Poetry of Abise Abousi
Daily Barbarian > Poetry of Abise Abousi
I am thinking about myself now. I have been photographed a thousand times. It was always the same in the blue dress, red satin or black silk with gloves to my elbows.
And I had always known you and you had always known me, even when we didn’t. Is that the way it seems? You wanted it different for me, saw me not on a horse or walking down stairs with a drink in my hand, but naked and everywhere painted into something—a barn door, a room packed with burlap and cotton cloth and me in the midst, you had to look twice to see. And how did it begin, in the bed with my head painted into the pillow, my body the exact shade of the sheets. My favorite was in the forest, sitting at a table, everything green, overgrown with moss, but my shape was still there, still my own. I would just walk right into it, wherever you saw me next, and you would do the rest, camouflaging until I almost disappeared.
I told you when I’m sick it is something else. My head hurting is really a door closing down the hall or a car accident in the street below. My heart beating fast is a bird landing on the window sill.
Do you know that when you pack tumbleweeds into boxes when you take them out they will have become square? How would you expect them to move now and where would they fit but neatly under things?
I am in the bath but there is no water, just my body, because it is what I want to be right now, cool and white. I have found the right color of paint and am only waiting for you to return to make me completely this.
After two hours you arrive holding in your arms wood you have collected from along the shore. You drop the bundle in the center of the floor. If you start a fire right here the dilemma becomes how will I fade into it? Painted the color of fire or fire itself. Either way my eyes will be open and dancing. You will make me out in this way and if you look closely.
* * * * *
He thought he sealed
his daughter in an
envelope years ago.
He is the Minister
of Information for
one of the smallest
countries in the
world but he cannot
remember her name or
guess at her whereabouts.
The address on the envelope
has long since become
a blur in his mind
full of other details.
Although on that day
there were two public
hangings in the square
and six pieces of fruit
in the bowl on the table
(two pomegranates, a mango
and three figs) and the
soft sound of a woman
sweeping in the hall
outside his door. Or
maybe the day coincided
with the opening of
a display of new street
maps at the museum and
the woman on the balcony
across from his own
hanging her clothes
to dry in the dark
hours of morning
(two white shirts, two
light blue, four pairs
of black socks and
one grey dishdasha.)
Either way, he knows
the day he ran his tongue
the seal then pressed
the envelope closed
before walking out
into the street in
his brown laceless shoes
on a day that the bugs
were not so bad and
a taxi honked for him but
he preferred to walk
the eight or twelve
blocks and drop the
letter in the box.
That action coincided
with the last time
he saw his daughter
that much is clear
and now he sits
his back always
to the door each day
as the mail arrives.
One or two envelopes
slide almost soundlessly
into the dust
just inside his door.
* * * * *
a different place
and so it has come to this
and so this has come to it
a man and woman standing
alongside the road
it has been wanting to rain
for days the clouds all
gathered in the corner
of his falling eye
he can not remark
her heart he has noticed
is beating in her hair
and ears he feels it
buries his face in it
leans against the car
that is not there.
they are here to wait out the storm of her hands
which have been dripping at her sides for days
(a man, a woman, and a stray)
the man has hidden one shoe from the dog
he wears the other one on his right hand
to show the dog he has command
on the guard wall across from her is painted
“I heart Lisa Fletcher” in blue
she has stared at the words
on and off all day
she thinks to herself now
take me to a different place.
every other car has its hazards on
and her hands continue to madden the man
he has become all wrapped up in her
beating heart hair as night comes
he thinks she will begin to attract fireflies
mosquitoes to her face and damp hands
all cars going north move a little then stop
a truck driver has left all that behind
to join the man and woman alongside the road
and at any other time he might make a fierce friend
but tonight he is tanked and cannot take his eyes
from the woman’s hands he will continue to
comment incessantly at the way they pour forth
he says take me to the same place.
the dog has appeared
he has found the shoe
he is on the grassy incline
licking it gently all over.
will her hands stop when the rain starts
the engine of the fastest car
that passes before the man sees
his good eye in her opposing eye
and she has moved now to the overpass
above the road to hold her hands over it
take me home to a different place
the same she says as the clothes
that hang on my neighbor’s line
restrictions to dry clean only once
the truck driver is scratching himself all over
he wants to run her hands through the wringer
she thinks she has
been everywhere now
but to a different place. –
this night she is violently ill in the sudden rain
with the cars going by they turn their
lights dim and dimmer still
they have all seen her at least once
in the same place she’s at now and
can familiarize themselves without
slowing down to stop but to recognize
herself she must close her eyes.
the truck driver has left the dog
asleep at the wheel to confront the man
he tells him it is her hair
that should concern us now
the way it seems to drag.
she has always thought the same
what could change but the way we
sit stand cough walk
and she can take more if you see her
in this light from a different place
is she there she wants to be
where there is no trouble or
at the home of her mother
who will tell her some of this
is that different place and
some of it is not to be taken seriously
you must wash up.
, she has friends in cars that know her
she cries from behind her book
when they don’t stop
she thinks little about her hands now
the man says that she is inconsiderate
to no longer appreciate the green and
white striped soap he brings to her
from various restrooms along the road.
she can bring to mind sinister
and seamstress at one time
she says something about the sound of cars
on the wet streets below used to
make me jump from bed now something
from in me I know makes these rain drop hands
and the music they make takes me to a different place
so don’t wait up but the man had long since gone
the way of the truck driver and dog
with nothing on his mind now
but freeways and places to stop.
About These Pages:
Both Alise Alousi and Michael Mikolowski are two artists that are deeply involved in the cultural scene as well as being active in local and international social movements.
In future issues of the Daily Barbarian, the center pages will carry the work of local artists, along with reviews of recently published books and journals.