Friday, April 15, 2011

National Poetry Month - Cheyenne Nimes

From our Fall/Winter 2008-2009 issue, our third NaPoMo featured poem, by Cheyenne Nimes.

Learning Arabic.

ANY WATER IS good, but fresh is better. At the edge of
seas. The far sea. Taller palm trees than you've ever
seen. The High Priestesses. Intermediary between
physical and spiritual realms. Cross the bridge
between life and death at will. Read Arabic right o
left with the sun's direction. Action and sense words.
Dust: al-atriba. This is my first sandstorm. Is the
doctor coming now, or later? Don't extract it please.
Entertainments and spectacles. Wavelengths from red
to violet. Straw hat with a plastic palm tree growing out
the top. Sways to white sand in name only. Crying
wolf. Iraqi phrase book. My mouth's on fire: hunaa.
Sorry, we broke one of them. Let's leave here:
li-natruk. Map oasis marked by 2 palms; 4 fronds each.
Cease-fire line. Oil pipe line. Salt-flat. We didn't
know it was forbidden. Yes, there was a lot of blood.
This is a feast! Is the guide actually reading the
hieroglyphics? "Media Arabic." Conflicting news
stories then deny it in the next. Espionage and
intelligence. Pajama Party. Tongues. The words are the
same. The scorpion bit him right there. Help me get
this tar off my feet. We must take you with us for
questioning. Very old towns. How all ancient things
that never change have their own crossing. Come here,
I'll teach you some manners! We've had enough history
for now. In which direction shall I head now? There's
an arrow on the ceiling pointing to Makkah. In the
position to call for rats handed down from skies.
What time do we arrive? Do we have to cross the river?
Burns, dehydration, sunstroke. To burn: To explode:
Read in the original language only. State Department.
When the world no longer takes the American dollar.
Our car is stuck in the sand over there. Take your
hands off. Stop following me or I'll scream. To put on
red alert. In a state of readiness for. Do you know
what you're saying? Maybe you should know something
about me. Oldest empires in the world. Check-Point.
Original city gates. And wallet snapshots. Expressions
of feeling. Ham it up. We have to move her to the
shade. Why did you push me? Explain to me why. The
particular ways to end one phrase to go into another.
Prayer and realize it. Shall we meet now? Whether some
think they have come too far, or not far enough.
Silent night, holy night. All is well, all is --.
Mispronounce. Look the other way for a second. The
dark and a headlight skidding through. Silver gleaming
sadness. Just dust flat against the windshield. Black
marks against the windshield. Past tense masculine
singular. To throw light on. That's sickening. Do you know
that? Returns light back to the light source. Homecoming.
So, we meet again!

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