Sound

Standard

“Too Many Kids Finding Rain in the Dust” 

A broken hand frets on a violin
and violently tells me that it does not aim
for the song of birds.
Intentionally fingers press wrongly on metal strings,
with the disconcerting intensity of the strike of a bow
exposing us as bats in the light of
a pop of a gun or the bang of a bomb.
We scurry upwards and
downwards to
keep close to the Lazarus darkness

As children’s feces smear on each other like paint on a palette.
There’s no innocence in this colored nightmare,
and no remorse in this black death.
There shall be no ringing of bells or screams –
but an announcement to bring out our dead
and die for them once again.

Metempsychosis

Giving Up The Ghost

Standard

I don’t know what has gotten into him. He walks heavily, as if struggling through mire. He talks slowly, lightly, quietly. He barely looks at me. He just wanders around the apartment like a cat getting acquainted with its new home, afraid and insecure.

When he’s not walking around. He’s drinking something. Coffee. Tea. Whisky. Pepsi. I tell him to come near me. “Come sit next to me.” I tell him to confide in me. “Come we’ll share a joint and you’ll tell me all about it.”

It. Ambiguous. Vague. Perhaps non-existent. And my pleading is met with nothing, spurring my frustration, agonizingly twisting my spine. I want to help. I need to help. For us.

Us. Charged now with a possible schism. Us. Breaking apart, a rupture, a fissure caused by a communication breakdown. We sit in front of each other; a medium of silence between us becomes viscous in its transparency. His eyes seem to be looking right through me, right through the wall, towards a horizon not knowing a boundary; empty.

“So what do you see?” I ask him to show me the invisible.

He puffs smoke in no particular direction, the cigarette still in his lips, burning and being the only track of time. A quarter of a cigarette has passed.

Half a cigarette. No response. “So what do you feel?”

And it becomes pathetic. Ash falls on his lap; his gaze doesn’t budge, still staring at the horizon as if it’s a black dog that he had lost in his childhood and has finally found again.

A cigarette. I get up; go to bedroom where my laptop is open. I sit down, and notice that he has followed me. Something tells me he needs me, and I smile. But he looks at the laptop and disgruntled, he rolls his eyes, dissatisfied and deeply annoyed.

“What? Tell me!” I shout and go after him. He turns when I put my hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t stress it,” he says, “I’m down. I’m out. Just let it be and it’ll go soon.”

“Why don’t you talk to me? Don’t make me miss you when you’re right here in front me.”

“Don’t make this about you. This is not about you.”

“It’s not about me. It’s totally about you. It’s just you and all I want to talk about is you. Just share it. Whatever it is.”

A mild vibration of anticipation reverberates between us. His eyes seem to wander towards the horizon again, but this time it’s the horizon of expectation; he summons what he wants to see and he describes it.

“Come closer.” And I approach his open arms which enfold me. I feel his heartbeat, steady. His hands are on my back like blocks of ice. I feel unwelcome and uncomfortable in his arms, but I close my eyes and withstand the coldness of his murderous embrace.

“I keep thinking about this story. A story about a writer.” A story about him, a writer. “A writer who’s dead, and it’s a great tragedy that he has died so young, full of promise. Withdrawn. Finally, his few remaining friends, more fans than friends, take a chance to go through his belongings, his once vaulted private apartment. When they’re looking through his house, rummaging, digging like treasure hunters through his notes, they find tons of letters addressed to this girl called Ariadne…who no one knew about.” He holds me tighter. “This mystery, this elusive lady, this stranger to life who has been born in the memory as a result of his death, her only record of existence borne in their old fashioned correspondence is suddenly the centre of attention of his death.” He swallows.

“And?” My limbs suffocate, the blood in them turning cool, my breath smoking out of my mouth.

“And she’s there but not there.”

“And why is that making you feel this way? As if she got away from you?” A tinge of emotion in my voice, creaking.

“She’s raging between the crowd and dark alleys with nothing but a thin dress to cover her. She’s crying, and I can hear her. She’s miserable and I can feel her. She’s real and I can remember her.”

And he lets go.

“I remember her with her camera, attached to her like a mechanical twin, a technological advancement like no other. I remember the elaborate set designs and the formless images that resulted, the surreal, the magnified humanity caught in a still-image. And this still-image of her in my mind is what I remember…”

And he’s moving away and I’m like a marble statue, questions and inquiries running through my head like a gushing wound, searing as it violently rushes, driven by insight that is slowly overcoming my previous blindness.

“…I see her the way she was. Naked under the rain. On her knees and bending down, arching her back like a cat. Her hair is tightly tied, but there’s a perfect fringe cascading her forehead. Her eyes defiantly look forward even though the umbrella is completely useless, completely destroyed. This is how I left her.”

“When did you leave her?”

“But sometimes, her head rotates and she looks at me with the same look, the same expression, and my soul shrivels up, covered with contrition and guilt. A ghost haunting me in its non-being. There but not there. A spectre.”

“Why didn’t you tell me about it before?”

“You wouldn’t have understood it correctly. You’d have assumed too much. You would have read too much into it.”

“And why is she pre-occupying you now in particular?”

“Because of this.”

He takes out a shriveled wrinkled piece of paper from his pocket. Smudgy handwriting in the centre; artistic.

“Read it aloud,” he says as he lights another cigarette and sits on the couch. I start.

You left me. I knew it before I came home that day. I knew that I would not find you. And I know why you did it this way. You would have told me that we can stay friends, and I would have accepted that because I would’ve taken anything like a fool. I would’ve accepted that even though I would’ve known that I can’t handle it. And after my shameful acceptance, I would see you with another girl and that would kill me. So in a way I should thank you for that. But you still left me, with nothing. Not a trial at an explanation. My heart sighed endlessly. My body cried incessantly.

Half a cigarette. My eyes seeing nothing but the page.

She’d be really nice. She’d be amazing. So amazing I would’ve been her friend if she weren’t your deepest bond, like I used to be. I’d see you with her and then every thought of you would be accompanied by her perfect being next to you, an image which no lens can capture except that of the mind. The way you’d hold her would, the way you’d kiss her, the way you’d try to make her smile when she’s miserable, lying on the ground, weighed down by the burden of history; or is she not like me? Is she not a hassle? Would you be the one weighed down by history? By the memory of us still itching your thoughts? Anyway. I…

He stands, the contrite look on his face; my cheeks flourishing with a red hue. There’s no need to read it anymore.

Do you want to go?” I ask.

“No.” A fading utterance.

“What do you want?”

“I want to forget.”

"Then let’s go inside and forget. We’ll put all her letters on the bed and drown them in the pool of milk and glue and relish their death.”

Homunculus

Standard

Taking advantage of a rare opportunity, I drive like a maniac to Najeeb Haqd’s house from my workplace, the headquarters of the only English newspaper in the country. I speed past cars on my 2002 Suzuki Volty. This is the first time he agrees for an interview, the J.D. Salinger of this country, the isolated writer with the critical eye; he’s given me a one hour window. I whiz past cars driving slowly now that the new traffic control cameras have been ghostly installed.

The wet ground makes me hesitant to break, so I just twist my fist and speed up; there is no time to lose. In the inner city of Beirut, where the cramped and tight streets force me to drive agonizingly slow, I manoeuvre in dark alleys and side roads like an experiment rat trying to find the way to my reward through a labyrinth made to make me suffer in my search.

But I find it; an old, lopsided building, ominously standing like an aged man fighting gravity. It lives up to its reputation; the only reason it has not been touched by excavators and bulldozers is the promise of it being a national landmark in the future, The Home of Haqd. I park the motorcycle next to the entrance of the building and press the button next to the “Mr. Haqd” label. I hear someone lifting the handle, a presence at the other end of the interphone line, but no sound, just a buzz which opens the door. I feel like a tomb raider as I enter the building, the smell of dust permeating through the entrance, and the elevator too old to function. I climb the stairs two steps at a time although there’s no light to guide my way. Three stories up, I knock on the wooden door which can be easily broken.

I think of the questions I want to ask him: How do you create your characters? The supernatural is essential for you in your writings, what do you think it adds to your work? What is your favourite environment to write in?

The door opens quickly and a bit of light seeps from the inside, but then it’s gone. A gaunt figure wearing a hoody comes out and tells me to follow him in a solemn voice, not commanding, and not subservient, simply menacing, like the scratching sound of a quill on a parchment; the clicking of the keyboard.

“Mr. Haqd?” I ask, but of course it’s him. Even in the darkness as we descend the stairs, I know it’s him, I can strangely feel his eerie ambience taking control of our night-time meeting. Taking control of my movement, of my words, of my being.

“Come, just follow me,” he says again, a slight irritation in his voice.

I don’t ask questions, I just do what I’m told for fear of wasting the opportunity. I mentally record every little detail of every step he takes, the way his right foot slightly curves inward as he steps on it; how his right arm doesn’t move, but how his left arm keeps his balance as he pounces with every step. Every minute or two, he looks back at me, checking if I’m there, and occasionally, he utters a warning, “keep up, I won’t wait or come back for you!”

Ten minutes into our walk, a gloomy solitary promenade, met with the eerie blowing of the night wind, we arrive at what seems to be like a metal fence, withered and rusted. Najeeb Haqd starts climbing and hesitation strikes my head like a scythe as I realize that we’re breaking into a cemetery.

“Are you coming? Don’t be afraid, there’s no one inside,” he says and quickly jumps to the other side of the fence.

I start climbing and images of men with sheep’s feet, of little dwarfs with wrinkly skin, overlapping over itself like sandy dunes, of mutilated bodies and limbs walking around haunt my mind. The darkness of imagination and the darkness of the night mingle, and the result is fear, as I wobble behind the mouth of critical words like a dull tail, not knowing how to progress in the darkened depths of night.

Inside the bounds of the dead, the gravestones, dull and convenient, burst like hidden stars as I make my way behind a contemptible thin body, barely existing if it weren’t for his sporadic and random manuscripts.

We stop at a grave and he brings out a small gas lighter which has a lead bulb on the bottom side. He lights the gravestone and reads out the name. Wafiq Ghanem. He writes it down on a small notepad he also digs up from his pocket. He turns around and lights another headstone. Bilal Hijazi.

“What’s on your mind?” he asks, his voice not rising above the sound of the wind’s playful dance around the channels of marble headstones.

“Nothing. I’m just waiting.”

“Waiting for what?”

“For you to tell me what to make of this.”

He doesn’t reply. He simply sits on one of the stones, the wind becomes fiercer and wet with the residue of rain hanging on the trees surrounding the cemetery. I keep my gaze at the place from where the infamous author spoke, waiting for him to utter and tell me what to do next. An unnerving sound echoes in the pitch black surrounding and breaks the silence.

“Mr. Haqd?” Sheep’s legs, small dwarfs, limbs are projected on the screen of darkness. “Mr. Haqd?”

“Do you remember anything before I called you?”

I try to. I try to remember events that happened at work, but I draw blanks.

“Don’t be scared, this is what we’re here for.” He says, still very calm as the noise around us heightens, definitely not the wind. “Okay, get ready,” he tells me. I sense him move.

“Get ready for what?” His gas lighter is on. He is standing up, his arms aloft.

“Do not run away,” he shouts, as if preaching.

“Are you talking to me?” I ask, but he does not acknowledge me.

“I have come to watch you play.” He looks at me and says, “You have to know that I only write about the dead because it’s convenient to give them a voice. I need to find out how old you are.”

“I’m—”

And the light is gone. A pull. A shove. I’m on the ground and I’m mentally recording every little detail, the sound of breaking stones, the intricate fizzing of the worms in the damp soil, the movement of snails on the moist tombstones. I am mentally recording everything. The trotting of sheep legs and the voices of males with rough voices above me. Little djinns laugh like babies full of malice, their mouths full of crooked teeth; their skin rough and rugged like canvas. I mentally record everything my imagination gives away. Everything is recorded, written down. Mr. Haqd is absent.

A flame runs through me, and light hits my eyes, the light of the sun. I wake up, still in the cemetery. My eyelids burn when I blink, as if my eye fluid has turned into an acidic compound. But everything is clear. The tombstones, the trees, the fence. I look around, I see the names, Wafiq Ghanem; Bilal Hijazi. And next to them, I see a familiar name, my own, and next to it, the inscribed years, 1976 – 2004.

I run. I run away. I jump over the fence and make my way to the old withered building with amazing speed. I see my Suzuki Volty. I climb three floors and knock on the door fiercely. The wooden door opens and I see Mr. Haqd sitting in one of the rooms, writing. He turns to me and says, “I’m glad to see you once again.”

He chuckles as I look down and see my sheep legs shiver.

Missing Sections

Standard

IMAG006A

On events such as this, I can draw and outline my heart on my chest. Its borders burn perfectly. I can feel the blood being pumped through it like you’d feel something moving when you put your hand on the hood of a car. I can hear it move just like you would hear the internal mechanisms of a hard disk drive. I can sense it slowly becoming dysfunctional.

Mother sits nonchalantly on her favoured couch, the only couch worth mentioning in her simple version of the world. Her legs are crossed, but without the bitchy attitude most women have; mother is simply attitude-lacking. Her eyes are fixated on the television screen on which people are almost exponentially dying. The exponential decay of virtual reality draws her in.

My phone rings in my room and suddenly I am more than just a mere observer of a Mother who sits lifelessly watching a TV and smoking, puffing nothingness. I walk steadily to my room. I see the phone flashing; I hear it vibrate amidst the books and breadcrumbs on the desk. I read the text-message I just received. Another someone asking for another favour. Another carbon-based creature feigning interest in order to use me as a means to an end.

For some reason, the more the phone rings, the more forsaken I feel. Psychic vampires can suck you dry from a distance.

Experience has taught me to always say and write what is necessary, to avoid misunderstandings and the risk of being misinterpreted. I try to be as simple as possible in a world complicated by the many impeding events, ideas and thoughts that drop descend like fiery arrows from a fifteenth century English army.

I’m in the university library, waiting for that carbon-based creature to enter the study-hall. The people around me look like my Mother. They sicken me.

In the past, I felt a need to explain myself, and so I did. But I failed, miserably. Only then did I entertain myself with the idea of absence, and ever since, I practice absence; I reduce any source of misunderstanding to mere blotches. I bracket these blotches and surgically. like a sown wound, these brackets contain whatever I needed to say but didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t.

She comes. I can’t even remember her name. Behind her, the all conquering and invaluable darkness reminds me of how vague details can be. Most people will prefer to stay in the dark, in virtual reality, than to try and understand. Her high heels tap on the floor, flaunting her vain presence. Her perfume, a hybrid scent of chemicals so dissimilar from natural pheromones that it disturbs me as it infiltrates my nostrils and dwells in them like a dwarf inside its mountain cave.

She touches me and my soul is as limp as ever. She sucks me dry and my will and power become shadows of a thought. For hours I remain in the swoon of this bedazzling psychic vampire. For hours, she asks and I answer succinctly. But as she tries to give closure to her sucking-kiss, lightning flashes outside, illuminating the darkness. In that second of illumination, the magnificent lightning gives a paradoxical reminder. By being so powerful a light amidst the pitch-black darkness, the lightning, at one and the same moment, forced my complete attention to two different things. The lightning in-itself and the darkness which surrounds it. The lightning in-itself blinded me, but this blinding gave me an in-sight of the darkness outside. And now I remember the details.

I open up the sown bracketed laceration and words pour through like a revelation being recited to me by an arch-angel. My heart finds room for its flooding. I wrap a paper as if it were a horn and place it on my lips and I blow through it with my detailed account. The psychic vampire looks at me. She is disturbed, as are all the people around me who resemble my Mother now more than ever. My excess disrupts their trance.

This is all the same. I have been bitten again, I think as the faces stare me down and melt me with their fiery eyes; my Mother’s eyes whip me with their scorn. Two versions of my mother come and drag me and I’m silent now. I bracket the laceration again, like a surgeon. I have been misunderstood and misinterpreted again. I have been persecuted again, and the subsistence will be sustained. The brackets bound the missing sections of my presence. The brackets transform presence into absence, insignificant absence. They close them up like a freshly closed laceration, a soon-to-be scar, endlessly signifying an end, but always, due to its heterogeneous tissue, springing anew.

[Missing Section]

Natural_Scarring_by_ominous90

The Arrival of the Sun (The Departure of Shame)

Standard

I’m crawling. I’m sidelined, but I need no sympathy. Fear takes precedence over the minds of the weak ones. And will they ever see the sun?

The sun, its terror is so great; we feel it without looking at it. The darkness is full of memories. You only know that a spirit of a person is dead when all you have is memories. Remembrance is the most tacit form of mourning.

I saw her in the dark after she had left me, and she was walking towards me, ignorant of the fact that I’m facing her, that she’s walking back into my arms. She kept on walking until the sun rose up, and she saw me waiting, humble and weak. I did not ask for respect, but for the violent impulse which speeds the inertia which pushes her to me, and maybe that violent impulse will kill us both.  I kept myself in the dark all through the night so that I become a taboo in her mind. The truth is one, once the taboo faces you, you leap onto it in an animalistic violent sexual frenzy, but the erotic leap in itself makes us human, a leap with no calculation, forgetting the past, and refraining from enslaving the present to the future; this is as close as we can die without ceasing to live, it is living equally with death. The sun is transgression.

Will they ever see the sun?

I cannot keep on walking through this discontinuous cycle born out of fear and restraint. It all feels the same. The same fears, the same inhibitions, the same irrationality, the same impersonality, the same sidelining, the same unimportance. I realize that it is an epidemic. It’s religion, but misunderstood; it’s monotheistic and it commits people to a human life of work with no animal respite. Alienation made divine. What happens when the fear is gone? When God dies? Irresponsible, undisciplined degradation in a dark abyss.

I am not comfortable writing this. I will be the victim, the words act as torturer.

As civilized as I try to be, my silence always comes out as violent, but I dare not speak, and now Language, my tool, betrays me, and treason tastes bitter when I realize that I’m the executioner as well.

I cannot project a complete corporeal image on anything around me. I am finding trouble defining my spirit in this place, among these people of constant deficit change. Will they ever know that their ways are faulty and their thoughts are part of a dictated narrative existing and feeding on differences. They live on negative definitions, and negatively, they try to find a purpose by looking at origins from the past, and passively they die in the darkness of history.

But a purpose does not imply an origin. An origin does not imply purpose. Knowledge was made not for understanding, but for cutting, an anatomical cut which opens up gaps and formidable abysses.

She is thirsty still and confused. She will always think of herself as incomplete, missing, lacking. She will never be satisfied because a part of her has been cut, but not anatomically, disfiguringly, and knowledge has been lost, growth has been impeded; a mind has been scarred, and a soul has been amputated.

I sense a desire in her, a desire for uninhibited freedom which scares me. This city does not help. This city will not let you stand tall if you are not submitting to its shallow routine. This city will not let you stand proud if you ignore its calls for lavish spending and religious devotion. So how can one not lose his way in this city of religious fear? The rotten morning breath of fear stinks up the empty streets at dawn, intoxicates the population in their sleep, that great punisher who will lynch them in their slumber, choke them for a misdeed. Fear replaces everything: duty, responsibility, morality, care, respect, compassion, aspiration, freedom, sex. Fear becomes a belief based on deceit.

The more I know her, the less I can contain and understand the various impulses that control her. I wish I can cut through her, correctly, to open her up before my eyes and gaze at everything in her, everything which makes her a complete whole. I cannot trust her until I know the truth which lurks inside of her.

But we revel in discontinuity, and suspicion will remain a monster which tears me with its million claws and deafens me with its thunderous roar.

For now, I’ll allow my silence to take the form of violence, and my language to be dubbed as civilized, even though I’ll know that the violence is silenced, and it is not the silence in itself which is violent. I want no sympathy. I know what is needed and I know how to get it, but now is not the time. I can’t force the sun, the creator and destructor, that great eye in the sky which will shine and finally we will all be able to defecate comfortably without shame and reach a sacred continuity.

Darkness Within

Standard

The mother’s womb was only good for one thing: Darkness. When within Darkness, there is no possibility of experience, no possibility of life, no possibility of human activity, of destructive thoughts.

See your reflection in the window. Look at the glass surface and see repugnance in the eyes which stare back at you. See the world through this glass surface, with yourself always taking centre stage. Then let a light shine on that surface and bid adieu to the semi-transparent reflection; lose your Self. See the world for the first time through the looking glass, without you and your mind and your intuitive forces and your temporal order and spatial ordering. Try to imagine the world before your Being, before your consciousness.

I received my parents’ light and the light labelled me as free. I labelled my parents as impenitent, and I, in turn, can never forgive them. The light struck me, and rules hit me like stones. They told me I can only be free within the boundaries of the stones. I lived in the bright shadow of the righteous. The light bequeathed a shameful past and a hopeless future. It overhauled the dark moments in which I did not see the shadow of a past or the haze of a future. In its absence, the Darkness fascinated me. I realized that in the moments of Darkness we never cry in vain; it is only when we see the first light, when we are first born, do our plights take the form of failure, and the darkness around us, becomes hidden darkness within us.

I think about the therapy session: the therapist with ardently glaring eyes. I cannot look at her feminine eyes. They are far too caring to look at. I try to think of what to say. I want people to stop treating me like an object which can be discarded, overhauled, forgotten; I want to be a subject again. I want people to realize that I am not their possession. I no longer want to see myself as a corpse in relation to everyone; I want people to recognize that choosing to know someone is a responsibility in itself. I also want to go back to when my existence did not take the form of a colossal question with spinning, contradictory and riddled answers. Her eyes, sympathetic, caring, but unhelpful.

The Darkness sears inside, in the depths; it yearns to envelope me again, and I desire it as well, the sweet last caress of Darkness. The fever brings me closer to my beloved Darkness—tunnel vision—dims the lights of existence.  The more my body resists it, the more it secretes black bile which sinks me deeper in melancholy; weighs me down to under-earth where I’m buried alive in thoughts which work their own way from my brain into my soul and infect me with their Enlightenment.

The therapist’s room, beige walls, a flamed rouge couch, the sound of students scurrying obliviously without inquiry into why or how. Their existence—not in the form of a question—passes lightly.

The Darkness wraps a noose around my stomach. This undeclared affair gives me solace; but when Darkness is away, I weep for solace to come back, for my source of Self-destruction.

The stones that bound me shift a little upon my father’s will; everything falls to his will, even my purity, as he touched me, broke me with his Masonic hands which changed the stone boundaries very often.

I would’ve loved to be aborted when I was in Darkness instead of slowly being erased by the same hands that made me.

So now I strip away my skin, I drain the black bile in my carnal den, so I can save the darkness within.