Jasmine hangs heavy in the air,
a sweet caress.
Dusty urchins sell bouquets
the flowers bruised, bleeding fragrance.
Night-flying moths whirl, cascade,
drunk with the promise of love.
Shadow-hidden, veiled women pass.
The hot sky is star-scattered.

Water-carriers lay the dust,
drops flying from sweeping hands.
The men lie outside on cushions
hookah smoke curling in lazy wreaths,
Oum Kalthoum sings of heartache and loss
longing etched in every word.
The men touch their hearts,
kiss their fingers, speak of passion
in whispers, so that the women cannot hear.


My black cat lives in night’s pockets,
screams like a peacock in the dark.
I hear his wail and try to think of God
as the Sufis say I should.

He cannot remember
where to find me.
It’s the suffering of old age
that cries out for company, for food, for love.

He is empty,
stuffed with nameless desire
that lives in his stomach,
in the hollow above his pelvis
in the sway of his back
and in the stink of his breath.

I hear the cry and awaken to memory
wrapped in night’s garment, calling out
“ here I am, I am here, you are not alone”.

TV dinner

The kitchen table is round,
three-legged, set for two.
She eats alone again.
Soon she will leave him.

The limbic brain


My elder sister
the lizard
lives in the front yard
of my brain.
She keeps strangers from the door,
sees danger everywhere.

I’m hoping to find her a husband.
Once she’s married off
I intend to take chances
go out dancing
and make my own mistakes.

Fairy godmother

Beneath your ribs
the snail shell curl
of a baby girl,
a spiral unfolding
a forest fern
a slow awakening of spirit in flesh.

Her name is decided
her bed is made
the clothes are packed on shelves
the date has been set.

My gift is hidden
under her pillow,
a wish for uncertainty,
a promise
that there will be questions.

Winter lament

O give me the soul of a brown bear,
lend me her skin
that I may sleep the winter through
in a mulch of leaves and dreams
beneath the roots of a tree
to wake when the world is new.

Aroused by slow warmth
and the reborn sun,
I’ll hunt the quicksilver salmon,
and pluck summer’s berries.
Claws stained red,
I’ll grow fat, sleek and contented,
preparing for the moist silence
and the cold thought-less dark.

Time passes

I’m watching the slow dance of dust motes in a sunbeam
as they enter and leave in a never-ending flow.

I wonder if god sees the universe
as a drifting waltz of ephemeral beings
floating on cosmic currents.

I wonder where the dust comes from
and how it rises unseen,
and why it endlessly falls.


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