Sunday, December 18, 2005

'Tis the Season

For a while now
I haven't written a thing
I've been dry
Like my mouth in the morning
Perched open for seven hours
With a NightGuard while asleep.
I've been dry
Like the latter part of winter
When the Holidays are no more
Than a hangover and a credit card bill
And the New Year's resolutions
Have already begun to dissolve.

It was my birthday recently
Blissfully ignored by most of humanity
And systematically forgotten by
Even more people than the year before.
And yet I managed to get
Enough gifts I don't need,
Enough books I'll never read,
And blank pages I'll never fill
To make me thankful that I weren't
Any more memorable still.
All I can say is
Thank god for Borders' no-gift-receipt
Return policy.

And so, that's where I headed
To scratch off some items from my Wish List,
A list that seems to function more as a
I got me a couple of books
So stale and overdue
They were already covered with dust.
I stacked them by my bed
To ward off the evil spirits
Brewing inside my head,
Hoping that in my sleep
I would somehow
Osmotically absorb them.

See, in my spree, I go for those titles
That seem to be just as ignored as I am
(Except, of course, that they're not).
I place Special Orders for them
And then never buy them
Just as a Holiday Gift
To the poor authors I'll never become.

I feel sorry for myself this time of year
(More so that I do the rest of the year),
I feel homesick and cook
Wax ornaments of family pictures and songs
That I proceed to ridicule
Before somebody else does.

I know I am petty
And most of my poems begin with me
And end with me
And don't waver much in between;
I know I am jealous of a cat
And... Well, I'll spare myself the rest.
And I know this is the part where
The Poet imparts her Big Revelation,
Her rancid Pearl of Wisdom;
But I have none.
I am lazy,
And have Christmas Shopping to do still
And I don't even have a smart way to end this.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Cuts from the Inside

My friend, Nadine Khoury, has recently released her new album, Cuts from the Inside. It has been called "generous, thoughtful, and honorable". You can listen to samples from it, read reviews, and order your own copy either on the on her website, , or on

Sunday, November 20, 2005


You flayed me open
And hung up.

Talking to you left me
With an alkaline aftertaste.
For days I had been thinking
How my capacity for joy
Comes from you,
How when I laugh
Your throttle bounces
Off the walls of the room
And sinks in me,
How I jab at life
With your jokes,
And how my voice echoes
With your cough.

But just as you bestow the sun
You absorb the sea.

You refuse to hear my laughter
If it doesn't ring in your fields;
You only see a mouth open wide, a yawn,
A hole muted in anticipation.
Your skin doesn't shiver from its chuckles.
You suspend me, you know,
An orphan in a cold cloud.

But I will paint you
My absence in pink and green;
I will hold the moon
Fixed in the sky
For you to see my shadow.
I will pull my veils
Colored and wilting
Across your brow
Until you smell the heat,
The fresh laundry and the snow,
The leaves staining the windshield
And smoothing under our feet.
I will hold you until you miss
Yourself like I do you
And then rest your case in mine
And your head in my lap
That I can braid your thoughts again.

Monday, November 07, 2005

When You’re Gone

To Wojtek 

And now you’re gone.
After I’d gnashed my teeth at you
After I’d snarled and flipped my inside out
After I’d cursed you in every tongue and slant
And hissed like a viper sloughing its shame
I lie tame as a mothball
Rolled in your clothes
Vacant as the streets on a Sunday night
I lie here on your side of the bed
Barely filling your dent
And pretending that the heat
Is the hair on your arms

After I’d spewed hatred in your face
With the aftertaste of bile
After I’d peeled the ceiling
With the pungency of my breath
After I’d promised you I’d never write
Another melodramatic rant
When you’re across the street
I lie here in your spot
Replaying your voice
Cranky and digitized
To fill the quiet of the hour
I turn the clocks on their faces
I flip off all the lights
And I shrink the rooms to my size

I had tried to empty the fridge
Of yesterday’s trash
But even my blind hunger had failed me
I wish I can pop a happy thought
To get me through my sleep
But tomorrow weighs on my teeth
And grinds them to dull nubs
I wish I can, like the cat
Reach between my ears
And lick the lint that
Has grown in the trap
I wish I can
Go back to yesterday
When I was biting your head off
Just to grow you another

The Reading

Thanks for everyone who came to the reading!

Here is a list (with links) of what I read (with edits):
  1. The Coming
  2. I Write
  3. Unravelled (Life)
  4. Tired
  5. Life on a Beautiful Day
  6. Here
  7. Ghosts
  8. Eclipse
  9. Revelations
  10. Piece of Damascus
  11. A Nation Amputated
  12. Exit
  13. Remnant of You
  14. Tragedy
  15. Tomorrow
  16. Anymore
  17. Some Day

Friday, October 28, 2005

Emerging Writers Series

Hello all,

I will be reading at the Book Corner next Saturday, November 5th at 4pm. I hope to see you there!

Hear Philadelphia's sharpest new voices reading from their latest work, this month featuring Arlene Bernstein, Alexandria Levin and Ashraf Osman.

Emerging Writers Series
Saturday, November 5th at 4pm
The Book Corner
Friends of the Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Easy Corpses

Why do some people Make
easy to imagine corpses?
Is it the skin Stretched
by age thin and dry
over the knuckles?
Or is it the breath Threatening
to expire Before
the next pause?
Or the hair Whispering
lightly Like an empty frame?
Or just the eyes Looking
endlessly Beyond
the wall Beyond
the night Beyond
the closed eyelids.

(To my boss, on National Boss Day.)

Monday, October 10, 2005

On the Stage

In the darkness we are all alone.
Turn off the light;
I am tired of tentative company.

Under the ochre glow
Their shadows are heightened
Along the patterned wood of the stage.
Their glances weave a trance
Off the slither of the music.
Comfortable awkwardness
Beams in their eyes,
And in the spill of the stand I lurk,
Lost in the spotlight.

In the silence we are all alone.
Stretch my skin
Taught and resonant
That I may fill the dark
With my noise.

In their tapping I let my poisons thaw;
In their sways I found my jealousy.
In their smiles I abandoned my family
To a stream of applause,
To a nod, a clap across the face.
In their smiles I could pretend
That life doesn't crush me
Under my weight.
In their smiles, for a while,
I found solace in the dark.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Ten Years

To Obe
Ten years is what it takes
For us to turn into weed;
Ten years is what it takes
For the white roses to shed,
For an oud to rot and a flute rust.
Ten years is what it takes
For the humid nights to yawn
And collapse on the sidewalk in hazy slumber;
Ten years for all the winding stairs
to lose their stones,
For the spruce to grow dusty,
And for bright eyes to tire of the light.

Ten years, and we're no longer there.

The curve of the road,
The cliff and how it hangs,
The cypress that lined the broken pavement
And swayed like they could read our minds;

Your room still fragrant
with fragments of my breath
plastering its innards
like dank wallpaper
held by song;

And the worn leather couch
Where I first believed in God
Still dimples under my ghost.

Ten years is what it takes
For the waves to take root on my shore,
Ten years for the promise to let go;
Ten years to return
To the first syllable,
The fuzzy hair, the freckled cheek,
The shoes flayed at the outset.

And somewhere in the hallways
Ten years before
A boy peers from around the corner
And goes...

© Copyright 2005 Obeida Sidani

Friday, August 05, 2005

Go Ahead

To Roland

Go ahead
Suck the air
And leave me nothing To breathe.

Go ahead
Take it all back
And dunk it in the sea--
Fish need magic, too.

Go ahead
Tear it apart
And stuff it Into the sky
Until it drapes, Like shards of us,
Over the clouds.

Go ahead,
For a hand can never break
Its own fingers.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I open the windows, Heat spilling bright onto jaded floors, A tree swaying with warmth, And air burning the nose with freshness. I open the windows, I hear life spilling in Over thresholds and terrazzo, And yellow glow. A cage of thin black wire Missing its bird, Cards spread on a chaffing table With the chaos of fate. A scream, a chuckle, A wrinkled grin, And graying hair Brimming with age. An old stone bench awaits them, A feeling so new it tingles. All spread beyond, like hope Of another life, another tomorrow, Another place.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Homeward bound

Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me...
I’m sittin’ in the railway station
Got a ticket for my destination
On a tour of one night stands
My suitcase and guitar in hand
And every stop is neatly planned
For a poet and a one man band

Homeward bound...

Everyday’s an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines
And each town looks the same to me
The movies and the factories
And every stranger’s face I see
Reminds me that I long to be

Homeward bound...

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again
I’ll play the game and pretend
But all my words come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me

Homeward bound...

Monday, June 27, 2005


To Obe

Every few years,
Like an eclipse,
I see you once.
And every time,
Just like the moon,
You sink in me.


I blur the edges of your name
And watch her fake a smile,
And with my anger, proceed to bury them all.
The vastness of the hall, the resonance of empty chairs,
The grimace just before her voice breaks,
And in the hollow of her black you peek,
A punctured soul billowing in the light.


You come and load me with the guilt of the jasmine
And leave like an empty street with no name.


Flattened I sat in front of you
Picking my slivers from between your teeth,
Putting out the fire for the last time
Before you leave.

Flattened I sat against the sky
Scraping my smile off smeared walls,
Piecing it for you, upside down.

Flattened I faded before your eyes
A hundred years in one,
And in every year I invented myself,
Again, just for your pride.

Flattened, from beneath the table,
I looked up at you soaring above your skin
Claiming the stars like you just spat them;
And I wondered why, while crunching the moon,
You sounded like an angel choking
On broken glass?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Answer / Life

The answer is not the answer;
The answer is losing track of the question.

How can you reduce Life to such banalities?
I am not reducing Life; I am calling it by its name.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


To Wojtek

Scorching your face
Spilling off the edges of a fig leaf
As it shimmers into the muddy river--
Cordoba in your eyes.
Life promising more than it can give:
The cobblestones of Florence,
The stench of Venice,
And us.
Our laughter smelled of oranges rotting in the dank night,
The glowing edges of your naked figure on the balcony,
And my smile--solitary, quivering, and wide.
Feed my dreams on your runaway soul,
Give me no rest--rest is for the departed.
I will drink in, if the glass is empty I'll fill it
With the corners of my hope,
Dusty and scarce.
I will follow, for I have no home
But the sunshine.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Second Prize!

Thanks for those who gave me their feedback below. I am happy to let you know that I won second prize at the Philadelphia Reading Series Open Poetry Competition! (Hurray!) I ended up reading You Lie and Unsinkable. I have also submitted Comfortably Numb and Piece of Damascus (this one for you, Ahmad) to the contest. Let's see what'll come of it...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Philadelphia Palestine Film Festival

I just found out about this today! You can still catch the last remaining few days. Here is the website:
Mai Masri, the director of Frontiers of Dreams and Fears, is going to be at its screening on Saturday May 21 at the International House at 7:00 p.m. She'll also be conducting a Master Class, titled Storytelling Over Time and Borders, the same day at 2:00 p.m. at the Scribe Video Center.
Also at the International House on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. is a series of shorts, including the provocative Diary of a Male Whore. And on Sunday May 22, Rana's Wedding is playing at 7:00 p.m. (same venue).
There's much more than this playing this weekend; check the website above for more details!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Now's the time to get opinionated!

Okay, tutti! I need your feedback again. I had asked you earlier (<--this is a link!) to help me pick poems for a submission; now I need your help to pick one for a competition. The competition is this coming Saturday (May 21), and there's even more material now to pick from. (There's more material to pick from than appears under the "Previous Posts" section to the right; the "Archives", below that, hold material all the way from November 2002. And if you click on any older post, even older material apprears, as if by magic, under "Previous Posts"!) I certainly do not expect anyone to go through it all; one way to sift it is perhaps to go to the results of "Round 1" (<--this is also a link!) which has links to each of the older "candidates". But I do hope, no matter how you do it, that you take the time and share your opinion. So, go ahead, dig in, and let me know what you think, either by leaving a comment, or by writing me an e-mail at . And many thanks in advance!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

You lie

(To my grandmother, on the third anniversary of her death)

Like a ceiling fan coming to a halt
Warmth dissipates from me;
The creeping anniversary sticks in my mouth
Like pine glue on Christmas ornaments.
I bring my fingertips to my nose
And inhale the stale smell of winter;
I want to write her, but all my boxes are hidden
Under stacks of paper towels and cherry jam.
A smile slowly comes into focus:
“This was the last picture of her.”
It hangs on the wall, bleeding softly under my day
Into a reminiscence of oily eggplant and talcum powder.
A fingernail scratches my back, and then another,
Until the dead skin is peeling off like lazy days in the heat.
“She’s still there,” you said. But you lie,
You lie because there is no comfort in a song;
Because her shoulders, when we were crammed in the back,
Smelled of mountains, and honey, and old flesh.
You lie because you remember the cluck of her tongue
Smoothing away the night.
Like the day isn’t coming,
And dawn is only a joke.

Saturday, April 30, 2005


To Obe

In two different orbits we circle now
Planets tethered to separate suns

In another dimension I float, I breathe
I speak where you cannot hear

We cross the earth telling the rest of the story
We intertwine like unraveling schemes

I glimpse the round of your head from a distance
From memory, scratchy and blue

I see you where you ought to be
In the absence I make you on the corner, on the street

But in another street you dwell now
One with an unfamiliar smell

The syncopated silences between us grow
Until nothing is left but retorts so delayed

They are rendered obsolete
A handle, an encoded song

Is all the dust that remains
From the burst stars we became

© Copyright 2010 Obeida Sidani

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

And you wonder why?

Do You Live in a Down Town? // Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (© Bill Ross/Corbis)
According to an article in MSN Health & Fitness - "Is Your Town Down?", "Philadelphia has earned the melancholy distinction of being America's most depressed city"! No wonder I am, too!

Thursday, April 21, 2005


To Roland

We are absorbed
like stars consumed by the sky.
Sand under your feet,
it smelled of youth
and before
of fear,
of an embrace in frantic streets
where people were running for cover
and you covered my ears.
Sulphuric was the smell of my childhood.

A vacant stadium,
a wall of bags,
a storm spun of running,
and stars we were.
When the roads unfolded
we deflowered the city
one corner at a time.
You held my hand and told me,
“This is the city of my grandfather,”
and I inhaled it so I won’t forget.
You lit the church in candles
and walked the line of an old song,
a hokey dream you wrote on sand
and then watched retraced.
The tree where we once stood
twisted in the heat of abandon;
the rooftops drizzled that humid night
and shed, like an old hairdo,
the folds of what we were
and were to be.

I stand here and hold you
in a crumpled box upstairs,
remnants of glitter under your eyes,
pieces of the sun stuck under our nails
like splinters of the cross.
Is my hair clogging the drain
when you shed at night?
Is my smell still stuck under your skin?
Is the beginning of it all suddenly tasting
like the end of days
when all was one
and bubbles spewed forth from our eyes?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


The void threatens from the edges--
“For you are childless,” she said
“You are godless,” she said--
And I fill it, like a stuffed crocus
--She said—
Spill the scribbles on its blankness
Like sidewalks in the rain
Hold it, your breath
For Jupiter will never make it to Galileo
And yet he yearns
That point of suspension will return
And so will he, so will he
Look it’s coming to an end.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Essential parametric moments

“An essential parametric moment”

“You used to smile more,” she said.
“Yes, I did.”


“I witness”

I watch from a distance
The surge of red and white on the streets
A flood of sweat and song
And rekindled hope
--cruel hope!—
And echoes of billowing sails
And a bearded youth


“She was a good woman”

She’s gone
A cold slab in a sea of stone
A lonely bed in a desolate park
Gone is the collar of her dress
The color of her wrinkles
And the smell of her smile
That I loved to sink in


“What is the nature of that sill?”
“That is snow.”

Tell her I’m yellow
I am drowned in the
Guck of life
And life is a--

Sunday, March 06, 2005


"There are things you lose you do not get back. You cannot have them, ever again, except in the smudging carbon copy of memory. There are things that seem irreconcilable that you must find a way to reconcile with. The simple passage of days dulls the sharpness of pain, but it never wears it out: what gets washed away in time gets washed away, and then you are left with a hard cold nub of something, an unlosable souvenir.A little china dachshund from the White Mountains. A shadow puppet from Bali. Look--an ivory shoehorn from a four-star hotel in Zurich. And here, like a stone I carry everywhere, is a bit of someone's heart I have saved from a journey I once made."

Peter Cameron, "The Weekend"

Monday, January 31, 2005


(I watch life through a screen,
Pretending that it was mine.
Tell me, how do you pity
Yourself without drooling?)

A still, a perfect calm
Dusty wooden floors
And melting snow
A day that isn’t happening
Just gone by
He pauses on the phone
And in the silence I hear
A sniffle sucked in
Until it has dripped, like mucus,
At the back of his throat
“It began with the two of us
And it will end that way”
I just didn’t think
It would be so soon

Brush the lint off your breath
And try to look somewhere
But everywhere you turn
It is the last day of summer
I dropped a street, a city, a country
On my way to bliss
But bliss had no address
Why don’t you feather
Those darling tunes of yours
And whistle them by my side
For I have forgotten the taste of bread
And tea and sugar in the morning
Just dream, a little bit more,
And think that it didn’t happen
That it doesn’t happen, and will not happen
Just dream that the night pulled back
And the balcony is rife
With basil blossoms
And hands still brush
Over their sweet sunshine

Sunday, January 02, 2005


Another Sunday squirms by.
An ongoing march of inevitability
To another Monday I don’t care for.
I dodge more phone calls to people I don’t care about.
I am to construct something out of my banality;
Here it is.
It took another’s poetry
To cure me of mine.
Envision a cube, a horizon,
A camel bleeding to death,
A bunch of nonsense.
I indulge in my indolence;
I am shackled by it.
The cat doesn’t even care for me;
He is just sitting there because
He is too lazy to move.
A slow movie runs by,
A great ending I will never make,
“Don’t thank me
You’re doing all the work.”
A bus to nowhere,
A poem I will not finish.