The Mundane, Sublime and Fantastical: 165 New Poems (26-30)


2014-08-04 15.47.32

Last Tuesday you were standing right there

without your feet touching the ground

There you were, your hair whipping about your face

& your hands clasped & bound in the farthest corner of the ceiling were three right angles meet

your arms outstretched, handless


Last Tuesday, you said you were thirsty

Shall we go for a drink? you asked

I thought it was weird that you should be ready to go for a drink

just because you had your jacket and shoes on


How about your hands? I asked.

I only take them out on Wednesdays and Fridays when I need to use them

& I only let my feet touch the ground on Monday, Thursdays and Saturdays


You’re not Jesus on the cross. I don’t like it, I said

Well, you’re no devil on the mountain top and I still need a drink, you said

Are you coming?




2014-08-04 16.58.39


Last Word

If that was the last word you’d ever utter

If that was the one

That turned earth’s belly outwards

With red fiery wordless screams

Beyond glowing

It would twist your tongue

Swelling that the back of your throat

Like God’s muttering of that first word


If that was the word that blinked out existence

Drawing itself out

Groaning like a birthing, like coming into being

Shredding that tongue

Melting, moulting

Beyond babies, beyond love, that last word

Would wrench the bejeezus out

Spaghetti like

White strips of fat, skin, pasta sauce blood, gore


That single word

That might have precipitated the beginning of the world

Tell me you won’t say it

Tell me you won’t say it

Tell me you won’t send the stars into the skies

Beaches outlined with white sands, black sand, red sand, mud, blood, baobab trees straining for light

By their roots


Keep it, don’t utter it

Don’t utter it it

Swallow it back

Let it germinate into something beautiful,

Something soft, something rhythmic

Like your heart and mine







This is your death

I don’t care to hear it

This is your death

Swallow it.

Let it grow into something beautiful

Something soft, something rhythmic

Something that will remain contained underneath your skin, now grey

Beyond your smile, now dry

Your eyes, now pale

This is your death

I’ll hold on to you until you implode inside me

The idea of you

Still brilliant with unstated grief



2014-08-02 20.25.13

Last Request


Just before you lose your veil and offer everything to him

(You know this. And I know that you already know this. But know this from me. You’re such a tease)

One tousle, one shake of that fine head of hair

One last caress, Salome

Your fingertips against my scalp

Once more my face between your breasts

Once more, for the last time, before you offer everything else to him

A kiss on my nose, one on my lips, one on each cheek

A last lingering one on my forehead, Salome

Even as your eyes are locked in by his eyes

Just before you give in, Salome, one look back

A last glance so I can see the length of your neck

A single wish, Salome

Your voice after the dance, lingering in my ear

Give me this one last thing

That I can take with me, Salome

Your voice bearing my name – a testament of me in your voice

This is the right thing

This is the right thing to do

My face between your breasts, a caress on my scalp, kisses

Whisper my name against my ear, Salome

Before you offer my head to the king.




2014-08-02 20.54.12

Stuff to do When Your Hometown is Burning

  1. Finish up your cup of tea before it gets cold, because you know you hate it cold.
  2. Think about calling your mother.
  3. Don’t call your mother. She’ll freak out.  Asking questions like hail pelting down, like pepper sneezed into your face, like unrelenting projectile vomit on your recently cleaned carpet.  Don’t call you mother.  She’ll freak out as if you knew much more than the headlines proclaim:  Gulu is in Flames.
  4. Change the channel.  Change. Change. Change. Nothing. None of the news media will carry it, and why should they?  Gulu is burning, but does not even warrant a lined script flowing at the bottom of your TV screen.
  5. Return to the internet site.  Read the article again.  Gulu is Burning.  Still burning.  Same title renders the burning a continuous and never ending act – Gulu is hell.
  6. Email a friend.  Enclose the link.
  7. Read your friend’s response – oh dear.
  8. Oh dear you, oh dear me, oh dear everything around you –scattered books on the table, papers, receipts from a cup of coffee and muffin that you hated, the latest O Magazine proclaiming secrets to an long and joyful life complete with beautiful skin – your hometown is burning.
  9. The dishes are stacked up in the sink.  They always are. Grape stalks on the kitchen counter, coffee grinds on the floor by the trash can.  A damp kitchen cloth.  Your hometown is burning.
  10. The face of a woman you know appears on the computer devoid of any apparent emotion.  What does it feel like when your hometown is burning?  How can you show it?  Where are the T-shirts, the arm bands, the youtube clips, the tweets, the letter writers, the dissenters, the peace lovers, the protesters, the batons, the loudspeakers, the police, the guns, the teargas, the burning tires in the middle of the road, the pickup trucks, goons throwing politicians to the back of the track and speeding away?  Where are the signs that your hometown is burning?
  11. Pink and yellow tulips in a vase.  Not any less gorgeous, even as dead stalks that cling to any semblance of life –opening up to the light through the blinds and closing up in the evening, sucking at what juices might be mixed in the water.
  12. Wash some dishes.
  13. Shower.
  14. Fix your hair.
  15. Wear lipstick.
  16. Remember to take your shades – it’s sunny outside.
  17. Call your mother.
  18. Listen to your mother freak out just like you thought she would . Why should this be happening to us again, why? When did it start? Who is doing this?  Not again, she wails, not again.
  19. Gulu is in flames as the fourth division pours out into the streets showing firepower, manly power, deadly, manly firepower.
  20. Your hometown is burning. So you take the bus, go to work, mark papers, submit a short story and think about dinner.



2014-08-03 11.18.32


A Moment for Ali Farzat

This is not a love song

This is no revolution song

Cue redemption

Cue freedom

Cue democracy

And all those crazy ideas

That mean nothing when you can’t be yourself

This is not a poem

Not even a love poem


This is no poem for lost souls

The dead can go to hell

Where else are they going to go?

Abandoning us to this

Leaving us without love

Without song, without redemption

Freedom, democracy


This is nothing but a moment

Held among the stars


Stop, they said, stop

You can’t do that any more

So the stars shifted

Held the explosions like a breath sucked in

You can’t do that anymore

Do it and prepare to lose it all


Ali held his pencil in the air

Do it, they repeated, and prepare to lose it all


What good is a pencil in mid air

What good is a song unsung

A poem unrecited

A blank canvass, a baby unbirthed

What good is anything when you don’t have

Love, freedom, democracy and all those crazy ideas?


Ali had his pencils

Ali had pens, chalk, markers

Ali had pictures in his head that infuriated them

Enough to say stop that!

Do it again and prepare to lose it all


So Ali held his pencil in midair

Ali held his pencil inside that moment that the stars stood still

Warding off explosions in the sky

Waiting, waiting


Ali held his pencil mid air

While love, freedom and democracy

Danced about his eyes and ears

Like crazy ideas waiting to coalesce on paper


This is not a love song

This is no revolution

This is no redemption song

Thundering through the ground

This isn’t even a poem

Just a moment like the one when Ali held his pencil in midair

Imagining crazy ideas

Wanting for the encounter between paper and pencil

A marker, two, an image, two

Is all Ali wanted

To meet pencil to paper


Instead, Ali’s hand met the power of another man’s muscle

An arm free from those crazy ideas

Armed with the certainty of action and action just now

Do it and prepare to lose everything, they said

So Ali’s pencil never met the paper


What’s there to gain when your wrists are broken

When your body is so badly beaten

When stars fall from the sky

And no one sees them land among us?

What’s there to be free from, to love, to democratize when you can’t draw?

What’s there but nerve endings on fire, exploding stars contained in your palms

The world’s pain, now reflected in your body

The world`s pain, the one you can’t draw, Ali

What else is there, Ali?


This wasn’t a poem either

Just a moment

Just a moment between you and I

Between you and I, Ali


I write, because you can’t draw right now

I write, because you can’t draw.

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