Tuesday, December 28, 2010

hanai

my grandmother's name was muna
they called her mna,
she had eyes greener 
than the mint she pressed
into her husbands tea,
hands small as a child's,
stronger than a soldier's
five foot, maybe
if she stretched

she was
a woman

married a boy she knew her entire life,
a pilot's wife, ear constantly tuned towards the radio
for signs of accidents in the sky
slept with her head on his shoulder every night

she was
a wife

life spent in a constant cycle of
kneading, nourishing, and loving

birthed nine children,
two who's faces the next moon
never saw,
countless others
lost in utero,

she loved them all,
painfully

she was a mother

never learned to read,
but taught her daughters
a woman must learn to do everything

told time by the way the light
hit the wall

worked with her elbows, knees,
and neck
broke her back
to erect the spine
of a home
she never slept in

taught her daughters
to love with their entire body
but her sons
she loved from a place
low in her stomach,
that roared up and welled over,
that stretched across oceans,
riding on tides
hard and deep,

some nights they still say her name
in their sleep

she was amazing

i never knew her

i only have the stories

about her eyes,
how they were 
green

greener than the na'anah
she put in her tea,
greener than the sea 
in winter
greener than the grass
in the month before summer,
when the sun comes to make everything dry

i only have the stories

about how her hair 
was two black braids that hung to her waist,
and the way she sat when she ate.

i never knew her

so i wrote a poem
so i could feel 
like i know her

my grandmother's name was muna
and they called her mna

Saturday, December 25, 2010

i wish i knew you

before everyone else thought you were beautiful.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

marley.

note: despite what it seems, this is a poem about the boy, not the musician. be who you are, loves. don't throw your life away trying to be something else.

-

nights spent in a smoky room,
blunt in hand, 
surrounded by ugly people

you think it will make you like him,
like the drugs will channel through you
and possess you with talent, raw, 
like the chemicals will filter into your system,
illuminating like morning light through a stained glass window 
and teach your fingers how to play,
your voice how to sing,
like your brain will rework itself 
into something better than it is

you are not bob marley

you are just a boy 
who smokes too much.

and marley was just a man
who wrote music 
and made mistakes
and smoked too much

he was not god

it is dangerous
to imitate an artist,
they are the most unreliable 
kind of beautiful

artists crack themselves open
to see what pours out,
examine ribs for lost messages
carved by swallowed demons,
trapped, and open veins 
to see what their pulse looks like

like most poets, he never learned 
to love right

made music
that he loved like a woman,
too hard 
to be healthy

you are a boy
in a room
with a joint.

you
know
nothing. 

marley turned his soul inside out
trying to find a way back to trenchtown

he was a poet.
he was a musician.
he was an artist.
he was beautiful.

and you are just stupid enough
to think it was worth it. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

cobra

you were my intoxicating malady, 
an exotic allurement, 
captivating me,
from conception to completion,
a dangerous intimacy.

you were the pied piper,
and your flute played my
siren song

resting obediently in your basket,
i swayed to your hiss
like a dancer,
using dimmed lights
to hide her face

naive enough to look past your fangs,
until they pierced me,
your guile around me like a vice,
constricting conscious
more than consciousness

you are reptilian. 

the music stopped,
and you swallowed me whole.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

when they're with you, they're with you.

but they won't be with you for long.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

RIP my Prince. My sweet, sweet boy.



I will choose to remember you like this. And I wish I could write something more eloquent, something more deserving to celebrate your life that you would have so easily given for me, to describe how innocently you loved without asking for anything back, but right now, I can't.

Right now I will work on remembering you like this. With your head out the window. Or in my lap.

Rest now, my boy, in peace.

Friday, November 19, 2010

horcruxes or hallows?

beautiful and dark. raw and whimsical. left me aching.

boy in the cupboard under the stairs no more, but a man with five o'clock shadow and the dull ache of loss, with hands that have felt a body seep life and eyes that have seen too much.

so young, to be fighting so many.

i watched until my eyes hurt.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Parents," said Harry,

"shouldn't leave their kids unless - unless they've got to."

.


"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming."



-
i literally shivered to the tips of my toes the first time i read this.

Kingsley was striding

backward and forward, glancing up at the sky every time he turned. Harry was reminded of Uncle Vernon pacing the living room a million years ago.


-

it really does feel like a million years ago.

"Our best chance is to use decoys.

Even You-Know-Who can't split himself into seven."

There was a brief silence

in which the distant echo of Hagrid smashing down a wooden front door seemed to reverberate through the intervening years.

-

who else remembers it?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

peeling pomegranates

it was like giving birth,
in that cramped apartment,
fingers sifting through soft
flesh for ripened seeds

it was like committing murder
on that scratched wooden floor,
in your underwear,
ruby juice like blood, spattered
against lower stomach,
right above where your womb 
would be

would be.

it was like leeching life, 
to lick it from your fingers,

it was like the most lonesome
kind of death, to fall asleep,
curled into yourself on that floor,
room, heart and abdomen empty,
thighs, teeth, and hands
stained red. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

the almost girls. (extended)

we are the almost girls
the not quite girls
the nearly, nearly
just right girls

the all but girls,
the close to girls,
the somewhere in the ball park girls,

the just about girls,
the not quite
without a doubt girls,
the mostly, on the verge of, 
not far from girls

the somehow, somehow
never just right girls. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

almost girls

we are the almost girls
the not quite girls
the nearly, nearly
just right girls

Sunday, November 7, 2010

i should thank you

for disillusioning me, but right now it only makes me sad.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

your mother's tragedies.

dried up lakes remind her of her mother
and she doesn't want to be the girl
who wrote a thousand poems
for a boy she never met

eating grapefruit
makes her think of her mother's mouth,
of lipstick left in the tube too long, 
and she doesn't want to spend her life
missing a face she's never seen

her mothers hands smell like bleach,
nails chipped, 
and she doesn't want to wake up one morning,
with her mother's tired face
and yellow eyes,
still in love with ghosts of men
from her mother's past. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the grey box.

she always loved his hands,
warm and strong and sure.

she flung herself
from the peak of
the highest roof in town
the morning after
that was all they could
send back to her.

trinket stories.

she knew she would love him
for the rest of her life
when he tipped her wire basket
onto the floor, rings, bracelets,
spilling across the carpet in
flashes of green stones and
purple plastic, red metal
rusting brown, and said,
"tell me the stories."

.


and for a time,
it was good.
so good.

      for a time.

sweet summer skin.

i think of you when pineapple turns my mouth sore,
the corners of my lips raw, i think of how
you would press your fingers into them,
they would taste like summer,
skin turned sweet.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

layla wa majnun.

you called me your layla,
the famous love from days 
of old, your layla
and now, i spend each night
in a boundless, delicious
frightful state, terrified
that you will be my majnun. 

i pass by these walls,

the walls of layla.

Friday, October 22, 2010

expiration date: sooner than you think

sometimes, i open the fridge
and stare at its contents,
the milk two days too old,
the pumpkin i've been meaning
to make something with.

sometimes, i stand at the window
and stare at the light turning yellow,
and then pink, and then blue

sometimes, i look at someone
and my eyes stay there,
their face pulling like a magnet

sometimes i hear a word,
or a phrase,
or a part of a sentence,

and i feel like i'm on 
the precipice of something,
wildly, hugely, completely important.

then it passes.
i close the fridge. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

i have bruises on my body

left by ghosts,
and blood under
my nails
that is not mine.

whispers in my
ear, from
voices
i've never
heard

and a taste
in my mouth
that feels
like smoke.

i like things

to be a little bit ugly sometimes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

the day sorrow came.

It was nearly fall the afternoon Sorrow came to stay. Not to visit, but to stay. She didn't come unprepared, on the fly, with dusty hair and travel-worn shoes. She came for good, with bags in each hand packed to brim, ready for any occasion. 

Trousers and blouses and house clothes. Sequined dancing dresses and skimpy underthings, exercise shoes and shiny stilettos. A bag of its own just for bracelets and bangles, pendants and rings. Pretty things to dangle from the lobes of her ears and rest against the slope of her chest. 

Black. All of it in black. Black, black, black.

The pencil she lined her eyes with and the powder she brushed over her lids. The bottles, slender and graceful that held her perfume, the heaviness of each scent betraying its delicate bottle. Every item of her clothes and every piece of her jewelry. Every shoe in her trunk. Black.

She came at the time of year when the wind was still undecided whether to blow warm or cool. She came at the time of day that the sky was just splitting open, into reds and oranges, like a peach, bitten into after one day too long on the counter. She came at the hour when the whole farm, for miles either way, smelled faintly of old peaches. She came that year when your sister's cheeks reminded you of peaches, round and blushing bright. 

She came that time of year before the fall, when the air smelled like peaches and the sky looked like peaches, right after the last drop of sticky peach juice dripped from your sister's face to her hands to her feet. 

She came without invitation or welcome, with her black bags and black clothes and nothing was ever the same. None of you were ever the same. Right as the last drop of juice hit the dust, she came strolling into the yard. Her heavy perfume drowned out the smell of peaches, and it never came back. The sky always seemed to go from blue to black. 

honeysuckles.

She said she smelled honeysuckles. 

"There are no honeysuckles." 

"I smell them."

"Well, there aren't any." He followed her through the winding bushes anyway. "It's way too cold. It's not time for honeysuckles - you're out of your - "

He stopped as she turned around to face him, pale blossom in hand. He watched her pull the thin stem easily from the flower, and held it up to his lips. 

He felt confused, like a teacher had marked him wrong on a test, when his answer was right.

"It's - they can't be growing now - it's almost December - "

When she saw he wasn't going to take the stem, she brought it to her own mouth and sipped the syrup easily off. 

She let it drop to the ground and reached for another, shrugging as it if was simple, when it wasn't. 

"They're confused too."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"don't get taken."

best advice i've ever received.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"I am not worried, Harry,"

   said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. "I am with you."

Friday, October 8, 2010

"It's . . . it's magic, what I can do?"

"What is it that you can do?"

"All sorts," breathed Riddle. "I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want them to do, without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who annoy me. I can make them hurt if I want to."


-

Chill bumps raise like braille on my arms every time I read this.

"Harry, suffering like this proves you are still a man!

This pain is part of being human - "

"THEN - I - DON'T - WANT - TO - BE - HUMAN!"




Already finished with the book, but I neglected to post this bit as I was reading through it. It had me in furious tears the first time I read it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Remember Cedric.

Remember, if the time should come when you have to make the choice between what is right and what is easy. Remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory."

Monday, October 4, 2010

"I'm fine," said Harry,

wondering why he kept telling people this, and wondering whether he had ever been less fine.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!" roared Black.

"DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!"

I'm beginning Goblet of Fire now, but that was sticking with me. Felt like it needed sharing.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

hello, all. :)

i'm currently reacquainting myself with the boy in the cupboard under the stairs. it's been a lovely few days.

when i was eleven and in the cupboard under the stairs, he made the dark seem a little less scary. but i guess some books are like that.

join me?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

she was my baby.

and i would give you to have her back.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

jumbalaya dreamin'.

i closed my eyes and
pretended that I
was in louisiana,
closed my eyes and
breathed in sticky air
humid and hot
weighty with hope, and
thought of new orleans,
turn of the century

closed my eyes, and
listened to that hum,
pretended that creole boy
was singing just for me. 

eighteen

looks just like this.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

he told her

that a mother will give up on her daughter, but not her son.

Monday, September 6, 2010

this land.

this is my land.

i have no deeds, no certificates
no men in dark suits witnessed me 
sign my name to stiff sheets of paper,
weighed down with life's work.

but this is my land.

and i claim it.

i was not forced, beaten, chained
traded, enslaved, betrayed
pushed out and pulled at
until cheeks caved 
inward on themselves, until wills did,
giving up and turning grey.

but this is my land

and i claim it. 

this is not the land where my
father's fathers laid first foot
and my mother's sweat was spilled,
where my ancestors afterbirth was dropped
into soil,
but this is my land. 

and i claim it. 

because here, my head was raised
these stars, my eyes have gazed
as hey turned and changed
from infants baby blue to toddler's hazy grey,
to young woman's soft brown

i know these stars
i know this moon
i know this grass
i know these trees

and this is my land. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

i hate when you make me lose faith in people.

but then somebody always gives it back.

i am not my hair.

i am not this skin.  i am not your expectations.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

horsemen.

wrote this almost five years ago. found it and smiled, even though it's not that happy. enjoy. :)
-

i will follow where you go
life, death, or limbo
come hell or high water,
the horsemen of death

look fear in the eye,
and smile.

"you cannot conquer a mountain,"
she told me one day,
"but you can conquer yourself."

so i will follow where you go
life, death, or limbo.

this is not your star spangled banner.

i'm not  here to play with you,
i'm just trying to relay to you 
the reality 
of what it is that we go through

and i shouldn't say we, but i do 
because thankfully, 
i'm still relatively free
to go and say and do like i please
the worse it ever comes to
is looks and comments on the streets
and random selections at airport security

and you won't see it on tv,
but there are places where children 
once ran in the streets
and i say ran, because now
instead of bare feet
bombs rain down like 
stars over the sea

women wail over 
those same children's feet,
now not connected to anything

so while they may look like me,
same bridge of nose, same 
color of teeth,
while they might talk like me
and pray like me, 
and come from me,
they are not like me
and i shouldn't say we.

because at least i know 
what it's like
to be a little bit free. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

my wishing stone

i will not call you my rose
in such an overdone tone, 
i will not compare your eyes
to the sun

i will not equate your hair 
to waves of silk, your hands
to satin

your voice to honey

your voice has always been slightly hoarse,
anyway, your hands worker's rough,
your eyes favor coal more than diamonds,
and your hair splits in places, to grey

you are not a hero of old
and you never know 
what things to say

i always have to call twice
before you answer the phone
it's never in your pocket

but warm wind comes in with you
every night, and your neck 
smells like happy memories 

you check the oil twice a month
and you always call back,
even if i left a message,
just in case.

you are not a gleaming jewel,
nor even a diamond in the rough

you are a smoothed and worn stone
deep in my pocket, that warms
more than it weighs down

and for that reason, it stays. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

i love you

and you don't have to say it back.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

rahma.

in arabic,


the word for womb means mercy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

swollen hearts.

the river was swollen like a 
woman's body, pregnant
for one week too long, like her
feet would swell under the weight
of a second life, like her belly would
swell as her child turned over in womb.

swollen woman gave birth
at the swollen river,
thighs stretched apart, 
tree roots taking place of 
companion's warm fingers,
lapping water
becoming a medicine woman's 
sure hands.

and the tide took place
of undertaker,
sweeping away 
blood, and with it,
all life. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

you and them.

you type like them
and talk like them
and act like them
and walk like them
and wear your sunglasses just like them,
until i can't tell the difference anymore.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

jidi.

my grandfather ran away to fight a war when he was fourteen years old. he came home and married a girl with small hands and green eyes. she slept with her head on his shoulder every night, and this is what we remember.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

sizzling sunsets

We used to sit and listen to the sunset together, and you would tell me things. Now let me tell you something: you have never been more beautiful than when you weren't trying. 

The sunset changed the way your face looked, from light to fading to dark, and the differences only made you more beautiful. It didn't have anything to do with anything else - just that we were there, and we were together, and you were one beautiful thing of a myriad of beautiful things under my eyes.

Back when my eyes saw everything as beautiful. 

So I know things are different now, for me more than you - or maybe for you more than me, it's really hard to judge. But I wanted to let you know that. That you're kind of trying too hard, and that's not what makes you beautiful. 

:)

it's been too long, loves. :) how's the sun?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

maps, wait.

they don't love you like i love you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

jay birds sing

and the passing of things.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

day nine.

wednesday. may 19, 2010.

-

you are greedy
in the most internal
kind of way, grabbing up 
every snatch of memory,
every bit of joy your 
fingers can grasp.

holding it tight,
building it up 
inside your chest,
keeping it all
for yourself.

you do not want
to share this place.

day eight.

tuesday. may 18, 2010. 

-


there is nothing
like being remembered,
like knowing that somewhere,
sometime, somehow
you left an impression
on someone.

even the round man 
who runs the corner shop,
and never takes your money. 

day seven.

monday. may 17, 2010. 

-


she came and sat,
filled the room with her voice,
filled the yard with her laughter.
her embraces stealing your breath,
her presence spilled out over 
the courtyard walls.

and her sorrow,
her sorrow seeped
all the way 
to the very borders
of tripoli. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

day six.


sunday. may 16, 2010. 

-

she thinks maybe
this is the summer
she'll come into her gift.

if not, she can always
sit on open verandas
and drink tea over
libyan sunsets and
cuts glances from
the corners of her eyes. 

day five.

saturday. may 15, 2010.

-


i wonder 
if he misses his aunts cooking,
or the way his sister slept, one arm
thrown over his back.
or the way his father touched their heads
one after another 
before he left in the morning. 

i wonder if he misses
the way the sun sizzled
before it sunk, blazing,
a nigerian sunset. 

i wonder 
when he calls my aunt mama,
if he curls up at night,
young, so young,
and wishes for home
like an ache. 

day four.

friday. may 14, 2010.

-


the sky was grey today.
and close,
close enough to touch
if only my fingers
stretched that far. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

day three.

thursday. may 13, 2009.

-

jet-lag,
worn-out clothes, 
cross-airport races
and suitcase handle blisters
aside, 
it's so, so good
just to be here. 

day two.

wednesday. may 12, 2010.

-

citizen m hotel
reminds me
of a dream
i had once.

life operated
by remote.

i spent the entire night
making the lights
flash from blue to green. 

reality - checking out, 
please. 

libya in lowercase - volume two, day one

tuesday. may 11, 2010.


-

there is nothing
more confusing 
or frustrating 
or mind-spinning
than saying goodbye,
except saying goodbye
in the middle 
of hartsfield airport's
security check. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

currently: amsterdam

i am safe.

alhamdulillah, alhamdullah.

gratitude for every prayer. much love.

Monday, May 10, 2010

where we were.

and when they entered,
they saw the message
on the walls

"we were here,
and now we're gone
now you are here
and we're alone

just know that we 
waited for you 
while we could,
when we were here. "

she grew up good, she grew up slow.♥.

((couldn't wait to get going, but wasn't quite ready to leave. ))

just something beautiful for you, to pass the time.

much love, much love.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

space-holder

they told her to remember that there was more to her than him.

but the thing was, there wasn't.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

love feels like

it's like
tripping,
falling,
slipping,
sliding,
wildly,
headfirst,
into you. 

mama say

string along tales of a 
revolution born of 
spit and blood

canada, mama say
one day we go

she told me not to 
leave the house that night
not to leave 
into a darkness
full of screams and 
blackness and 
blood. 

should have listened.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

day eighteen.

circa 1800.
-
she was always a woman
born in the wrong time,
a few centuries too late
for her heart to make 
an impact.

she would have liked 
to change something,
to have a permanent place
in an interchangeable world.

day seventeen.

chalk. 
-

he made chalk murals,
his hands always caked
with the ash of his art.

pinks and blues and
greens, sifting together
to form grey coating against
his working palms.

he drew a rising sun,
unfolding from the sidewalk,
to shine on forgotten flower beds.

he snuck into playgrounds
of inner-city schools,
to draw happy pictures,
something beautiful
for children who lived
in a world of locks
to wake up to.

and one night,
he crept into your driveway
and drew a woman with bare shoulders,
her back a graceful arch
her hair, fiery red
whipping around in
imaginary wind.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

day sixteen.

missed.
-
her aunt told her that they were the kind of women
that make men fall in love with them

soft
and lovely
and light

she told her that she had it,
that thing that sends men spinning.
said that it was in her blood, her eyes.

she said it wasn't conscious,
wasn't to be abused,
that it was wrong
to try to lure in a man
who had no choice. 

her aunt tells her that one day, she too
will make men kneel at her feet.

it was never something
any of them wanted,
five sisters,
women scorned,
losing in love
with the only men
who ever mattered.

the next day, she kisses her aunt 
and steps outside. looks across the wall 
at the boy with shining eyes and ringing laugh,
and thinks that the gift missed her. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

day fifteen.

skyla. 
-
this is for you

not just for you
but for me too

memories taken down
onto paper,
made alive 
a second time.

summers on 
wrap-around couches
and writing on backs,
t-shirts pulled up
over heads.

feet burnt on asphalt,
and pizza,
and too many kids for one place
but making it work.

a short
yellow jumpsuit 
worn every other day
and chlorine-gobbled
hair.

further back.

homemade play-dough
and cupcakes,
burnt carpet 
and purple hands
on a plate.

old home videos
of easter morning,
shared candy
and snickering
under beds.

long hair
and disney movies
and falling asleep
before new years.

seventeen years.
seventeen memories.
seventeen kisses. 

day fourteen.

love songs.
-

she asked her mother
once
why every song
on the radio
was about love.

her mother told her
it was because love
was the most 
important thing
in the entire world. 

she still thinks
about it,
every time
she twists 
the dial on. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

day thirteen.

tepid. 
-

she loved him
for his heat.

his lips were 
hot
his body was
hot
his words were
blazes,
his eyes
held fire.

so
when he kissed her,
hands in hair,
lips tepid,
she already knew
what he wanted to say. 

day twelve.

soda car crash.
-

they always
jinxed

same words at the 
same time, like
they were the same
person, one
mind wrapped 
around another,
tight.

same outfits
on the same days,
same interests,
same heartbeat.

tha-thudding.
tha-thudding.
tha-thudding.

jinx.
jinx.
jinx.

their last jinx
was turning
at the same time.