They say there was a life before these days,
A world beyond the prisms of our porch,
A time before greensickness perched above
Our doors, before the pasty smog of death
would hourly muzzle against our windowpanes.
They say these streets, these hollowed marrowed slabs,
Would cinder night and day with fumes that choke
And cough, combusting. Faces twined, enflamed,
And sinister would rattle at the wheel
And stew about to end important things.
They say these towns and storefronts once had doors
That opened, beckoned, beamed with sweet salute.
And food and drink was brought before the guests
And passed around, and offered, shared, and thanked.
And greeters traded joy by mouth and hand,
And shoulders brushed, and hips, and lips, and cheeks,
And bad boys buzzed about the budding girls,
And old men laughed, and bitterness was sweet.
And in the night, as storefronts closed their doors,
The mobs and misfits all came out to play
To hurl their smites and strokes upon their day
As sorcerers and wizards of the sound
Would cast electric fire from the mound
While horns and strings and buttons shook the ground,
And from the dais stirred their holy ghosts
And summoned love and peace and jungle tides.
I’ve heard it said that back in the marsh of time,
The children swung from colored metal bars,
And gathered on the grass, beneath the sky,
To kick and shout and ride and swing and sigh.
Those children, now in exile from their homes
Of desks and chairs and books and candid words
Must press their hearts and minds against a screen.
But back in ancient times, they ran amok
And played their parts so well: complained, rebelled.
And we Kauravas, masters, enemies,
In mask and garb, commenced to stave their taunts
With dates and deadlines, essays, quizzes, tests.
Our Temples, Dojos, Classrooms, now for sale,
The price of life a cost too great to bear.
Today, a tang is brimming from the pipes;
Anemic veins like winding vines
Serpentine about the chest and heel,
The tentacles of the murk of dusk
Silhouetted in an evening flush.
Stay Home, but how, when Home is work and school,
The park, the bench, the beach, the guest, the shop,
The club, the gym, the diner, the lounge, the books,
The passenger seat? The one-night cheap hotel?
Home, my pet, is your mouth, your skin,
Your grip, your drip, your nip, your clap.
Home is the tug of loathsome lovers,
Home the thrash of a worthy foe,
The flappy shake of Ammu’s hand.
Home is hope at the base of a can of paint.
And rising, reeling, reeking from the marsh:
The stench of rot, the wailing walls and lots,
A funereal muff, a thrashing strangulation,
The seams of houses taut, distended,
The buckling bricks, the corners’ creaking joints,
The crackling floorboards, the splintering glass,
Hissing chimneys, the gullet prepared to spout.
Houses the bigger the emptier,
Lawns the larger, the farther away from dawn.
Walk like mad, walk like hell.
Walk the streets the miles the blocks,
Walk away despair and fear and hate!
Stop not, that ye be not stopped!
The night, the night, is much too long.
Let there be dawn! Let there be light!
Let there be room and air and sex and smut!
Give me a chug; how much more life
Can I suck from the end of this crinkled straw?
greensickness “Out, greensickness carrion” “Romeo and Juliet” 3.5. perched above / Our doors “perched above my chamber door” “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. muzzle against our windowpanes “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot. played their parts “As You Like It” 2.8. Kauravas the cousins and rival army of the Pandavas in the “Bhagavad Gita”. one-night cheap hotel “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Ammu “respected elder” in Arabic. Stop not…be stopped The Bible KJV Matthew 7:1-2. Let there be light The Bible KJV Genesis 1.3.
Read more by Yousef Alqamoussi.