graduation

them college days
so far away
as if time did no time in memories
leaving behind only yesterdays

you are young, oh, you are young;
the world is in your hands;
you are fierce.
you live as if
you will be back yet again.

what do i tell you but smiles
and wishes upon you the soaring high
of spirit, of passion, of desire,
for we all are only here, like this, once.

every what-if belongs to a time
you have not yet known. i love you,
i wish to see you grow
among your people
where you can be children
and you can become adults.

each of life’s graduations
is but a reminder that you are still riding the current –
sometimes along it, sometimes against it,
and you will fall and you will get up.
and your hearts will survive
being broken a million times.
you’ll feel like it’s all over a million times,
you’ll feel like you’ve found what you’re meant to find a million times.
and one day it will all fall into place –
the puzzle you have been solving
without knowing it even exists.
you’ll look back to this day
and nothing in the world can replace
the smiles and tears under every cap
the way the wind caressing your gowns
as you say goodbye to the moments you will never forget.

so smile, graduates, and remember how you feel today,
because you’ve lived a kind of love that only exists
because everyone else has also been in it,
whether or not you have truly known one another.
the feeling palpitating within your chests
as you walk in lines, as your names are called, as you listen to the last speech, as you throw your caps up in the air –
feel it everywhere, let it stay with you forever,
because one day,
you’ll be where i am now,
and wish nothing else but to be able to be around
my graduating class
all together again at last
before yet another start
of another life.

In Spite (Nizar Qabbani)

In Spite

1961
by Nizar Qabbani 

 

In spite of all our conflicts
and all our resolutions
that we can’t make it work,
in spite of the animosity,
the obstinacy
and inhibitions,
in spite of the absence of our smiles
and the lack of communication,
there must be a mystery
that unifies our destinies –
brings our footsteps closer
and blends you into me,
melting your warm hands with mine.
*
In spite of all our differences,
our unmatched temperaments,
the dark days of detachment
and the retrieval of all the gifts and photographs –
in spite of the dreariness,
I still believe
that destiny insists
on our togetherness
and rejects
all our arguments
*
In spite of the autumn of our relationship
and the bleeding going deep inside us,
in spite of our persistence
to put an end to our drama
at any cost,
in spite of our determination
that I won’t
and you won’t –
I doubt that we can.
In spite of all these conflicts,
we are helpless
in the face of our fate.

How alike we are
in our spirits,
in our thoughts,
and even in our books and colours.
Isn’t all of this
profound evidence
that we are friends of the same destiny,
traveling the same road
despite all our insanities?

 

Bibliography

Qabbānī, Nizār, Nayef Al-Kalali, and Lisa Kavchak. “In Spite.” Republic of Love: Selected Poems in English and Arabic. London: Kegan Paul International, 2003. 40-45. Print.

Lazy day with a touch of suspense

one day, he woke up,
and the day felt like a thousand others.
he reached for the phone and texted her.
she did not respond.
maybe work was busy, he thought.
the day went by. he put
lots of creamer and sugar
in his coffee. the coffee spilled
over the counter, dripped
onto the floor. he sighed and
wiped it carelessly, so it smeared
into brown patches and lines.
he got a book and started to read.
then he put it down and grabbed the phone again.
still no reply from her. he sent another text, asking
where she was. maybe she was very busy, he thought.
the afternoon arrived. he took a nap.
got into a bad dream. something happened,
he forgot. he almost always forgot why
he had cried hopelessly in such dreams.
she still did not write him back.
he wondered if he should call her.
but maybe not.
she got annoyed when work was busy and he called her and she could not talk right away, for she would not stop wondering what it was that he wanted to talk about. and it would probably lead to a small argument, which would lead to bigger arguments, which would end up with her being in tears and him feeling guilty, which would end up with them trying to make it up with sex, which would end up with him not being able to come, which would end up with her feeling upset because he could not come, and him feeling incompetent because she could not come either, and them being all melancholic and what not, and so on and so forth.
so he decided it was best not to call her.
she did not come home at the usual hour.
he kept glancing at the door, peaking his ears to noises from the street
the way a dog waited for its owner to be home at a certain time.
with every passing minute he grew more and more worried.
he texted her again. then immediately after called her.
and he called and he called and he called.
it kept going into voice mail.
he hated voice mail. he left her a few messages.
no responses.
she got home a few hours after,
looking tired as usual. apologized for being late.
said traffic was bad, then she got too hungry she
stopped at a diner and had a quick bite.
she wanted to call him but there was no reception.
her phone was acting up.
something like that.
he did not really smell food from her
not that he had enough time to take a sniff
for she had gone straight to the bathroom
to take a shower. when she got out,
he was sitting at the table, staring into the air
into nothing. her scent was soft, familiar,
and he could feel her smile and gaze upon him.
she sat down and kissed the side of his forehead,
asked him if he had eaten dinner.
he said he was not hungry. she took his hand,
placed her head on his shoulder, and closed her eyes.
they sat still for a few minutes. then he asked
if she wanted anything from the fridge.
i would have some apple cider, she said.
he got them some apple cider. they drank it.
then she said let’s go to bed.
he followed her. they got into bed,
turned the head lamp off, kissed each other good night,
and closed their eyes.
he wondered what was on her mind.
she wondered what was on his mind.
and they kept wondering
until they both
fell asleep.

written 30 November 2010

unintentions

some lives are god’s intentions gone wrong

executed way beyond kindness:

dreams taken away, dismembered, thoroughly un-remembered
&
smiles dissected to the core, where sadness lies, falling apart in broken nights
&
words scrambled with silenced anger, spoken in tone of non-lovers
&
kisses numbed by a million thoughts dying in the mind, slipping down against low sighs
&
teardrops clogged in eardrums, blowing up the misery of the moment

dark moods today?
no.
this is life, simply.
that is
all.

Dec 1, 2012 

spring

i say hello to the sky, and i say goodbye
to the nights that ended on a morning like this,
with sunlight embracing the brick walls
and the winds around brown trees’ arms,
together laughing and dancing.

here i quietly sing along with the rhythm of spring.
the windows finally open, for it is hard to turn away
from a brisk, beautiful day, from the wishes
of the lover who insists we shall be on our way,
taking passionate laughters towards the beaming park.

it takes longer to walk with arms around shoulders,
but the young does not care about time, does she?
she swirls in rhymes, bringing forth her own tunes of shine.
she has made me once again remember
the liveliness which follows the ache of winter.

for a., my forever spring
Mar 8, 2012

letter to you who cried because i was cold

that day, the world was beautiful because of you,
but i, long before the dawn, knew there would be no hope
in staying, and yes, i think you are my world
when i am with you. but that is not the point,
that is not the point at all. the origin of our feelings
had nothing to do with where we were going,
nothing to do with the saddest of days and nights,
and the tears that we shed at the wrong times,
and the loving words we spoke at the few times
when we thought we were in love. there were moments
and there were others. i could not carry you at all times
in my conscience. do you understand? i do not hate you, no,
it is quite the contrary. much so quite the contrary.
i do not need anybody else in the name of fairness
and common sense. but i do want you. times when i
thought everything was coming to an end i
thought of you, wanting to rush to you and say
“i love you” exactly how i used to wish someone,
just one, only one, would say it to me.
but the current of life and this shameful desire to live
always dragged me back, not letting me leave.

i do not mean to make you wait until the lights go off
to bare my soul to you,
to overwhelm you with undivided attention
(not the kind i have always given you in our presence,
but one that gives you the strongest sense of eternity,
the only time when death loses its charm and power.)
i do not mean to bring those tears upon your eyes.
but grief makes a person whom he is
while happiness makes him whom he thinks he wants to be.
are you whom you want to be? are you when i am holding you tight
in my arms, hearing my breath pacing against your heartbeats?

when i am with you
i am not whom i am or whom i want to be
but exactly what i must be if life is real, and death is also real,
and nothing else matters but the truth of you.

you asked me with tears down at your throat how i felt about you
how i truly felt about you, not how i thought you would want to be perceived. so here it is.
i am sorry that there are and always will be
disappointments. but disappointments, more often than not,
are so much needed for us not to lose touch with our truest feelings,
don’t you think?

 

 

Feb 26, 2011

Our Winter Song

it doesn’t really matter
that one day in the winter
you were mesmerized watching her
lick tiny transparent bubbly flakes of snow
that fell upon her tongue

but ever since, whenever your skin is closest to me,
your eyes turn away from mine.
you can’t bring yourself to look into my soul and see yours,
can you? our love is something you must convince yourself
to be true. you have been through many things like this
even your kisses have worn out. you have no desire of me
except for the madness of my words – encouraged by your
apparent existence in the world and within
my own. you are the worst pretender i have ever met
and the most sincere soul of misery i have
ever loved.  i’m sorry for the pain you have brought
upon yourself because you long for pure love, true love,
and you can’t afford to break my heart the way
someone else broke yours. so you stay, so you smile,
so you do what you think will make my sadness a bit
easier. you think so, you do. you didn’t think i would
be able to hear the silent sigh you left
on the side of my neck as I held on
to your arms during the loneliness of a
cold winter night

this song is for you and me as we walk hand in hand
away from it all
knowing we will from now on go forever
into the breadth of our longest winter
that spreads itself over the course
of a slow white death

That night when we walked lost in the forest

Give me a sky full of stars,
give me you,
then I shall have nothing to lose.

Walk me through the woods
of your true sanity.
Let me take you on our own trail.
You could tell
from the sounds of broken leaves,
dried branches, and sparkling stars,
no one else has ever gone this far
to find love.

Hands in each other’s coat pocket,
we walk toward the
empty center of our hearts,
listen to our favorite music,
the soundtrack of the night
while the stars are dancing to the notes of our voices,
laughters, and the warmth of our fingers
upon each other’s smiles.

Take me home with your eyes,
leave our field of stars behind.
It will be there if we come back.
Even if we never will.

Typical Gossip

did you see her?

oh, dear god, why
did she pull
the trigger?
where did she get
the gun?

she was sweet
and caring
and everything
but now she is
dead
no one thought she was
the kind
who could take her own
life

did you hear
she left a notebook
full of her life secrets?

damn, I wonder
what she wrote
in it

do you think
it would explain
everything?

I wonder
what she was
thinking
that moment
when she was alone,
in her room,
with the ugly gun
staring right into
her heart.

Night

sometimes I feel my words falling off me one by one and I cannot catch them and I can only watch them

like that rainfall that
cannot be stopped
over the roof of my apartment

and I get lost in
the growing absence of you
it consumes me

I keep
reaching out my hands
only to see fingers hanging in the air

you’ve never held them

I wish I could dream up the warmth of skin
but my imagination has its limits
I feel helpless in my crippled poetry

you are already forgetting me
and I, not sure what to do with my dying love for you,
get up around 3 a.m.
and make myself
a cup of hot milk

there is no tomorrow
only here, this warm whiteness,
sip by sip

the night drips
out of my eye sockets
contaminating my milk

Denial

I did not try to forget you.

At the end of my day,
as I was crashing on my bed,
your voice was resounding in my head,
Don’t fall asleep in your work clothes.

The scent of food you made in my kitchen
the aroma of your face, after-shave
the angle your lips formed with a smile
the long fingers tracing down my face
– they were still there,
as if you’d never gone away.

Why are you still thinking about him?
He wasn’t worth it

Of course he was the whole time we spent together.
Lovers know best how long is forever.
Those moments I had with him,
he was worth every one of it.

The streets, the highways, the mountains, the sea
Rain, snow, winds, moon, sunrises, sunsets
We walked, we ran, we drove, we flew through them all.
Until now I cannot get used to the emptiness
of my hands.

The blinds of my window haven’t changed,
you said you liked them, for they blocked
glances from those highly unwelcome.
Thus when we made love, they were never up.

They have remained there after you left.
Glances vanished,
and so did the sun.

And so did my attempt
to forget everything about you.
It does not concern me whether you are here.
To me you are a matter of fact.
To me you are intact.
To me you love me still.

A Happy Marriage

And no matter how much he claimed he loved her with every piece of his existence,
he was always busy between 6 and 8 p.m. every Tuesday

8:30 p.m. every Tuesday, when he got home, he would
go straight to the hot bath she had prepared for him. She would like him
to do that before seeing her and kissing her, so he
would smell like sweet lavender, and she
would smell like whatever served at dinner
that night.

Strength of a Woman

And Mama said children of strength never cried in front of others, for
tears proved a lack of control. I asked, did you not cry
when you saw me for the first time? She said,
no, I restrained from screaming, and I was
relieved.
With a smile,
perhaps.

Ever since, happiness to me
is the emptying of a stuffed stomach.

A Different Kind of Eternity

in the swollen summer days, the pressure
of what is coming to an end, the silent chaos
of the surroundings, and
the strange comfort of the new wind
completely took over everything else.
hence the slow details of day-to-day occurrences.

for there seemed to be no transition between day and night,
and light was slowly dipping into darkness,
and darkness was gently unfolding on light.

the intertwined arrays of sunshine on the clouds,
the fading sunset,
the smoke fondling the moon
all happened. all vanished.

when the eyes closed and opened
they anticipated the same thing,
and so they were served.

the aftertaste of a night’s vivid creations was sweet
like honey
subtle
like tea
and lasting
like memories that were created to haunt for a lifetime.

what was remembered and
what was forgotten
all blended together.

thus past wounds were healed,
laughs were concealed behind lips,
and time was dissolved into air
to sink them all, to rise them all,
to sew fantasies seamlessly into reality.

and maybe the dream would last,
from the juxtaposition of breath to breath,
into eternity.