Still Life with iPhone
A cabinet of curiosities lined with mirrors,
my arm enters, my hand grasps a rattle
that was laid next to a pewter fire witch,
crooked hat, eyes wide, hands up,
before dust encased the objects
and spiders made their home.
My finger plucks a web, soundless,
signaling food to a creature long gone.
Other spiders will settle and rebuild.
I knock against a snow globe, with house,
trees, goats, a scene from an under-paid
designer’s imagination. The snow settles.
From my pocket, I pull a long-broken iPhone,
her name in the dead contacts. I place it near
the now rusted kerosene lantern that she lit
to find me during the blackout, wind groaning
through newly broken windows. She found me
in the basement, soaked, slow, bailing water,
saying we must abandon,
take what we can carry,
go inland, start again.
but she said that you said
that he said that you
are not a person anyone
can trust to keep a secret
but that was a strange post
so I responded to
your insipid thoughts
but they both said
it was not my business
even if I have expertise
dealing with arrogant fools
but you know that I know
that you in fact don’t know
about the other thing
but you won’t ever admit it
It’s time to go home, think of home,
what is the way home, why are we not home,
we live among strangers, there’s no one home,
home is inside your front door a long time ago.
but home is what feels like home, soup
steaming on the stove, lasagna in the oven,
home struggles to surface, it doesn’t match
our surroundings, none of the winds
blow towards home, but think hard,
take it from different angles, and determine
that for our son, home is now and here,
and that is the best we can do.
Baghdad Bob (an erasure)
– The press secretary of Saddam Hussein, April 7th, 2003
There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!
They tried to bring a small number of tanks and personnel carriers in through al-Durah but they were surrounded and most of their infidels had their throats cut. “We made them drink poison last night and Saddam Hussein’s soldiers and his great forces gave the Americans a lesson which will not be forgotten by history. Truly.
On this occasion, I am not going to mention the number of the infidels who were killed and the number of destroyed vehicles. The operation continues.
I can say, and I am responsible for what I am saying, that they have started to commit suicide under the walls of Baghdad. We will encourage them to commit more suicides quickly.
We defeated them yesterday. God willing, I will provide you with more information. I swear by God, I swear by God, those who are staying in Washington and London have thrown these mercenaries in a crematorium.
As President Saddam Hussein said: God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Iraqis.
This is an Arab expression, because the killing which they witnessed yesterday will be a lesson to these mercenaries and to the war criminals in Washington and London.
Their infidels are committing suicide in their hundreds under the walls of Baghdad. The battle was fierce and God granted his soldiers victory. He granted heroic Iraqis victory. The battle is continuing on the main fronts.
Be reassured, Baghdad is safe, fortified and great.
The inhabitants of Baghdad are heroes. They told you that there was fighting at al-Rashid Hotel and the Information Ministry.
I have heard an al-Jazeera correspondent as if it was confirming that.
It is unfortunate. I was at the Information Ministry. I went to the al-Rashid Hotel. I salute the soldiers and I salute the Baathists, the heroes. I salute the citizens who came out of their homes with rifles.
Please, please! The Americans are relying on what I called yesterday a desperate and stupid method.
Just look carefully, I only want you to look carefully. Do not repeat the lies of liars. Do not become like them. Once again, I blame al-Jazeera before it ascertains what takes place. Please, make sure of what you say and do not play such a role.
Search for the truth. I tell you things and I always ask you to verify what I say. I told you yesterday that there as an attack and a retreat at Saddam’s airport.
What have the desperate Americans done? They said that their soldiers have occupied the airport since the beginning of the attack.
They had their forces at the VIP lounge just to say that leader Saddam Hussein used to frequent this place. See how petty and lowly these Americans are?
They transformed the issue into an issue of whether Saddam Hussein, this great leader, uses this building or not. Does he use this bed or not?
I believe these servile people deserve contempt only. This is an ongoing war. They attack a country and a people. They have become involved with a brave and fighting people and a strong and ironclad national regime.
In order to deceive you and deceive me – they believe they can do so – they went to the VIP lounge to divert attention from their villains who were slaughtered on the ground.
They speak about buildings and walls instead of a VIP lounge. Instead of showing the tragedy of their soldiers, they speak about a lounge – does a lounge represent the dignity of a people?
Are these the Americans? People remain silent and placate the Americans. By God, they only deserve scorn. We slaughtered them yesterday and we will continue to slaughter them.
Therefore, please rest assured. We caused you some inconvenience because from this place we destroyed this little number of armoured vehicles and tanks, which came from al-Durah.
– published in Arc Poetry Magazine, 2015
Without ID, there is no existence.
Without ID, there is no ‘be’ in a be sea. A sea without be is an empty vastness. A map of a beless sea is a measurement without dimension, an arrow without direction.
A number without value.
‘Nothing’ cannot be conceived— nothing is not born from nothing, nothing cannot be born from anything. The opposite of a vacuum with no dimensions is infinitely filled indeterminateness, which is not the same as a vacuum, but is no different. Divide by zero to prove 1=2.
A synonym for belessness is .
A person without ID is as invisible as a paper match’s smoke in a strong wind. People look through, look past. Who? The question cannot be answered. Can you distinguish one ant from another? One mathematical point? Something less than that? How many irrational numbers exist between zero and one? What is the difference in value between two neighboring irrational numbers? Two neighboring transcendental numbers?
Without ID, people are uncountable.
Without ID, there is no I, and there is no way to identify the body from dental records.
For those who cannot be identified, there is no origin, so there cannot be a destination or movement. No licenses, no work, no taxes to be paid.
ID is the key to society’s lock. ID opens eyes, allows recognition, and provides a path to somewhere. ID is how we know where on the map we are and where everyone else is.
Drop ID onto a person, and everyone else thinks they know who they are. The mask can be seen in a mirror, so it ‘exists’. They also know where they are— the Northeast side of Southwest Centerville, five miles up the road past the Jones cabin that burned down last year, by the old Bennett farm where Sam built the cheap condos.
If you leave your ID at home, you can slip through the world unnoticed, be a person of no account. Move between the masks, above the grid, and slide right in— a vampire of no reflection, who takes without giving, endlessly existing between the rhythmic beats of reality’s subtle drummer.
A mask is art, or artifice, or artificial.
A poet writes his story, his name is Forty, he sings of glory, but as he runs out of time, his mask falls away so he can no longer say the poet’s play; only empty pain remains as his life-stained mask slides down the drain.
Have a party to burn your diary; toast the loss of your past, and then go to the mall to lease three new masks. What is in style today? How much do you have to pay?
Hide your masks. Use them when nothing is not enough, when something is better than something else, or when anything will do.
Each day, wear one or all of your masks, or put me away; choose to be, or .
Follow Directions Carefully
If at home, boil water, open box, add strawberry Jell-O packet.
Stir. Blend fruit, pour into mold, set into refrigerator overnight.
Take out, place upside down on a plate, release. Watch it jiggle.
Slice. Observe reflections of kitchen lights. Poke to jiggle more.
Add whipped cream when not concerned about calories. Serve.
When at a restaurant, spoon from the salad bar with cottage cheese.
If in a hospital, force yourself to eat it. They say it’s good for you.
If at a dive bar, consume as Jell-O shots, which mask the alcohol,
possibly causing tunnel vision and unplanned sexual liaisons.
Mix well. Beware the jiggle. Avoid whipped cream.