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.

  * * * * *

that day

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

quickly across

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.