested. Are they still for sale? Man, they were good, and that was before I'd ever heard of munchies. 
"My Month in Marijuana Sales" is in the Summer 2015 issue of the ever wonderful The Writing Disorder, edited by Christian Lukather.


Monday, June 15, 2015

...the green of light from trees... & a call for work : HIV Here & Now

Two good things, one ongoing, one promised. The ongoing is a poem-a-day, for a year, on the site HIV Here & Now. Some wonderful poets have already been featured. L. Llamar Wilson, Danez Smith, Julene T. Weaver, Joan Larkin.

My poem, "Practical" was posted on Day 4. It was originally published in Main Street Rag.  It's about either the first or second to go from AIDS, in my life, in the 80s. About that, rage, grief, feminism, collating facs and feelings.

The call-for-work is for an anthology proposed by Michael Broder, publisher and editor at the new Indolent Press.  In brief:
Indolent Books is developing an anthology of writings about the current experience of HIV under the working title, HIV Here & Now, to be published in 2016 in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of these initial reports of what would come to be known as AIDS. For more information about that part of the project, see our Submittable page. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Right to be Lazy - let's hear it for indolence

Another reason to like Karl Marx - his son-in-law Paul Lafarge,
married to the brilliant Laura Marx, pictured above.

The Right to be Lazy

By Paul Lafargue

(A well-known Socialist writer of France. He and his wife, finding themselves helpless from old age and penury, committed suicide together)
DOES any one believe that, because the toilers of the time of the mediæval guilds worked five days out of seven in a week, they lived upon air and water only, as the deluding political economists tell us? Go to! They had leisure to taste of earthly pleasure, to cherish love, to make and to keep open house in honor of the great God, Leisure. In those days, that morose, hypocritically Protestant England was called “Merrie England.” Rabelais, Quevedo, Cervantes, the unknown authors of the spicy novels of those days, make our mouths water with their descriptions of those enormous feasts, at which the peoples of that time regaled themselves, and towards which “nothing was spared.” Jordaens and the Dutch school of painters have portrayed them for us, in their pictures of jovial life. Noble, giant stomachs, what has become of you? Exalted spirits, ye who comprehended the whole of human thought, whither are ye gone? We are thoroughly degenerated and dwarfed. Tubercular cows, potatoes, wine made with fuchsine, beer from saffron, and Prussian whiskey in wise conjunction with compulsory labor have weakened our bodies and dulled our intellects. And at the same time that mankind ties up its stomach, and the productivity of the machine goes on increasing day by day, the political economists wish to preach to us Malthusian doctrine, the religion of abstinence and the dogma of work!
from:  The Right to be Lazy, 1883, courtesy of the Marxists' Internet Archive

Monday, May 4, 2015

Nima Yushij: It’s time for the end of days to cry out

It’s time for the end of days to cry out
and stain blue this page and this dynasty
Time for the flood that crushed our houses
to rise up and reach for the top
to rip out this fragile footing
and wash the wrongs from the land

Iranian poet Nima Yushij, 1896-1960,
from “IT IS TIME”
Tr. from the Farsi by Kaveh Bassir
from Poetic Voices of the Muslim World website/web exhibit

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Please Don't Write About These Don'ts {A Guide for Fiction Writers}

A Naga

A debate-ish popped up today about editors' proclamations. Editors of small journals which publish fiction. In addition to always and not originally stating, "Send us your best," as if writers knowingly send their crap, their fails, their uglies, an editor, one in particular, was called out for his proclamation, his warnings in his journal's Call for Work.  This particular fellow isn't so bad. But comments, mainly from men, defending him are (so bad).  It's an old battle, ongoing and never very interesting, the battle being the "don'ts" of plot. A woman instigated the debate. I suppose that's why the fellows chimed in.

One comment was only Kafka could write about the creature/human transformation. Whew! He got in under the wire. I thought the cutting off point was Shakespeare. I thought the real cutting off point was Ovid. I guess cause Satan isn't an animal, Goethe was safe.

Listen to me and listen hard. No one is to write a fairy tale. No one is to read the Hans Christian Anderson or Angela Carter. You might be inspired. O fie on thee, writer, inspired by great writing.

Some other don'ts include:

Don't write about star-crossed lovers, or lovers who have any problems at all.
Don't write about adultery.
Or gambling. Or driving, hitchhiking, or walking.
Don't write about men who hate their father.
Don't write about daughters with overbearing mothers.
Don't write about the experience of being a soldier at war.
Don't write about the experience of being a citizen in a country at war.
Just leave the whole war thing alone.
Don't write about revenge, abduction, or molestation. Who cares?
Don't write about being a Jew.
Don't write about being a Catholic.
Hey, Protestants, Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus. Don't bother.
I'm on the line about atheists and agnostics.
Don't write about the absurdity of the academy.
Nothing there of interest and definitely nothing humorous.
Don't write about being a misfit teenager.
Don't write about a deformity, imaginary or real.
Don't write about poverty.
Don't write about Brooklyn.
Don't write about wealth.
Don't write about Boston, New York or Americans who travel abroad (wealthy or not, for adventure, or with drugs).
Don't write about crime, be it true or false.
I beg of thee. No stories in which someone is murdered and a detective, official or quaint, solves the crime.
Please. No stories of injustice. No children born out of wedlock. No working class heroes. No war heroes. No heroines. No-I mean NO-stories of orphans who are adopted, abused, sent to dreadful schools.
Don't set your story in New Orleans. Or Texas or New Mexico. Or Oregon. Which reminds me:
No stories about institutions caring for or warehousing the mentally ill.

The above is a short list.

 Of course, be warned, publishers of journals. The quiet, open-minded, modest editors will end up publishing the best - original writing which steals from the finest. Theft in art? Always a plus.
*The Nagas were mythical beings who could transform from man or woman to snake. They were a separate species from humans and lived in their own secret cities deep in the jungle. Often worshipped as gods in the early days, they eventually ended up as minor parts of both the Hindu and Buddhist religions. For more see:  The Naga

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I'm Posting Two-Word Reviews on Goodreads

Art by: Hikaru Cho. See below for her website and a short bio.

Hello to Anyone Interested.

I stopped reviewing formally last year, for many reasons none of which I will delineate here. But I just realized I could keep a list of what I've read on Goodreads, a platform I'd abandoned. So now I am posting two-word (or a few more) reviews of books. Right now, of books I've read in the past few months.  And although in some cases I write "good poet," the fuller meaning would be "I enjoyed reading this collection written by a good poet, and I have indeed read the book and am not simply claiming to have read same." There are even fuller-er meanings but you'll have to buy me a glass of wine to hear those.

Love to Reads & Poets & All Writers,

Sarah Sarai
I'm on Goodreads under the pseudonym, Sarah Sarai, ha ha.

Hikaru Cho. Her website:  http://www.hikarucho.com/ and from that website a brief bio:
Born in 1993/3/29 Currently living in Tokyo Japan. taking "UNUSUAL" as a theme of her creation and creating Art work such as Body painting, stopmotion movie, illustration, clay sculpture, clothing design, Character design, and all sorts. Also do collaboration with several cloth brands. She is now a student in Musashino Art university.
2012年 武蔵野美術大学 視覚伝達デザイン学科に入学。
UNUSUAL(非日常)ARTをテーマに掲げ、体にリアルな目や物を描くボディペイントや衣服のデザイン、イラスト、立体、映像作品などを制作。衣服ブランドMelantrick Hemlight,タイツブランドtokoneとのコラボレーションや、ポスター、スマートフォン向けアプリのイラストやキャラクターグッズのデザインも行っている。

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Anne Waldman Fever Is Upon Us

A Dying Empire - metal band from Lafayette.
Anne Waldman fever is upon us. One friend told me of Waldman's recent performance at her induction into  American Academy of Poets. Bold, dramatic, and singularly nonacademic. Further, a small press, great weather for media, will lead with Anne Waldman's work in their next anthology. I'm in it, too. And the latest issue of Posit features Waldman alongside artist Pamela Lawton.

Attenuate the Loss and Find

For Adrienne Rich

[Our burden to carry as she did
shift the weight of song, heft and gnosis
“body poetics”
as a total event
her fullness rare in the amnesiac Kulchur
awake, awareness & urgency when poetry serves]

name appears 
everywhere and in dream
body armor removed

what now, legacy, archivum
we female archons preserve of
intensity a durance a hand you recognize
(sounds sound)
assurance as lives on

drank of that
drank of this
almost suffocated, then drowned
downed but never

what only she could only know
as herself living in the brute time

speak of a syntax of rendition?
the politics of Empire chip away
as poetry attests, give it up

curve of a water-starved globe
to follow and be following?

racism, sexism, struggle

everything in intense grasp of
consciousness — cut in crystal observation
for her rapid and perched intellectus
privacy opens to vibrant light

this is stuff of Eros, of empathy
passionate edge of Adrienne
the American Skeptic

I feel you consociational in this light
a term of anthropology, to study
intersections in the annals we share

intergenerational, interspecies, interlanguage

move in parallelograms

getting it right as she did

Solstice, Boulder, Colorado 2012
High Park fires distress
Source: Poetry (March 2014)._____________
c/o http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/247336

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Songbook (She's Fabulous! She's Fabulous!)

 Overture (for Red Bricks)  
Hickory! Hank! Zeke! (Farmboys’ Swing)
Dorothy’s Dream
It’s Green Glittering Glinda!
Mambo for a Daid Witch
I’m Thinkin’ I’m Thinkin’ I’m Thinkin’ Thinkin’ Thinkin’
Lamentation in Yellow (Waltz for Poppy)
Hands Are Only Idle When They’re Not Helping You
Is That You, Professor Marvel?
Not Gonna Be a Witch No Mo’ (No Mo’)
Red Shoes Polka (Ballet)
Heal Me (of the Bad Witch in My Soul)
Dorothy’s Dream (Reprise)
She’s Fabulous! She’s Fabulous! Auntie Em Is Fabulous!
Sarah Sarai, 2015. In hopes yet another musical is made of The Wizard of Oz  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Wheat grows between the pages of books ... Nazir Qabanni, Syrian poet

A draft of a Nizar Qabanni poem. 
A Syrian poet, publisher, diplomat, Nizar Qabbani was born on March 21, 1923. He died in 1998.  I was looking for a poet born today, the first day of Spring, when flowers spring up. Love is a flower or so I'm told.

When I Love You

When I love you
A new language springs up,
New cities, new countries discovered.
The hours breathe like puppies,
Wheat grows between the pages of books,
Birds fly from your eyes with tiding of honey,
Caravans ride from your breasts carrying Indian herbs,
The mangoes fall all around, the forests catch fire
And Nubian drums beat.
When I love you your breasts shake off their shame,
Turn into lightning and thunder, a sword, a sandy storm.
When I love you the Arab cities leap up and demonstrate
Against the ages of repression
And the ages
Of revenge against the laws of the tribe.
And I, when I love you,
March against ugliness,
Against the kings of salt,
Against the institutionalization of the desert.
And I shall continue to love you until the world flood arrives;
I shall continue to love you untill the world flood arrives.
Nizar Qabbani, from On Entering the Sea: The Erotic and Other Poetry of Nizar Qabbani, translated by Lena Jayyusi and Jack Collum.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

God is whatever makes us better


 It’s the weirdest thing, 
to be in love with a woman. 
Nothing else matters. 
Even that campy hate scorn is 
rick rack on a little black dress — 
you kidding me? 

Your woman is a body of miracle fiber, 
a tote accommodating 
a change of clothes and good shampoo, 
a heated embrace, an epicenter 
a little sun next to you 
preparing you for your dangerous salvation.

 You have to find a way 
and a sherpa anxious to 
shake out, lean over, 
anchor raw minerals 
on the four directions, 
the four elements, 
the nonrefundable missteps.

 God is whatever makes us better. 
Who’s seen Her, besides 
          William Blake 
          and ten million mothers. 
Do they agree how shining her hair is 
or that her voice is the unified theory 
of everything arranged for strings?

 The idea is to be led to something 
          that is not you. 
If it is the solar system in your arms, 
          pinging you, well, that works. 

®2015. Sarah Sarai, Ping-PongLiterary Journal of the Henry Miller Library, 2014.