elephant noise

she talks and i nod

her eyes speak volumes and her lips adjectives

the creases upon her face dwindle and expand

her pupils dilated, voice distressed

pitched at the end of every word

which means something to her

not to me, though,

because i don’t see her

i can’t feel her winds

or her tides

i can’t relate to the movement of her body

her music is a concept and her voice

is just something i can hear

but i nod, i nod,

i nod

i tell her i understand

yet with every nod i sink further into my bathroom floor

deeper into my dusty sheets

with every nod i want to scream at her

that sometimes i can’t even understand myself

but she speaks to me in a hertz i cannot hear

in faded frequencies or vanished volumes

i nod

i want to understand

but i only feel the cold

of my bathroom floor

 

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singing sheets

my sheets sing

of the morning sun’s

fractured chants

and wishes of wake

my sheets sing

of the midnight moon’s

rotten respite

and fictitious relief

green bottle

She held the phone tightly to her ears, careful not to miss any word her boss was saying.

His sentences were series of fragments like “social movements…” and “…can’t talk about it here.” She stared at her black formal pants, now dusted by a two hour long bus ride. “Nietzsche once said…” he went on, “..the origins of revolution.” She alertly scribbled mental notes.

As he carried on, the girl’s eyes parted her pants and fell on the pairs of sad eyes and exhausted faces which surrounded her. The smell of heat-induced sweat gathered in the air as she struggled to inhale. A man in a worn out blue-collared uniform was sitting next to her, fidgeting to melt the block of ice in his green plastic bottle. He was thirsty for some water, and the old lady across of them offered him hers.

“ – Skocpol and you know, of course, Marx…” Her boss’ words were muffled; filling the air of the scene unraveling in front of her. Her eyes tore away from the man and the old lady. She tried to focus on her employer’s instructions, but they had already faded into the background of her mind.

After a few seconds of silence, a pained smile escaped her lips as she finally responded,

Of course, I understand.”

Limbo

I am stuck in a limbo that befell the railway road between two cities: never arrived but always on a frayed recliner and a train ride with a way back home in both directions. My journeys are often accompanied not by the familiarity of my loved ones, but by the warmth of strangers – of conversations, smiles, and kind gestures. They tell me it’s okay to have two homes, unaware of the heaving struggle it takes to uphold that promise. Unaware that as I let go of one home for the other, I keep a piece of me tucked underneath the stairwell.

My life became a quest to collect my hidden pieces and put them together to reconcile a self I have lost with every train ride “home”. With every unwelcome stranger’s touch and every loved one’s indifference, I grew both closer and more distant to the places I was told to call my own. In a bitter quarrel between so many grabbing hands, I was left finding none.

Now, as I am still forced to become this journey, I try to find a companion. But my trials have left me clutching the cold hands of limbo. The concept of “mine” has become foreign throughout the years; I was told I was welcome too many times to believe it so.

I grasp for stability, but there is nothing stable about a broken railway track. There is nothing safe about the fraying skin of this red recliner. How am I supposed to assume control in a life where I am never sober; dizzied by a never-ending trip? How am I supposed to forgo it when that is all I have ever done?

I try again and again to gather my pieces, under ornate sofas or dusty stairwells. My father always hid me a surprise doll under the table until he didn’t. I still searched for it every day – until one day I stopped.

I hope that one day I will stop searching for the lost, hidden, past, broken, bitter pieces of me I have left scattered in my homes.

I hope that one day I will stop leaving myself places where I never, utterly, fully, truly, and wholeheartedly belong.

Tell You About It Later

I write about dystopias, then I rush on to snatch my phone and utter a series of words after words after words after – I’m not so sure. The endless succession of repetition soon sucks meaning out of them. They cease to become words. Instead they transform into minimums and maximums of acceptable social quotas, of how many times I asked how work is, how break is, how life is. By the end of every phone call I forget what each of them means.

I watch as my companions and I tread upon thin lines, playing on pleasant but never edging into genuine. I see the curves of our smiles shake from the effort it takes to keep them on. To keep going until we have fulfilled our quotas.

I sleep with a belly full of conversation, but a mind full of nothing. They satiate my conscience: you did well today, be ready for tomorrow. But tomorrow is an adverb I have read too many times. It is a search for the meanings I have learned to lose by struggling to belong.

I try to write about dystopias, but my hands compel me to ask how things are and my body twitches to understand what they have become. I fear that asking the latter might eat away at my conscience, so I resort to laying the meanings I have sacrificed on paper; hoping that its soft surface might resurrect them.

Homesick

It’s an indescribable feeling to realize that the moment you are living right now will some day be “a year ago,” “two years ago,” and even “ten years ago“. To look at old photographs and relive a minute which at the time felt like forever. Impermanence hinges on the edge of every memory, every feeling, and every word. It clings and promises never to let go – but to leave pieces of itself in street corners, car seats, in the cold of winter and in the words of a song.  It becomes wherever you are, reminding you of a conversation or a look, of hope or disappointment. Its very character an irony to its mission: impermanence is permanent. And as much as it urges you to let go of years passed, its dissonance begs you to never forget. Its loneliness offers you photographs wrapped in nostalgia. Its cynicism becomes your muse. Its ambivalence your refuge.

Nineteen

I keep going back to that balcony

to that starry sky under which I turned nineteen

to a room and a lemon too sour

to the smell of smoke and faux freedom

 

I don’t go back to you though

I go back for her

the girl I left there

in that balcony

under that sky

 

she was wearing a black jumpsuit

softer than lace, it hugged her thighs

she wore it for you

you said it made her look like a movie star

 

I go back for the girl

who drank that lemon sour bottle

who stood at the edge of the balcony

and laughed at how her body teetered over

 

I think that girl was happy

but I don’t know if she ever really was

she went for a walk the day you hurt her

threatened to leave her; she left before she was

took photos of windows peering on seas

which she’d show you, still the lemon sour in her belly

 

she’d accept the touch of your fingers

just that night, because she turned nineteen

she was obliged to accept happiness

to take what is offered to her

in cups of poison

and say thank you

for not being left

 

if I went back to that girl on her nineteenth birthday

I’d tell her to teeter once more, over the edge

to take many pictures under that starry sky

to throw away that anklet – but never to cry

to let the boy leave

 

I will remind her of how it feels

freedom not faux

and true, genuine,

hope