An invitation-only literary journal of writers' favorite, previously published stories and poems, not found elsewhere on the web ~~ edited by novelist Leslie Pietrzyk ~~
Sunday, July 5, 2015
#172: Two Poems by Bobbi Lurie
~This poem was previously published in Nimrod
afternoon I went to the jar, sank my finger in the honey.
one saw me so I let the sweetness linger on my tongue.
night I paint black around my eyes.
wash it off at morning.
everyone’s asleep, I draw on scraps of paper
I’ve collected, the backs of labels, edges torn from newspapers.
is my secret.
back from the highway with my brothers,
dropped my spade, went to lean against the shed,
Father’s voice coming from within.
was laughing with Abdullah who says he’ll buy me
three bags of wheat
Father’s done with me.
he does I’ll slash my body with petrol,
the match like Laida did.
watched those two fools empty a giant vat of honey
another vat, saw them pull out long tubes
scraped with their hands, licked with their tongues.
the amber honey, I saw guns.
caught me looking, jumped off his chair,
hands were claws dripping towards me,
me hard against the wall, grabbing me there.
screamed then spit on me.
couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak.
covered my face.
in the tent
was making lentils,
over the fire.
pulled the spoon from her hand, stirred the pot
if I were her daughter.
walking with my brothers, I saw Bashir.
was leaning against a wall, one leg missing.
knew, still a shock went through me
the dirty rags tied around his stump, the blood dried,
looked like pus.
how he stood as if he had a leg.
how we never speak
I walk through him with my eyes,
his hidden rooms.
was speaking with Khangal about the enemy
his soft eyes were blazing holes in me,
me to see the sky and trees with deeper color.
saw me looking, threw his spade hard against my leg,
pain was so intense. I bled and bled,
pressure on the wound with just my hand,
burkha drenched in blood,
pulled me up by my hair.
burned in the part of me which was not hurt.
Father had guests. I heard them say
liked the bread.
Mother took a nap.
did not say
baked it. She turned her back to me.
feel sickness inside me all the time.
enter the back rooms with my father,
out like a rat trapped in its maze,
escape in the next cage where Mother stands
the food, keeping us snared in this affliction called life.
I think of our martyrs dying for freedom.
would like to die for freedom.
But I am a woman
I do not believe in the paradise Father speaks about
he beats me with his stick.
everyday I keep collecting my scraps of paper.
when everyone’s asleep,
draw Bashir, his stump, my father with his guns,
mother hunched over the fire, stirring lentils.
draw them all out of me.
open myself to the darkness.
wait for night to speak.
~This poem was previously published in Karamu(2005).
WHAT WE REMEMBER
MAY NOT REMEMBER US
clouds and the shadows of the clouds.
early light, like the night undressing herself
pink beneath, underneath
glory and the intimacy
early love made of arms
the lingering promise
breathe into what is. . .
dead and dry as winter branches
poached and flattened
sky with its glaucoma stare
way you call yourself “I” and mean it
want to be seen as such
some idea which others can not see.
plain loneliness of painters.
lust for colors
the underneath of it.
was Modigliani who saved me
the dark unknowableness.
was the yellow and the green of it.
I can not tell them.
can not tell the painters or the colors what they have done.
I can not say what the clouds are.
shape passes me with its blues and its endless hues of white
light and the longing which bleeds
THE STORY BEHIND
of these poems express my gratitude for art and both came about spontaneously,
which is not something that happens all that often.
9/11, I wrote “Kabul,” juxtaposing facts I was devouring about women living
under The Taliban with realities I was never able to express in my own life. In
spite of all the trials of life under the restraints of a harsh and repressive
culture, making art in secret, is what saves the speaker’s, and this speaker’s, life.
writing “What We Remember
May Not Remember Us,” I was sitting on the floor, feeling an urge to paint or write about the beauty of
the trees outside my window, and it struck me that the people (the artists) who
showed me how to live were people I would never be able to meet or thank. This
is a poem of gratitude for the artists who help me survive my life.
Bobbi Lurie is the author of four poetry
collections, most recently, the morphine
poems (Otoliths, Australia). The beginning
chapters of her book on Marcel Duchamp can be found in Berfrois.