Monday, September 12, 2016

I admire the courage of nature in autumn
As plants slowly abandon their thrust toward
an ever-distancing sun
and softly retreat.
It takes real guts to back down for a season.
And trust that there will be another chance
at the end of the long barrel of another winter.
It takes courage, even if there isn't another choice.
Even if plants can't actually concede anything
being non-sentient
as they are.
Because they've evolved so many other defenses
Against insects and herbivores,
viruses, bacteria, us.
Against these, they reach deep inside
for poisons, for spiny shells, thigmonasty.
But few protest the withdrawal of the sun.
Even the intransigent pines and evergreens
slow their heartbeats
to survive the cold.
Acceptance is overlooked, yet one of the
most potent forms of bravery I know.

Saturday, April 23, 2016


At times ... I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I'd rest at last,
and if I were ready—
I would take my revenge!

But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who'd put
his right hand over
the heart's place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they'd set—
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.

Likewise ... I
would not murder him
if it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn't bear his absence
and whom his gifts would thrill.
Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbours he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school ...
asking about him
and sending him regards.

But if he turned
out to be on his own—
cut off like a branch from a tree—
without a mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and without kin or neighbours or friends,
colleagues or companions,
then I'd add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness—
not the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I'd be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street—as I
convinced myself
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.
by Taha Muhammad Ali, 
translated by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi and Gabriel Levin

For Robert, Forever Ago

The good witch of the north
Once found caverns
In the deep hollows of her heart
And there, a campsite:
An old blanket and
a California king mattress.
And, since she was there,
Lay down a moment
to rest
under the starless sky.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dreaming in Pictures

In some ways it was never anything more than dreams.
Night vision
Self talk
Other times, I swear I felt the brush of human skin across my back.
Laughter seems more external than any sorrow
I remember small contests, shared secrets.
(Was our last caress against that red wall?)
I dropped it casually, as if hundreds would inevitably follow.
Why the small box of leftover moments
growing mold in my refrigerator?
Too many questions, I know.
I found your footprint in the desert a few weeks back
and took a photograph to show you
only to realize
image was our greatest illusion.

Friday, January 15, 2016

These Parentheses

(image: "Parenthesis" by chris beards)

These Parentheses

It is an odd thing-
Such close proximity, despite such
Like looking through a crystal ball at
Smiles -but not the ones I remember-
though the lines of your face do look familiar.
I am like a child, not yet speaking
The world before me
(well, in pieces)
yet I cannot understand.
The why still remains
your greatest treasure
and so jealously guarded.

You keep it, love.
I am past the point of
longing for its rancorous rot
and shall simply remain
floating in the spaces between
these parentheses.