Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Look At These...

When Long Beards Meant Patience - An Experiment In Words

Sun. Stronger than Los Angeles. Hot and wet in Cordoba. Still the gypsies. They wear thick layers. No matter how rosy their babies cheeks get. They ask for dollars. We give coins. No. Dollars. They say. They are greedy. We learn to give nothing. To ignore. Their voices. We live here now. We learn like locals. To not find sorrow in such pleas. Tea houses are of the past. Kept on cobblestone streets. When the Muslims. The Jews. The Christians. Lived here in peace. 500, 000 inhabitants in the latter half of the tenth century. Then most populated city in Europe. Perhaps the world. Time when learning from each other took place. Before bus bombs. Midnight raids. Before long beards were something to be afraid of. When they meant wisdom. Being a patient man. Over past few years over 3,000 immigrants have died en route to Spain. More security systems. They take more dangerous routes now. 
Water pipes. Hookah. Shishah. Nargeela. Pots of tea. Refilled by our Morrocan friend. Asden. Suenos de Andalucia. Like a dream. The tea relaxes us. Makes the tiles on the walls more blue. Seem closer to our faces. Makes everything seem like a dream. I ask him in nervous Spanish. Where I can find hashish. He smiles with small teeth. Says here. Asian girl from San Diego. In my program. Tells us little kids pull eyes with their fingers when they pass her on the streets. They say. Chino. Chino. Her family is from Thailand.
The mullet is back. Even handsome men. With mullets turn ugly. Cold beer. Olives in a bowl. Afternoon snack. Half of non EU immigrants in Andalucia from Morocco. The Moroccans sell scarves in the plaza. One looks like my dad. Has same round belly. Jolly smile. He tells me he’ll give me a discount. Only if I buy two. I buy three. Mostly for the discount. Simpsons in Spanish. Same stories. Voices higher pitched though. Throws everything off a little. We watch this every day over lunch. Maria is too young to be my mother. But here she is. Making me ham and cheese sandwiches. Frying everything. Re-using grease. As if something precious. There are no vegetables in this house. Today instead of Simpsons. A family stands on a roof. A neighborhood sinking in New Orleans. 
            Asden invites us over to his house. Further than where we usually go. No cab will take us. We take the bus. He wears a crisp dress shirt. A table covered. Feta cheese. Warm pita bread. Chorizo. Hummus. Dates. A bowl of grapes. He’s taken his time with this. I eat the feta with fingers. Think of my mom. Her loss of appetite. How many more months of chemo. Windows open for more air. Asden rolls hashish joints. Four of them. Passes them around our circle of five. Almost one for each of us. As soon as one leaves my hand. Another arrives. Feels like we are sitting for too long. Everyone feels like their own planet. Made of different things. Far away from me. My planet. Through the windows a loud flapping noise. Three of them. Too loud to be birds. We duck. Run into the other room. Watch Asden hit blurred black with pillows. He looks like a warrior. They fly back out. He closes the window. Bats he says. Just bats.
More things fried. Still the family stands on the roof. Someone videotaping this. Someone watching this close enough to help. Someone can show us this. Someone can get  higher ratings because of this. But without touching this family’s planet. Someone can put their hands out and reach. But doesn’t. Everything is covered in water. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Once, Once

Once, she said this hot sun
hit her head so hard, fired up
all the molecules inside of her,
all it did was make her think love.

Once, she wrote a poem about
this folded neatly
in an envelope she sealed
with her saliva for him, all
the time wishing it was a kiss.

Once, there was a kiss,
but also there was nothing.

Once, before everything was,
the sun conversed with the still
black moon, wondering what lonely
means, if life could exist
under such a pitch black night.

The sun said, I will pour
everything into you, so when I leave
this place you will not forget what
light feels like, you will not forget
my hot lava love.

And so there was a marriage,
With candles everywhere, stars really,
no minister or witness to clap or to cry,
the sun’s bright arms stretching, wrapping
itself around the dark moon, and
only the Earth, watching, waiting
for a kiss between the two.

Once, not too long after,
the moon feel in love with
the pull of the ocean.

Once, he got an envelope, opened wet
edges, read words, ate them up
like expensive oranges.

Once, love grew forth from a mouth
like a tree with too many leaves,
covered all things like a warm mother’s hand.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fly, Howl, Love : A Tribute To The Life Of Forugh Farrokhzad *

Our house was at the end of an alley,
at the end of all things it seemed
when we were little girls living
among the shadows of
the walls,
the trees bearing figs, sour

And Forugh, always with her notebook,
filling those pages with what?
It seemed so big in her small hands then,
that notebook,
as if she herself could fit inside those pages.

She would climb trees,
hop on walls,
howl like a wolf,
fight with boys she would rather have
been loving.

She put her arms out one moonless night,
pretended to be an airplane, to be the entire sky,
and I watched from the dull pond, home
to the red goldfish and brown frogs,
because my eyes were stuck on her.
Everyone’s eyes were stuck on her.

At sixteen,
when she married, moved to a city named
after a song,
she found something like freedom
in plucked eyebrows,
eyes lined thick with black,
in painted lips red,
and short, short skirts.

But more than that
it was perhaps her disheveled hair,
those ink stained hands
as blue as oceans on a map,
taking over the entire earth it would seem with
such small hands.
Holding a paper that had been folded and
squeezed between her fingers
for days, years, her entire life
as she walked into that editor’s office.

They would call her a poetess,
because poet would mean
being a woman didn’t matter.
And it always matters.

And even in such freedom,
she lost him.
An unfit mother they proclaimed,
a whore making love to all the world
with her words.

I have sinned a rapturous sin
in a warm enflamed embrace.
Sinned in a pair of vindictive hands,
arms violent and ablaze.

When someone wants to reach the heart
of this Earth,
it becomes impossible
to not always do just this.

I want to hang my heart like
A ripe fruit
On every branch of every tree.

Even in the beginning, even on
that fig tree at the end of the alley,
at the end of all things,
she hung it there too.
It still sways in the damp air
as if no one is watching.

There is no box large enough to hold
the way a woman
sees a naked body,
to hold such small hands,
her hands, with those large blue inked oceans
like true, replenished skin.

I will not speak of death,
of cold lips,
and the movement of machines,
of skin and bone touching concrete loud enough for
all to hear.
But I will say that always, always at the center of it,
even by that dull pond as I watched her write,
fly, howl, it was always love.

Yes, so love begins,
and though the road’s end is out of sight
I do not think of the end
for it is the loving I so love.           

She was buried under the snow.

Perhaps the truth was those two young hands
those young hands
buried beneath the snow-
and in the coming year when spring mates with sky behind the window,
fountains of green saplings, will erupt-
saplings that bloom, beloved, my truest friend.

*Based on a “A Brief Biography” in Sin-Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad      
  translated by Sholeh Wolpe

The Winter Boyfriend

Yes, fall is here. The moon is out sooner, we all have mashed potatoes on our minds, and apparently everyone is trying to find a lover before Christmas rolls around. Just yesterday you were half naked on the beach reveling in the sun and your single-hood, planning out your summer rendezvous over a pitcher of beer. Now with Halloween behind you, with the inevitable realization that it soon will be cold and rainy, that you'd rather be wrapped up in a blanket with someone else to keep you warm, that holidays mean family, which means questions, lots of questions, and expectations, lots of them, are we all just rushing to find that special someone...even if he's not so special?

A few years back, visiting some friends in New York just prior to the winter season, we came up with the term "winter boyfriend". Someone, in essence, who would make it easy for you to never have to leave your house, showing up with hot soup and warm cocoa even a blanket to wrap around you on those cold winter nights. Someone to take home to your family, just so your mom can stop asking you if you're a lesbian.  I'm not saying the "winter boyfriend" is essential, or even necessary, considering you can watch Netflix on your computer, and my roommate makes a kick ass lentil soup. Things are looking good, but could he, perhaps make things better? I don't know, I would tell you if I did, but I've never had one of my own.

Maybe that's why couples have been popping up left and right, or maybe you just weren't noticing before. I doubt it, you would notice these things.  There's something about this time of year that makes us all just want to be loved, and maybe that's OK, normal by some standards. So I'm going to say it, a lot of people love you, they really do. I'm one of them. So enjoy the love you are privileged enough to have, be grateful for that because your winter boyfriend, well, he may be busy until spring.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Things To Be Seen...


Just Bodies, Only Light

Every morning I expect San Francisco rain,
but umbrellas aren’t what they used to be.
The sun comes instead, lights up the hills,
the houses – the pinks, the blues, the yellows.
And I begin to think everything
I’ve ever heard is a lie.
That truth like this sharp light peering
through my kitchen window,
will never last,
was never here at all.

Even love,
because it felt me in that bed,
with curtains pulled,
sheets awry,
it twisted that womanness into me,
with an arm outstretched waiting for
my head to rest.

But that was just you,
I see now a boy trying
to be a man,
with tattooed stories I will
never know,
just another body in a bed.

You zipped up,
made promises to me
with cold metal in between
your fingers, as I
wondered if I could keep love
in only a room.

And in that darkness,
but outside
the sun being Sunday and all,
I agreed,
convinced myself too
soon, that your body
was not just a body,
that this light
had been here
all along.