Serenade

Was last night’s serenade a dream?
The incandescence of aged tungsten warming the bridge
whose ends welcomed dead poets singing
songs from forgotten years, their lyrics translating
into one another like a stew mixing
While your scarf waved gloriously, the seagulls
arising from an aligned sleep dashed in vivid numbers
and fishermen who threw their caps into an indigo sky
lost them in a maze of flaps
Across the bridge a town hummed with the pages
you left half-read as a child, now
they were soiled posters talking of a future
You showed me around the lanes and carts
like a child running across her ancestral home, the
flags in the square, the market of unused footwear,
the roads fluid with passing spirits carrying little joys
You flew me across the circle into the town of lakes
where every boat carried your favourite food into floating homes
asking me silly questions, you trapped my reflection in a picture
calling it a painting – you said – this will mean much more later
You rowed into and across brittle homes soaked in black water
calling out to former friends, all asleep, never to wake up to see you smile
Just then a sea appeared, the very end of the creek
you shed a tear, watching an orange moon descend
and make love to a tired ocean, ‘this is where I come
to talk to myself’, you confessed
as I watched the sea age,
you wrinkled and became quieter

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Beach, circa 2004

The beach, filled with chaos
Polluted by sounds of tourists

Meanwhile the ocean comes and goes in waves
The beach
Restlessly pleased like a distant lover

A lost ancestor docks. His hands filled with warnings of the coming future.


Drama, the Scent of Mangoes, Love 


yellow, the colour
of a summer morning’s arrival
windows disrobing one by one
letting in the season gradually
trees heavy with sweet fragrance

glowing warmly into a town
sounds born from each home, idols
uncovered and water strewn on streets
I wait for you seven years later with nervous glances
your dog, the calendar in your room, your mom’s ghost
watery tea with toast
saucers whose edges have the aftertaste of you
the yellow morning brings me to you and you
to the point of time where stories have been forgotten

in the patch of forest before the paddies
the path leads onward and finds the creek, the sun
travels in a boat and is pecked by gulls, your eyes
young and unsure, meet the sea and look into me
“which is your favourite fruit, you coward?
are you still fond of coconuts and jackfruit?”
I hear you like the ocean hears the wind
rippled, I continue to smile
another season passes

Landscapes

your hair rivers onto the bedsheet
tracing movements made by the rest of you
your eyes move nervously in a dream
viewing their own private cinema
your fingers gently tremble under a moist breeze
I plant my warmth at your feet

adrift in you earlier I discovered forested lakes
in me your voice echoed across endless mountains
eventually water-falling over my shoulder
and turning the room into its lake
then birds flew out of us one by one taking turns
as we gazed upward with closed eyes searching for a sky

collapsing onto rippled cloth you became a range of dunes

awakened by the stillness of night
I witness you take new shapes beside me
the scent of our time passing grows gradually
buttoning myself I let my palm speak to your forehead
a soft fluorescence robes you like an ocean

Poet

I was a poet
Centuries ago when I sailed to Aden
I carried spices on my back and charmed Bedouins at the shore
I carried my coast from here to there and exchanged sand
Learning words and scripts, bringing them back
I sprinkled them in a kettle
Ever since time has brewed for me the choicest phrases
As I turn my palm, the leaf of experience shows itself

I was forever a poet
Even before you undressed me and asked me to age backwards
In the timeless expanse of indigo I let my words foam into verbose surf
At times into cutting tides
At times into mellow sentences touching the creek
Where paper boats meet ships
And seawater refuels my veins; I remain
in history as a traveller and in the future as a page
exploring one library to another; living as a poet forever

Butterfly

catching it is impossible
ignoring it, even more
the afternoon snores, the boy
lost in chores
-but flickering, its beats dot the air
carrying the universe in a glide
in the distance the shimmering tide lowers
the boats park and let their nets sleep, gulls
crowd and behave like flying papers, flapping
…but flapping here is the butterfly
resisting any one spot, resisting
any one audience – playing its mute song
ribboning the air with cerulean and pink
sometimes yellow sometimes stopping to think
on an anaemic plant branch, tanning
under the humid sun
around her the world debates and procrastinates
trees wither and house new caterpillars
music flows in with the evening’s breath
older men at the harbour await their death
as the sun sets a butterfly tinkers before them
sometimes in silhouette sometimes revealed
making old faces move to its pace
before leaving, leaving
a smile on each wrinkled face