Haiku # 670

مرَةً في السنة تتذكرني
رياح الخريف


مع اقتراب الموت
لم أعد أرى
الا الضوء في وجهها


As death approached
I could only see
the light in her face


الموت والحب الضائع
من هذع الحياة لم أعرف
الا مرّ طعمها


…إن الله شاعر
عرفته وأنا اقرأ ما كتب
في بحر عينيها


My mother’s cancer…
every day a new flower
blooms in her body


Tanka # 154

On her deathbed
telling me of the painting
she dreamed of while she slept,
hoping that one day
she would paint again.

One of the things that hurt me deeply is the memory of my sister a few months before she passed away telling me of her vision of a painting she conceived of in her sleep. She wanted to paint again, and wanted that painting to be her first after she recovered. She never did. Sarah passed away on February 03, 2015. The pain is still as fresh as if it was yesterday.


instantly present
when a person dies;
yet true obituaries
are written long after
in the hearts and minds
of those whose life
was intimately shared,
and they are not called
obituaries then,
they are known
by a hundred other names,
by a hundred other facts,
they are the shared moments
and their intimate depths
growing in the seedbed of life,
they are a hand still moving with ours,
and a heart beating in our own,
loving as we love,
crying as we cry,
they are the imagined togetherness
still breathing in and breathing out
as we carry upon our shoulders
the weight and the promise
and pledge in our daily bread
the laughter and the tears
of all that brought us together
and the death that made us part,
continuing our journey,
witnessing with our eyes and theirs
right into our own demise.

A Hymn to Lost Childhood

The quiet
of a winter evening,
the church bells
tolling somewhere
in the days of my childhood
all around are falling
like white flowers,
the dew of their voices
burning with a question:
where have the days gone?
The faces vanished in the shadow
where are they now?
What poems have become
of their halos?
Is their laughter
still weeping into a mighty river
and converging with everything
in the heart of the great sea?
You friends who have wandered
far and away I miss you
with every note
of my bleeding heart,
I miss you
and I fold the petals of your laughter
between the pages
in the book of my days.
The fragrance of your faces
now rises like incense
in the air of the cold evening,
you burning grains of silence
from a time an eternity away,
between me and you
the gulf is insurmountable
though the field you live in
has my boots covered in mud
from walking it every day.
Tonight I wear my thick coat
and go out into your field again,
the field of childhood,
the field of every beginning and end,
and I smile and a tear hugs my cheek
as under a dry leaf
a star from that bygone time
smiles and peeks.
All is not lost, my friends,
and the laughter we shared
is still carrying us
into the heart of the great sea.
Let the days tear and bend and push away
we will have our day again,
and though our bones may rest
our day will outlast the last burning sun,
a flower in an unknown garden,
a stream in an unknown field.

Free Verse # 384 (my book of love)

Batroun, November 2016

In my book of love
and so long as I can remember
I’ve been writing you
a poem each day,
and each day
I’ve been burning
this poem in your heart,
its smoke the incense
that fills my lungs,
the perfume that scents
the vineyard of my nights and days.


He drew her to his chest
like the arms of the forest
draw the falling leaves
in heaps over the breast of the earth
to eternal sleep and rest.


Dawn finds us,
two bodies shivering wet
interlocked inside the fist
of a single heartbeat,
the vapor of our skin
mist drifting in the wind,
filling the rivers and forests
with love’s ancient voice,
a soft moan unfurling its dew
on the cheeks of the green earth.


Like darkness in the wine
she resides in my soul,
the ferment of my longings,
my ache and hope.


Avec toi je marche
à l’infini des étoiles,
à la place d’où est tombé
le premier des poèmes.


Dirt under my fingernails,
dust on my clothes,
all day since dawn
in her vineyards I toil,
at night I fill my soul
with the wine of her mind.


My breath at dawn…
petals burned
in the fire of longing,
their ashes
in the rising sun
an aura of fragrance
whispering your name.


…and I with my ear
on night’s heaving chest
hear your name uttered
in wisps of dew and starlight…


The owl on your favorite teacup
hoots in the lonely night,
‘where are you? where are you?’
no one crossing over
to touch me with your light.

Standing by Your Grave

I wanted to stay by your grave
and watch over you
and guard you
and keep you company
and tell you that
inside in the darkness
you are not alone,
I wanted to stay
and wait for you,
for the day of your return,
of your rolling the stone
and coming back to life,
smiling, laughing
like you always used to,
as if you haven’t left at all,
as if we only separated for a moment
and in that tiny moment
you were just out with your friends,
or working on one of your paintings,
perhaps that one you painted for me
and you never got to finish.

I am staying by your grave,
and though I know in my heart
that you told me not to,
to go on on my way,
and that my waiting is just absurd,
I know, sister, I know, Sarah
and I can almost hear your voice,
but your voice, you see,
the wind has carried,
and the wind has lost it somewhere,
deep in the woods,
or high in the sky.

So I stand by your grave and wait
and sometimes your voice
dews on my face,
and I wake up to myself crying,
and I wake up to myself
telling you that I love you,
that every bone in my body
has missed you
with such an excruciating
and indescribable pain,
I wake up to myself crying
and holding out my heart
like a candle shivering
in the rain and in the dark
and waiting for you to come back,
to lift the darkness
and come back home.

How much can a heart take?

Once, soon after my sister returned from a coma from which no one said she’d survive, we went to watch a play at the theater for a very famous Lebanese artist. She always wanted to watch him. It was so painful and difficult for her to walk down then back up across all the stairs. She had completely lost her muscles from the coma and the chemo and the radiation and the cortisone fallout. Anyhow, she made it. Her will as well as her joy were unbreakable. We watched the play, and I can still remember her face. I sat next to her, all anxious and fidgety about something going wrong, something happening to her. I couldn’t relax. Every now and then she’d turn to me and smile. I can never forget her smile. On our way back we had the windows of the car open and an smell from the street was wafted in. So I noted, ‘what an ugly smell.’ But she, she sat next to me glowing, literally lit, and she told me ‘no, the scent is beautiful.’ The appreciation of someone who truly tasted and to the marrow the fragility of life, and learned the true taste of living. After her coma she thought herself reborn, and believed it was for a purpose. No one hanged on to life more than Sarah; no one with more hope, strength, and joy. And yet the odds were so terribly against her, in spite of how much we loved her. And boy the infinity of the sky knows how much we loved her, how much we love her, and what Sarah means to us. Once, towards the end, she was in such horrible and unending pain that she started screaming her lungs out, asking God Why? Telling him that ‘I’m such a good person, that I never hurt anyone.’ ‘Sarah is such a good and loving person. Sarah never hurt anyone.’ And I and her mom and her husband stood there, helpless, eating our hearts out, massaging her, telling her it will be okay, that she will pull through, and will have the daughter she wanted. Sarah didn’t pull through, though she hanged on to life to a point where the doctors did not know any longer how she was alive. Sarah loved life, and she loved her life. It still feels unreal that she is gone, and it always will. I still feel that at any moment at night she will come and knock on the door and I will open and hug her and cry to infinity. I still feel uneasy and guilty locking the door at night, as if I’m locking her out. But Sarah will not come. Sarah will not come. And so I will go to her, I will join her, one day. How can such a pain exist on the face of the earth? How much can a heart take?

Into The Dark

Into the dark we go,
in the sacred house of darkness
totally submerged
totally muted
we pray
‘Oh darkness, whole and holy,
with your dark liquid
fill our bones,
bless us as your altar
and upon the stone of our ribs
break your sacred stone,
burn us into you
oh holy mother,
ever so cruel,
ever so merciful,
and through the grace
of your unfathomable womb
again kiss life into our souls,
hold up to us your mirror
of dark water
and let us drown in the revelation
of the fire of which we are born,
the fire that is the face of our face,
our womb, our core.
We depart now, holy mother,
but only with the promise of return,
for as the day emerges out of night
only to return again
so we shall come back to you
and bless you
for your darkness and your pain,
bless you for birthing us
again and again
and countless times unto eternity,
each time as embodiments
imperfectly perfect
pulsating with the energy of love.’

Inspired by my friend Allison Marie.