Sunday, 29 June 2008

on couche toujours avec les morts...

On my way to work, after I alight at the corner of ladbroke grove and begin walking towards Golborne Road, there are many things that greet me day to day. The pigeons on the side of Best Buy that crowd around discarded bread and rice and doughnuts, the TimeOut ad on the side of the black box that houses all the wires of the area, the Dub Shack with its yellow sign and lion head in the middle, roaring the availability of hip hop, soul, and RnB vinyls, and the funeral sevice "shop". I say shop because it has a window front like any other shop, framed in black painted walls, crowned with wilting funeral wreaths that are changed rarely, and holding a shiny coffin staff that brings it all together as an intert morbid surrealist painting amid the hustle bustle of the living that walk up and down and go in and out of its neighbouring "Best Buy" with their sandwiches or bottle of juice or fresh krispy kreme. I give it my glance as I pass, noting its classical serif-ed sign, and neutral marketing of death, and stagnant existence. My heart sinks ever so slightly nearly every time, more like a blink underwater than a sinking. Never changing, always paused in a purgatory of inanimation.

Except that day.

I pass the pigeons, note this week's theme of TimeOut, contemplate a croisant from the lamp warmed cupboard posing as Best Buy's "bakery" and then before I have a chance to look ahead of me and walk my course, I pass 3 men standing in a row, in matching light pink shirts, and black trousers in front of the window queen of death.
They all are looking at a black car parked right across the funeral shop, and suddenly things happen really fast and I realise its a hearse and my eyes stroke its abdomen and I see it's blooming with fresh lillies and small pink roses hidden in green blankets of leaves and if thats not enough to make me quiver, 2 men are pushing a white coffin to fill the void and the coffin is glowing in the diffused light and it is a small one. A small coffin. Tiny in fact. And then I feel it hit me. My insides twirling and turning and pulsing and twisting and a gag a little and it goes very slow. very slow.
my eyes are no longer in my head but in the head of a bird on a low branch of the tree above me and I see myself in slow motion, my head still turned at this scene and switching to the 3 men in pink (its a girl) and my body follow my head and twists round and I see myself pause slightly before falling to my knees with tears streaming down my cheeks as my head is playing home videos of a baby girl coming home from the hospital in her mothers arms, her first birthday, her blue dress and her red shows as she runs in the grass of the garden smiling and shining, her favourite teddy bear that she could not sleep without, her thumb in her mouth... I see it all. And I see the coffin as it darkens, shielded from the sun by the gaping mouth of wheeled black. and its all in slow motion as the bird from the tree swoops down and passes me turning its head to keep my face in view and its all turning and my stomach is turning, and then SLAM. i hear the jaws of the car shut and I realise my eyes are in my head and I'm not on my knees, or in slow motion, in fact I'm just a few metres further on my route, and the sceen is all in my head. But the tears are there, and my wringing insides are there and I take cover into the side street and stand as hidden as I can by nearby bushes and gag and spit bile and poison and horrid horrid feelings and images.
The terrible glass visage of the queen of death has proven her point. She reigns my path with an iron fist. I will not make the mistake of looking her in the eye again. I do not want that burden. I cannot carry that burden more than I have.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Hair of the Dog

Weirdest thing happened today while on the bus from work. I was standing up leaning against the luggage area near the front after giving my seat to an old woman.. (yes, I'm a good citizen, thats not the point though) balancing my Nick Cave book in one hand, holding onto the rail with another, and adjusting my ipod volume with a loose thumb, when all of a sudden, I see it.

The hair of the dog. My dog.

One lone hair, on my shirt. I can tell it was a dog hair, my dog's hair. Theres not question about it. The near bleached white colour, tapering at the tip to become a golden sandy tint that is almost translucent.
My dog has been gone for two years now. Thats a long time.
I'd worn this shirt before, never a hair in sight.
Maybe it was my jeans jacket. Must be. I hadnt worn it in forever, and i used to wear it quite a lot.
I smiled to myself as I wrapped my arm around the rail keeping me from breaking my teeth on the bus floor due to the driver's insistence on being the next Collin McRae, and picked the hair up, and studied it closely. The thin filament echoed the setting sunlight and broke it within it miniscule frame, resulting in the finest gold. Well I never...

I smiled to myself as I recollected a conversation I had with my friend just the night before, about how I was planning on getting a dog in summer when I moved back to Beirut. "Which breed?" she asked.
I said "the homeless kind. I'm going to adopt."

An interesting conversation ensued in which many parallels were drawn about my choices regarding my furry companians and my own outlook on myself.

I'll explain. I'm sure I've lost you, or sound like someone who is lost.

The day I was called by the vet to tell me that new Labrador puppies had just arrived if I wanted to take my pick, I rushed to the clinic as though my life depended on it.
2 puppies were presented in front of me, one bursting with energy and running around the elevated table, licking the fingers of all who gave him attention, and they were many, while the other lay in the middle of the table, paler, and still groggy from being sedated on the flight to Beirut. But aware. Very aware.
I looked at him and brought my face closer, inspecting his wide eyes that looked up at me, creasing the furrow of his brow slightly in a curious pose, and then relaxing slightly. Bringing my hand closer to stroke the bridge of his small muzzle, he lifted his head and licked me with a velvety tongue, rosy with youth. That was it. Runt he may be when compared with his vivacious brother but my Runt he shall be.

Still confused?
I chose the runt. Because he would have been the least obvious choice. Any person would have preferred to take the bouncy ball of love and fun that circled the edge of the table, spreading excitement with his little tail wagging away, and of course saliva. But what of his thinner paler comrade?
I did not want him to be the one that "had to be chosen". I stuck by my choice. Picked him up and cradled him in my folded arms, and a little nuzzle towards my armpit with his nose told me we were going to be just fine, told me he knew I'd pick him and as he burrowed into the warm darkness of my sweater, I too knew I would have picked him out of 100 puppies, let alone a couple.
No one wants the runt. The less obvious. The less appealing. But I do, for that very reason.

He gave me a similar look 5 years later, as he lay on the table at the vet's, suffering slowly from a cancer that he had managed to keep a secret from us all for a while. Except this time his look was not curious. But loving, tarnished with some fear. This time, it was I who nuzzled into his neck. And this time I did not get to take him home.

So now I am making the same choice, although choice could be the wrong word, since I don't believe it's that at all. It's just pre-chosen.
I had rattled my brain about which breed of dog to get ever since I took the decision to go down that road of companionship again. I thought of them all, taking into account my previous experience when it came to size and energy and shedding patterns (please refer to the trigger of all this entry.. the hair of the dog)
And then it just dawned on me. Why bother? Why the beauty contest? Why the need of a "new" dog. All dogs need love. There is no doubt about that... But isn't a dog that had been given love and then have it taken away more worthy? A dog at the shelter is not waiting to be bought, has not been taken care of or treated to fit any specific routine or measure.
They just ask to be loved. Half hound half retriever, half spaniel quarter alsation quarter husky... Concoctions, mutations, rehabilitations. They have no pedigree to fall back on, no lineage to claim.
Broken dogs. Not needing glue, or bandages. Just needing affection.
So I will adopt. No. Not adopt. That could infer a nonreciprocating relationship.
I will not adopt. I will welcome. I will love.

You see, I am a broken dog. A rain dog. A shelter dog. A runt of the litter.

But so are you. Only difference is I'm just not ashamed to say it.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Seven Poems (including a Sonnet) about Stars

I wrote these a while ago.. should have put them up before I suppose. Sometimes I get the illusion I'm a poet..Oh well..

Fireflies swirl in the hollows of her eyes,
And galaxies form above us in the skies.


Night Dreamer
Counting the stars,
As they greet her one by one,
She traces lines across the sky,
Her finger an imaginary brush
Painting a celestial masterpiece.

Catching fireflies
She names them one by one
One after hope, one after promise,
And one after love’s labour lost
Closes the jar, and watches them glow

Cursing the moon,
As it lights the rooftops one by one
She leans on the windowsill,
Arms crossed cradling her chin
Wishing she could be far far away.


Man on the Moon
Do you believe they put a man on the moon?
And if he’s up there all alone, what does he think of?
What does he do?

Does he dance on constellations,
Dropping sandman’s dust onto closing eyes?
Giving us the gift of dream,
Gracing our dozing faces with smiles,
And our minds with a door to his abode
Where we can join him, jump from star to star
And watch comets explode.
Where we can sing to the universe,
our laughter echoing in the galaxies.

Do you believe they put a man on the moon?
And if he’s up there all alone, does he dream of us?
Or of visiting soon?


A Sonnet of Moonshine and Fireflies
Her outline soaks in a soft silver
Cast by the moon’s fullest of faces.
As she searches for the big dipper,
Up towards the night sky she gazes.

Her thoughts are stolen by the stars,
And her breath by a passing breeze’s sigh
Could this fire she feels inside be a farce?
Does it only warm the heart within her, and why?

She wipes away the trails of moonshine
That crawl slowly down her visage
Looking up, she prays for a sign,
Or for a way to erase his image.

But all she can see is more stars and fireflies
And no where to hide from the full moon of lies


Bird Bird
Bird Bird,
High in the sky,
The clouds your companion,
The sun a rider on you back.
Come tell me a tall tale
Of places east and west.
Come weave me a tapestry
Of feathers, of wind,
Without a word to be read.

Bird Bird
High in the sky
Don’t settle and sink
Keep on flying,
Stay high.


Poor Lucy
Lucy’s in the sky with diamonds,
She tells me
How she cries sometimes,
Because all she has
Are diamonds.
Diamonds aren’t
A girl’s best friend when
All she has
Are diamonds.


Night Rider
She rides through the night sky
On a steed of dew soaked light
Her hair whistles through the air
Whipping and snapping and whisking
Clouds into shape

She rides through the night sky
On a steed of electrifying might
Her laugh booms throughout the heavens
Echoing and resonating and shaking
Into storms and rain

She rides through the night sky
On a steed of fire so bright
Her gaze splitting into slivers
Falling and trailing and glowing
Into shooting stars

And I sit here eyeing the sky,
On a quilt of feathers soft and white
My breath held in my chest
Watching and fearing and gaping
At the moody mistress of the dark

She rides through the night sky
On a steed of waning shade
Her strength thinning out in sheets
Dispersing and withering and dying
Into a bright new dawn

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

these pages fell out of an old digital journal

an older version of me. an older version of you.

Journal Entry: Tue Jun 13, 2006, 4:04 PM
the stars of cigarette cherries hover in the darkness of her eyes,breathing fire silently in a glow of relapsing hope. and the dragonflies envy the fireflies, while the eyes that housed them bled adversaries in slow quiet trails


Journal Entry: Tue Nov 8, 2005, 3:38 PM
And yes, you look familiar,
I think I've seen you in a wishful thought,
a place I found
while counting stars
and reading skies..
with my hand on my heart

-written after 32 hours of no sleep.. on a torn paper, in my car.


Journal Entry: Thu Oct 27, 2005, 12:48 PM
Silence sits beside me in the car whenever its just me. We both listen to the loud blaring music from the radio.

He sits there, looks at me sometimes..reaches his hand through my ribcage, and strokes my heart.

Silence is my friend.


Journal Entry: Thu Sep 29, 2005, 8:50 AM
Beirut. Lebanon
14 explosions since november 2004.
over 25 dead. 100 wounded.

I sit there straightening my hair, and wish it was as easy to straighten out a society.. a government.. a world.


I wonder if we change.