The Endless Possibilities

Maybe it is for the best that I forget
the loose ends of our lost hair
the occasional autumn leaf clinging in despair
the dry skin peeling
ready to leave it all in the wake of a tear

Maybe it was best left unspoken
the wrongs of our endless lives
the options we were faced in this outer space
our upsides down and our insides out
the dreams of finding warmth from face to face

Maybe we can turn a blind eye
until we spin in the motion of endless circles
wishing to never see
the sail boats drifting in the distant sea
the things that were never meant to be between you and me

Maybe life is a recurring dream
our planet is simply the home for a billion stranded stars
looking up into the darkness to see refraction of ourselves
to find the mirrors to our being
like reflections upon the surface of full but secluded wells

Maybe if we bury our mistakes
one on top of the other
we would build a bridge so winding and long
only to walk their surface until our feet were gone
clutching to each other even when there was nothing left to hold upon

“How to win friends and influence people”

Once upon a time
in a forest so green and lush
I was armed to the teeth
in preparation for the worst.

As most young men in my position
with little guidance or experience
threats and intimidation
were best served cold
fight or flight was a motto
and more often than not
a constant way of being.

One morning
I awoke with a shake
only to find that I had been left behind
by all of my friends
with little knowledge of my surroundings
and even less skill
in the fine art of survival.

Fear thrives in surroundings
where it is left uncontested
lingering ominous in the backdrop
so I decided to continue my journey alone
in hopes of finding my way out of the forest
and into the arms of safety.

Within minutes
I heard the shuffling of feet
a rustling of leaves
triggering a tingling sensation in my eyes
and a gargling panic in my throat and chest
at the endless possibilities.

I heard the voice of a young man shout
“Don’t move! Put your hands up.”
Like most young men, I was never good at taking orders
so I jumped behind a tree to protect myself
from any violence that was to be heaved in my direction.

The man shouted again
“Who are you? What are you doing in my forest?”
It was valid question to a stranger
so I replied without hesitation
“I’m lost! Don’t shoot.”
After a few seconds in silence
I spoke again in fear of violence.

“I’m trying to get out of your forest,” I shouted as a last-ditch attempt
to protect myself.

After a long silence, the man finally spoke
“You have to leave this area. But I’m heading in your direction.
And you seem to be heading in mine. This isn’t going to work.”
“I have cigarettes. Do you want some?” I blurted
in hopes of buying my enemy’s patience. I had nothing else to offer.

“Yes. I will leave a bottle of water here. Leave the cigarettes where you stand.
I have nothing else to offer you back.” The man shouted.

A calming feeling came over me.
I had expected nothing in return
and cigarettes were never known to save lives.

We emerged from behind the foliage of protection
having agreed to stay as far away from each other
as humanly possible
when we crossed paths
our hands up in the air
clearly away from our weapons
both of us walking sideways and weary
in opposing direction.

The weapon I had been carrying for months
was long void of any ammunition
there was no blood
on either of our hands
only a bottle of water
for my parched throat
and a carton of cigarettes for a friend
I never wished to see again

Words with ways

I put my words
in the order that I was taught
organize their being
in the ways that I was shown
with the many conditions
that the others wished I thought

If I jumble words beyond their scope
If I convoluted their intention to my liking
beyond the purpose of their wildest whims
and the most meager of their hopes in defining

I would find
a madness fit for kings
with a leaning and likeness for confusion
underlined by an understanding that only experience brings

Is the way of words
only as strong as the alphabet rearranged?
The ways of the wild can be construed as civilized
when creating a system and understanding so deranged

If I was certain
all was written and expressed as it should
with my eyes repeatedly witnessing
everything I forgot that I had already understood

I would return to the classrooms of my childhood
the words on the large blackboards voluminous in their size
I would peer through the little windows to the world outside
watching their words unfold through pupils of my little eyes

If you were to ever step outside for a cigarette and never come back

The dry winter air
would caress my stubbled skin in the moonlight
withered beyond repair
worn thin and frail
the dimples no longer set apart
from the damage

If my ghostly appearance
relied upon the whispers of the stagnant orchards
I would understand
the nature of the guarded foxes
loitering in nighttime darkness
refusing to exhibit slyness in my presence

I would accept
that the watchful owls
who didn’t show fear or interest
glanced begrudgingly
burdened by an instinct
never to be undone

For every time that hardened stone became my hand
shivering uncontrollably
the cigarettes at my fingertips that dried to ash
burning furiously alongside my wavering lips
never stubbed out for the sake of holding onto endless fire

If I look around me now
my absence is never as satisfying
as the accompanying darkness
holding me in secret companionship
refusing to allow me again into the rules of time

My mind is as vacant as the autumn sky
which always promised to return
when life could no longer bear to remain at its fullest
and there were so many memories
that refused to burn away with the summer’s harvest

If ever the brightness was wiped away from your eyes

*This poem was inspired by a view that I stumbled upon.

The blades of grass seek eternal sleep
The green upon their skin
softened by the touch of evening breeze
reach for the horizon
waving at passing clouds
surrounded only
by miles of stolen skyline
willfully surrendering
to freedom

The winds
flatten the rows of flora
refusing to hold on any longer
The lupine weeds offering themselves as
lavender pillows to the succumbing stalks
The rock and gravel lining the sea shore
blur the boundaries
where stone and water collide
where life surfaces and submerges
from sea bank
into the endless calm
of the cold sea bed

All the things I could have been to you

If it wasn’t for you, who would watch me grow?
Who would tell me what to do?
Who would show me what I should know?

If you were my angel, would I know you were really there?
What would I do if you weren’t watching?
How would I know if you really cared ?

If you were as dark as your eyes, would you be something to fear ?
If I was a mysterious reflection,
how would you separate my innocence from that of your near and dear?

If you were my guardian, would you punish me like a mother ?
or would you let me be
free to roam with all the others?

If you were safety, how would I learn to trust?
If you appeared in my life overnight
one morning after the settled dust

For whatever it’s worth, I’m glad you’re here to watch me now
For the sake of everything I could have been
to show me everything that’s never been allowed

If I lie and deny it, I’m still happy you’re a part of my life
for the sake of the innocent children
for the safety of the secluded wives

Day or night, if I ever wonder why I’m lonely too
I’ll just turn to the nearest CCTV camera
and won’t hesitate to admit that it was all for you

Between me and the mountains

If ever the mountains
were to peer down into the valleys
to see her land so serene and flat

The shifting skies
beneath her feet
would be unable to hold her
the breaking ice
separating to abandon her
alone upon her cracks

Like veins parting wayward
the rooted no longer certain
an abandoned desert
without a grain to sack

Not a shriek to be heard
or absurd to be reversed
simply a star so far unattached

If paddles were her savior
but her labor was a favor
she would float without direction unconcerned

The learning of her motion
would be of no worry to the oceans
if ever stars were burned
upon their back

The mountains would laugh
as curious as confused
no longer able to make her out

If their doubts ever rendered
If their hearts ever turned tender
they would forever be unable
to turn her life back around

Apples and Oranges

I’ve heard it said before
“the pen is mightier than the sword”
that written words proclaim orders
pens are the vehicle
to command war and bestow peace
to end famine and prevent mass slaughter

Bare bones persisting upon our bodies
do not understand the need for blood
Blank pages exist incomplete
knowing nothing of themselves
until caressed by the ink of intention
reigning down eventually a thunderous flood

If it wasn’t for words
how else
would we kill our darlings?
(or legally protect assets)
while sketching pretty portraits
of rainbows and starlings?

If it wasn’t for sentences
who then would keep records of infractions and inferences?
Document and deem monetary worthiness
make note of our day-to-day habits
alongside our occasional mysterious occurrences

I was once told
in dire circumstances
sugars and sweets may be substituted
with notepads and pencils

Food for thought is reared through difficulties
infinite in capacity for growth
multiplying en masse
simplifying the eternally complicated

If a rose is a rose
by any other name
A kitten is guilty by affiliation
to lions with fearless
but oh-so-fluffy manes

In desperate solitude
a pen and paper
keep us enduring further than a sword
to maintain stable life

Yet I’m always happy to know
my futile little lonely pen
is also as mighty
as the sharpened blade of a pocket knife

One of those lives

The older I grow
the more evident it becomes
when I look back at his life
his world was similar to stumbling
upon an unexpected fact
refusing to reveal itself

Sometimes it seemed
Sami was invited here
quietly cajoled
to receive all of this
as a gift

His mother never said much
Sami interpreting
the echoing surrounding silence
a passport to the acceptance
of his innocence
A gateway to happiness
facilitated by his forgiving surroundings

Life was a gift
one with no strings attached
for our little master
No bills inflicted
upon his juvenile soul
and certainly no real crimes

Sometimes, it is wise
to look a gift horse in the mouth
The Trojan horse was after all
a lethal trap better off pushed back
into the roughest of seas
guided by a furious farewell offered by one hand
and a loaded pistol in the other

Anyway, I digress (for as long and as humanly as possibly and with pleasure)
as we held high hopes for Sami
wishing his moments with us
would be somewhat

For if Sami was filled with eternal skepticism, suspicion and guile
he would not have appeared
when he was summoned to this world
much like the criminals
who are forced to invade our prime-time television screens
to barter their lives as cheap refute
to boredom and endless curiosity

I would now like to tell you how “curiosity killed the cat”
but since I have already been apprehended
for my confession of guilt relating to long winded
processes (see above for details)
I would say that Sami
was invited here
on the premise of a lucrative victory
bestowed by chance, fate, coincidence and even luck
only to be escorted away
blindsided forcefully

an unsuspecting fugitive
invited to turn up to receive his lottery winnings
a drawing he never intentionally entered
ambushed upon arrival
lead away in the midst
of his own disbelief
followed eternally
by our inconsolable regret

“Taxi Cab Confessions”- The Bollywood Baghdadi

I was certain that he wouldn’t find me. Even though the instructions on the reservation clearly stated, in bold print, that I would be standing in front of an unmanned Teboil gas station. When he drove past at the traffic light a few meters away, waving frantically didn´t have much effect on him either. I was suspicious of his 4.7 rating as a driver. What had he done to merit a reduction from the standard 5? Maybe following instructions wasn´t his forte.

When he finally pulled up to pick me up, he began the conversation almost immediately. He was young, maybe in his mid-twenties and being a Friday evening, I imagined he was bored by the mundane nature of his work confined to the front seat of the sedan. Old Arabic music blared through the speakers. He asked me if the music bothered me and I replied swiftly “No”.
Living in a country showcasing many of the same patterns over the years, including weather, pop music, and landscape, the sound of foreign music was a pleasant contrast to the daily. When I looked outside, I could see nothing but a familiar cold and relentless winter scenery. When I returned my gaze from the window to look ahead at the driver, I was no longer in a small northern nation. We were a long way from his homeland of Iraq.

Once I told him that I was born in India, the floodgates opened for conversation. He was a connoisseur of Bollywood movies, and a fan of Shah Rukh Khan, the extremely popular Indian actor. Eager to play one of his favorite songs for me, he shifted his focus to his phone, letting his foot off the brake and almost driving into the middle of the busy intersection.
“Sorry”, he said quickly, reversing back to the traffic light.
He was embarrassed to have been carried away by his excitement but continued a furious search through his extensive phone and multimedia setup for his favorite Bollywood song that he wanted me to hear. When he finally found it, he turned up the music another notch. He knew more about Indian movies than I did. We drove across the winding countryside roads, cutting through the snow and ice, and the darkness with no traffic for kilometers. I asked him about Iraq and about his life in a new country very different from his place of birth and far removed from his former life. Although he spoke broken English, the details of our conversation were lost in translation, our words doubling over the loud song. Still, we understood each other well.

He was happy with nothing to shake the joy of Shah Rukh Khan dancing around on his screen. The air outside was cold but the open driver´s side window did little to deter the warmth inside the taxi.
I was dropped off as planned at a secluded manor hotel for the weekend after a ten minute ride. Like the rest of the drivers, he asked me for a five-star rating, hoping that the validation would boost his driver profile. He didn’t expect a tip. The “tips and rating” screen on the taxi application blanked and I panicked, afraid I would be unable to give him either.
“Don´t worry,” he said. “Maybe you can try it tomorrow. It’s all okay now,” he reassured me, unconcerned about the extras.

I walked up in silence to the manor, the gravel strewn across the driveway crackling beneath my feet. I looked back to see if my friend had managed to turn around and leave through the front gates. The car took a sharp right and moved back in the direction it had come, the music still audible from the distance and the light from his multimedia-set shining as it drove away into the infinite stretch of frozen darkness.