Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The meaning of habibi

(To Hala and Ross from Houston, TX)

If it wasn’t for the chiming

of the phone


in this cancer war zone

I would be wilted and gray

I would feel quite alone.

If it wasn’t for the rainbow dreams

in subconscious worlds

painted by you

through this decaying reality

I would be brittle and hard

I’d choose to be blind and not see.

You are the father of my tired eyes

the mother of my worn-out ears

fine tuning my heart

and coloring my dreams.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Treasure full of hemp…er, gems.

A magical package

within another

and still another

wrapped in surprises

and truths on every cover

unveiling more beautiful

than the previous other

thousands unfolded

in thousands of sizes

layer upon layer

of joy and revelation

welcome elations

until I discover

like the infinite number

next greater than zero,

nestled, at the deepest bottom

a tiny box

bejeweled with grace

and endless images of your face

inside, a cosmic flame

burning with life

the miracle of you

eternally unravels.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Masters of War

by Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you sit back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Sigh for Beirut

They found you ripe

They raped you--

They raked your languid eyes.

Your sleep is naked now and you can only snore.

They streaked your forehead with sirens--

They combed your hair with shells and warheads.

You are dishevelled, Beirut!

Your head was my dream--

It is a tunneled carbuncle.

They couldn't fathom your perfume--

They bathed you in pain and screams.

Your languid eyes, Beirut, are your pulse.

Are they counting time?

How ironic!

Your timeless face, Beirut, is pleading:

Is there no end to time?

We were taught that royal purple and anemones

were born on your shores,

and that blood never courted your sands.

Oh! the purple disowned itself,

and the red tiles ambushed your autumn leaves.

Your doors and windows no longer sing--

They can only cringe, with disgust.

Stones, shadows, buds reel in sorrow,

and with supplicant eyes covet your supple lips--

But your face is a plain of gunpowder and dust.

I know you, Beirut!

I know you will rise like a boiling pot of milk!

like your plump smile like your tipsy voice.

Oh, Beirut! Could I sing to your feral days or nights?

all paeans now are jejune.

Mansour Ajami (B. 1941) was born in Saghbine, West Bekaa, Lebanon. Among his scholarly publications are The Neckveins of Winter: The Controversy over Natural and Artificial Poetry in Medieval Arabic Literary Criticism (1984) and The Alchemy of Glory: The Dialectic of Truthfulness and Untruthfulness in Medieval Arabic Literary Criticism (1988). He is also a poet, musician, singer, and translator. "A Sigh for Beirut" (unpublished, 1982) was originally written in English.

Bearing Witness

For Beirut I write . . .

Like veiled women,

years listen at doors,

seasons close their eyelids,

softly touch her broken fragments,

and the burnt soutane of her walls.

The wind alone enters into rooms and murmurs softly.

No one interrupts its monologue.

For Beirut I write . . .

The chalky side of the empty market,

the barked wire planted in the blood stained quarters of the latest battles,

the black opening of galleries on dark cliffs.

Signs engraved in passage ways,

carved within buildings,

the grey dust which speaks for the anger of fire.

Behind a shutter two tearless eyes.

A far away voice recites prayers.

A worried cat removes a bit of its prey.

For Beirut I write . . .

How trivial it would be for old crews to fix their silks over this city sunk in her misery.

Let memory manage its gold over splinters,

make wounds guilty,

humiliate the kidnapped Capital,

and burden her with regrets.

For Beirut I write . . .

To call again,

to love in vain,

to lose one's self and sleep in this ship betrayed by its song and its lust for life.

For Beirut I write . . .

Her dress made of a thousand alliances,

her chequered fabric,

her dark arteries,

her orders at night,

and her stones reddened each day by her light.

For Beirut I write . . .

So that I watch her as she comes back to life,

as she attends to her chores with time,

with death,

with the denial of absence.

I watch her as she invents this sand

which puffs and covers up with the same whiteness the tombstones and the cornfields.

Claire Gebeyli (B. 1930) was born in Alexandria, Egypt, of Greek origin. She married a Lebanese and lived most of her life in Lebanon. She is currently an Associate Editor of the Lebanese French daily, L'Orientle Jour, where she is also a regular columnist, combining poetry and journalism to create a unique editorial style.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Simple Math

One cigarette for two

One toothbrush for four

One mind, one soul

Two hearts

One beat

three times the speed

Zero pain, 100% gain

Pure love.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Desert Sun

Oceans, worlds apart
carry me off to you.
It's a decision
you know in your heart
marry me off with you.
Time slides into view
and what do I see
looking through?
You lift me up when the day is done
and what do I see?
You know it's you
you warm me up like the desert sun.
Take me back to times in my youth
voices telling me
places remind me too
time slides into view
and what do I see
looking at you?
You lift me up when the day is done.
And what do I see?
You know it's you
you warm me up like the desert sun.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Fig Saw Puzzle

in guttered destiny
erased at the helms by
mired and dangerous
navigators ensuing
sinking ships.