The heart perhaps will not survive the ghost, this haunting is deadly…I thought I saw you three times yesterday and twice last week; teasing at the edges
peripheral vision taunting, and then
there was that wobble again, soul quake
Who knows the way my skin burns better than you, cheeks that redden in poppies lately but yield no opiates to soothe
"You could power three city blocks, maybe four." But that smirk caps the sum of your observations.
Is what I should have said more often, should have been in state of
Should not have, oh eyes
This is not a place to ponder such things, the price of tomatoes has doubled in one year and shadows with guns say, “Behold your bogeymen oh land.”
You are not here for this.
Bloods too close to latitude and longitude and my face in flames
You are a beekeeper now. From the rooftops you see everything
(you see me).
I know that now, that you see, while
My heart wobbles every time I don’t
This morning in sleep-eyed wakes of a talking fish in a suitcase,
just a favor for a friend
The fish is charming and needs transport but I have grave doubts, grave doubts
Will he survive such a journey, will border control catch his scent?
My heart fears for him, grows troubled at a four hour delay
I fear he worries, grows claustrophobic,
What will I find at journey’s end?
This morning I wake pondering the fate of a blue carp smuggled in my suitcase
A favor for a friend, and he was ever so polite
Who could refuse?
Spin her round again or flip, Dia comes up top no matter. This
is a day with too many words between them but not enough Derrida, too much Barthes but only the early years
The cosmos is brimming, black sun full;
see hot air balloon, see zeppelin
Dia wants it to mean something when she hikes up her skirt
wants to blush now, wants not to then
Dia wants it to mean something when they tug at hemlines
Wants too much
Her mother laughs uncomfortably, “You are not a romantic.”
A girl like wild territory, who will govern it?
But Dia feels, entirely too much
(tomes on post-Enlightenment Germany aside)
Subtitles this, ‘Laughter in Falsetto’
The Hindenburg is not the issue, as so many brief moments in time, read this as an eco-political history of hydrogen
Spin her round, spin her, dizzy her up
Dia never comes up tops
not in the whole history of spin and tumble, that is a fact
when she is spinning she thinks
when hands fumble;
she thinks of two Adams when she is trapped some nights between a body and a wall
And then wants
The currents in the sea where she grew up have claimed more lives than bullets
(and that is saying something when war also had teeth in that town)
She thinks of being dragged under, wants more than muffled sounds
and hands that fumble
Thinks, are the others screaming on the inside but smiling sweetly, is this
Shakespeare in Beirut
Hamlet in Mar Elias
Show me your canines, please
"Yeah they just got here." Bassil tilts his head towards the couches. Mo frowns almost imperceptibly before muttering, "Fucking twins get in on everything." Bassil just laughs like he always does whenever Mo refers to the ‘twins’. Bassil is also high and imagining Maisa and Faris as conjoined at the ribs and then thinks better of it. Thinks they must share brain matter between them. They aren’t even siblings, aren’t even related to each other. They might be dating. Or might have been. No one can really tell except to feel, feel strongly that their relationship is strangely incestuous. Faris turns to look their way and raises a brow in greeting like he’s sensed the scrutiny. Maisa does the same seconds later before whispering something in his ear. Faris rolls his head back and laughs. She spears one of the pineapples in the sickeningly green concoction she is sipping and bites down in a way that is unmistakably suggestive. When she turns again it is to lock eyes with Mo, she smiles and raises her glass to him. "Aw man, let it go." Mo doesn’t know what Bassil is on about. At least pretends not to, "What?" He huffs irritated. Bassil just laughs again. They are both startled when it is Dia who speaks, "If you’re trying to smile benignly it isn’t working." Mo looks at her like maybe she is an oddity he’s just clapped eyes on for the first time. She disappeared without ceremony more than half an hour ago and returned just as silently. "You were sneering," she offers by way of explanation. He doesn’t say anything.
Dia curves the heart in lies like it doesn’t want to sing about the girl. This is pretend. She wears a green dress to match her green eyes. Thinks better of it. Takes it off and sits at the edge of her bed. Lights up like maybe if she swallows fire and smoke she can burn her insides and make them clean. This is pretend. She started smoking regularly after seeing a poster of sticky wrinkled black lungs at the clinic.
Mo walks in and whistles. She rolls her eyes, “Nothing you haven’t seen.” Her two-piece is mostly just string. He knows. Other things he doesn’t know but has to guess about the girl who lives in the oldest house in the village. The biggest house. In the city his bedroom next to hers makes them equals. He sits down and steals a puff. Steals a look at her breasts before he exhales. “Why aren’t you dressed? Not that I’m complaining. But we need to get going if we’re going to ride with Bassil.” She shrugs. He scratches his neck and draws some blood from a recent mosquito bite. Red would blossom angry if he wasn’t so tanned. Yara calls him her bronze Adonis without sounding completely obnoxious. She gets away with it because her French accent is just so French it sounds ironic. Or rather it’s so obnoxious it’s charming. “Come on D, put some clothes on.” He bites her shoulder for emphasis. Dia scowls at him and swats his face away. He licks his lips like he’s savoring the taste of her and smirks. She tastes like sweet clove tea and smells of jasmine. He laughs and pinches her smoke before lightly shoving her off the bed. “Yalla, princess. You have ten minutes.” His phone vibrates and he exits the room.
Dia moves slowly. Inside her heart hammers against her chest. She cannot do tonight. She cannot. Her heart is caved in and strung out, humming dissonant. She picks up the green dress. It brings out the green in her eyes. It helps her pretend. She slips it on like she can crawl back into skin and own it. Have it bind her to her body like a tether.
The green is flattering. In less than 10 minutes, Bassil will bare his canines in appreciation but won’t whistle until she is in the front seat. Mo grins appreciatively and she rolls her eyes. She wouldn’t if she knew. If she knew he thinks about it sometimes even as Yara clings to him and pants. He does wonder what it would be like to make those eyes roll all the way back. She wouldn’t if she knew. He plays it cool enough that she doesn’t question their peculiar arrangement. This is all pretend.
In one hour she is where her body wants to cave in on itself. On a rooftop bar warm dimmed lights flicker across her skin. Mo’s fingers flicker across her wrist before he grabs hold. It is unnecessary contact. But it is dark enough and crowded enough and Yara isn’t back for 3 more days. “Same as usual or something else?” The humming inside needs to stop and even bottles of rosé will not curtail it. “Vodka.” He arches his brow, “And?” She rolls her eyes even though she should not. She does though, “Just vodka. Any of the good stuff. Ask JP to choose something for me. Make it a double.” His hand is still grabbing hold of her wrist. Too tightly she thinks. It is unnecessary to begin with but then again they have been skirting perilously close to danger lately. If she knew. But she doesn’t because she doesn’t. Because she doesn’t think about him or Yara or Bassil baring teeth.
Say not Tophet;
Dia opens the gate and closes the gate
opens the gate and closes it
They do not send their sons to fire,
Fire finds them
In the face of a strange god on our mountains
lusting after ancient trees
In the absence of drums and tambourines
Chemosh treads the earth,
changed his shirt, veiled his faces
Turns their mothers’ eyes to dirt
Turns bloodied earth in prayer beads
All these centuries on centuries
We beat our chests for them
My sisters weep
When neighbours weep,
they beat their chests for them;
Dia opens the gate and closes it
opens the gate and closes it
squeaks and creaks jarring metal
hear the creak, hear the rattle
Cry not Tophet on our burial mounds
Say, fire finds them and our neighbours
Say by your smooth foreheads
your twittering machines
"I have no land."
To at last contain me between the mountain
and the green sea.
There were no rocks so hardened or ground swell, only
Maps, useless maps;
What my feet touch they do not keep.
Two months to find that August breaks,
and will not hold
(is not a promise to be held)
Because of news of swinging trees.
Because of news of savageries,
the cutting, the dead, the rope.
There in the desert, there.
Here, far from sunless shores
My insides quake with the rotting fear
when news comes.
Oh, but when it comes—
Call me water still
May it contain me,
Let it take me in the surge
and under swells, erase me;
I have no land.
The something more teases at the knees while you go biting into chocolate with hints of juniper and chilli
and your eyes grow darker with every bite
First the lake had been revelation
Then the hills
they had been telling
the climb had been telling
You choose to forget and bite into chocolate with hints of brine and caramel notes
Amnesiac with curling lips both sweet and bitter
The something more tickling the backs of knees now makes for a thief’s exit;
a walk at the blinking of night
a hastening from under new sheets
for distance from a warm tongue melting chocolate
Amnesiac with her back turned losing the day in sleeps again
It is a teasing and a tangle too fraught with danger to mouth remember
So the river
so the bend
and fingers pinching knees not to kick at seams or unravel
To jealous guard the something more until blue eyes wake up unafraid of lakes
On the day that you moved entirely and too easily away
cloud cover was low ahead and shadows
flitted over sparse earth making green deep
like forests deep and the clouds
were low wisps (one cloud particularly)
floating dancelike vapors
moved by the urging of sun
(some call it wind)
You had a body once that could be touched with even calloused hands and rough
no need for feathers
enough for the rough and grab to claim hills in rolling hips
You had a certain grace about you
and even now through squinting eyes
your moves devastate gently in degrees
when that last bottle catches your reflection
There is a cloud suspended too low to be believed
but just high enough
as certain things just out of reach
and running further or faster won’t help elevate or break the curse of law
even though we never see it
see you bite into fruit to make it real
dead stars for scientists fraying threads
watch the universe & tell this story;
iron was the first violence
iron in the blood
eating rapture, we
know water before metal
when this eye looked towards Cygnus and Lyra
when we floated down the gulf
some boat in the night
warming the night with swallowed fire
on the deck of a lonely dhow
we were stars
bronze gold bronze;
arms and legs in constellation
you liked the small of my back
under the sun at midday
i. sun sun sun, so many suns
ii. gold in the blood
iii. snakes in the water
green green waters turning
warm like copper
night sky, you were happy and heaven’s dome was deep purple
we were happy sailing under stars
or were we them?
every star chart keeps us hidden
there was a mirror then
there is a boat in the sea
boat becomes mirror
becomes sun sun sun
and the night sky
and fire in the blood
stars above and in the waters
stars mirror stars;
iron contains us
but for the violence of the night sky
i had not seen your eyes
or held their gaze in August
Having been home to an eagle and sparrow
i swallowed feathers i swallowed feathers
Wrapped up tightly round this little finger
you are the coil and the slither and hissing
break break break
Who can escape?
Who can make up for the parts that are missing?
Talons and beaks and scales and feathers
Nails and teeth and claws and feathers
Teeth and talons and beaks and hissing
and serpents in gardens and girls that are missing
and feathers and feathers and feathers and feathers
break break break