I met Jane on a clear Saturday night, weighed down by a combination of blended scotch and homegrown marijuana. She sat on top of a stone ledge that overlooked a fire pit in the patio, legs tightly crossed. It wasn’t her beauty that got my attention, but her expression; a hybrid of sullen and calm. Almost as if she knew she was being watched, she kept her eyes discreet and focused on the flames. When I eventually made my way towards her general direction, she looked up instinctively and readjusted the hem of her silk dress, her freshly polished nails gleaming in the firelight. We locked eyes for a fraction of a second, and just as her face lightened up I stopped in my tracks. I drew out a cigarette from my pack. Turning to face the other direction after lighting my smoke, I pretended that I was just people watching.
Tied down by her dreams
A woman begins to wonder
If she could stay young forever,
When she’s awake she’s lonely
For the fake men
Waking her with pillow talk,
Because at night she’s happy,
Sleep talking, moon walking.
There is a different joy in leaving
In progressive ways of healing,
There is a fright felt in our calm
Questions, facts and qualms,
There is a pretty girl who’s bleeding
And a hundred men retreating,
There is a sorrow in our delight
A negative optimist and his plight,
There is a patience in our hunger
That fills us up from under,
There is a silent man this evening
His thoughts, they seem appealing.
I don’t know you-
If we had met in a room
Full of people
I would have tried to charm you,
And I’d swirl whiskey in my glass
And you’d hear that I have not three
But two cubes of ice,
And I’d smile a lopsided smile
While talking outlandish nonsense,
A goofy kind-
The only kind I know,
And maybe you’d smile back,
Or maybe you’d be nervous
And bite your lower lip
But I’d notice-
I’m good with details,
If you only knew
All the stupid shit I’ve done.
The maulvi’s in the mosques around my house have five competitions every day. They try to one-up each other at the crack of dawn for about fifteen to seventeen minutes, and then pretend like it never happened. This goes on till right after sundown, after which I imagine they drink honey-lemon-water and rest their throats for the next showdown.
I see them on the streets outside strangers’ houses, discussing community betterment and righteous living, but when it’s time for the Azaan, they sneakily retreat back into their domains, rubbing their hands and clearing their throats. You can see that their eyes narrow, their pace becomes brisk and they only have one mission- to scream as loudly as they can into their microphones so people take notice.
Not to say the Azaan isn’t a calming and rejuvenating beckon. It’s harmonious and allows even the most occupied person the opportunity to self-reflect. It’s a glorious proclamation. But over where I live, some shit isn’t right.
I’d understand if there was a solitary call to prayer for a neighborhood. We would enjoy it, open our windows to hear it better even. Or even if multiple mosques did want to have separate Azaans and they coordinated so that they wouldn’t overlap. Maybe they could be spaced out at four minute intervals. Maybe they could all have walkie-talkies and start at the same time, making one synchronized mega Azaan that would rock the neighborhood to the core. I’m sure they’d like that more anyway.
I saw them carry in a stereo system into one of the smaller mosques this morning. Not just any stereo but one that you see at weddings and high-budget parties that purposely make it harder for two sane people to have a conversation. The ones that if you go close enough disrupt your heartbeat and jumpstart your system. I saw two little girls in the house next to the mosque crying as they peered over from their terrace into the mosque’s courtyard and said goodbye to their peace of mind. Doomed before damnation.
I don’t remember the last time someone bought me a cake on my birthday
I don’t eat birthday cakes, anniversary cakes, graduation cakes.. any of that shit.
People try force you of course:
“Dude.. Eat it! It’s soooo good. Would you just look at the fondant??? It tastes EVEN better than it looks. OH MY FUCKING GOD IT’S AMAZING I CAN’T EVEN!”
Then they convulse in their excitement. Their eyes pop out of their sockets and drool slips between the gaps of their teeth and spills over their lips onto their cheeks. Warm, drippy, viscous drool mixed with semi-dry cake debris. They claw at their temples; they just can’t take the flavor. They’re loving it though. They want to scrub every inch of their bodies with dark chocolate malt cake with vanilla bean icing and forget about their troubles. Screw paying rent. The dog can feed himself. I didn’t want to get married anyway.
You wish I’d eat that cake. I’d rather gouge my eyes out. I’d rather stab you in the throat with a candle and watch you try to swallow the little bit of icing that was trickling down your throat. I’d rather bite down on my tongue and hope I can’t taste anything afterward. That’s how much I want to eat your cake.
“Isn’t it beautiful?”,they say, “look look look! The flower on top is real! Not like one of those cheap cakes you buy from the store. Mmmmm!” Rubbing their hands on their tummies like all of a sudden they’ve become pregnant and the cake baby is their new purpose in life. Disgusting. Goddamn disgusting.
So I stay away from the cake, from the superficial excitement. One birthday, I’ll get my own cake. And I’ll fucking own it. I’ll lock myself in my room and eat it by myself and give no one the satisfaction of savoring it, with their eyes or with their tongues. Hell I won’t even let them smell it, though refrigerated cakes don’t smell like much at all.
The man who nursed his pain away,
With nothing more than silenced breaths,
He lived a life of modesty, in spite of his decay.
It crept up and clenched his hand
To say it’s time to go,
And he looked up with his ashen face
To let Death know he knows.
Far beyond the heavens’ reach
Where insects, secrets and rainwater seep,
He lies beneath the mounded soil, the roses
At his feet.
The illustrious joy of waking at dawn
Realizing the world
Attempts at harvesting
Of my persona.
Enough that animals
Upon me was not of concern,
I might learn
That my mismatched socks
Were not grinning back at me.
The beige marble
Reflected the light
Of a thousand suns,
It seemed so bright,
Enough to sprout plants
By the millions, a figure
I could not decipher.
In a room of ten, there were maybe
Fifteen, the smells of pine,
Cinnamon and cayenne.
I began to recite
Of my heart,
All the rhymes I knew
Before I did restart,
My father beaming proudly,
Amused with my shenanigans.
Approval is something I needed not,
I praised myself,
Even when I forgot
The lines to the rhyme,
Making up my versions
That did not yet exist.
Blue railings of the stairs
Instilled the roots of a desire
Made me squeeze
between the gaps, a silly impulse
For an adult perhaps, but yet I was a child.
A loving voice
the hold I had on the blue,
And so I let go, only to
Into the arms of my uncle,
Creased his stubbled face into the manicured smile I so adore.
He took me to his chariot,
Though in truth
It was a car, but little children have imaginations
That no one else can mar.
My vitality decreased with time,
My spirits did grow dim,
The sprig who
Thought he was thinking big,
But yet it was a nothing more
Than an insignificant idea,
And when I, a boy
With curly locks, I tumbled
Back to bed,
My mother sang a melody
To help me get some sleep,
The words to the song
They faded away
Though those memories aren’t so bleak.