Saturday, January 19, 2013

Looking In

Nothing much changes when you’re back:
dishes still need to be done,
animals fed;
only there’s less room in the bed.
I won’t say it’s lonelier with you than it is without you,
but it is far less convenient.

Scenes of domesticity gone stale:
your constant complaining of dust,
the dog turning her back and looking longingly out,
and my silence.
Rescue what you can!

I am starting to weigh my 30 years,
piling others’ lives across the scale,
making sure I’m always on the losing end.
So what if it comes to this?

Forgive me if I don’t see you as the victory you might be,
but your smile doesn’t count if it’s not for me.
Besides, I’m too busy looking in.

(Originally posted on March 24, 2007)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Joe Bolton: The Last Nostalgia


How could we think that it would never end?
While each day was a little eternity,
We must have known the leaves were getting ready
To turn and fall-then loneliness again,
The chill, exquisite longings of autumn.
You woke to find it had become September;
I woke a little later to find you gone.
And suddenly what I would remember
Was wholly formed, irrecoverable:
The hundred-degree heat and the trouble
We had trying to keep cool in our shorts
Till the sun went down-me on the back porch,
Sipping Scotch and listening to Sinatra;
You in the bedroom, reading the Kama Sutra.

The Years

And yet we'd do it all over again—
The success, the excess, and how desire
Got all mixed up with money, sex, the moon,
Till our house lit up like a house on fire.
Maybe it's the intensity we miss,
Those sleek maneuverings at night, when style
Seemed an end in itself, and which it was,
As things turned out. Tonight, in the dead still
Of the night, I lift a glass of amber
To all that's left, which is less than nothing,
Which is to say all I can remember
Of that feeling, that memory of a feeling.
Strange to want back what we wanted back then.
We were as good as dead, or better than.

Two Songs of Solitude and Lament


There’s nothing to celebrate this evening.
I’ve come home tired
To a mailbox gorged with junk it can’t
Digest, to a room bereft
Of any hope of getting put into order,
To a radio gone numb
With humming the old tunes and passing along
The old gossip: a breakthrough,
A disaster, the economy’s rise or fall, a war
Going on somewhere.

No one will come by, no one will call,
No ex-friend or –lover
Materialize from my wired-out memory.
Boredom is dangerous:
It gets easier with practice. The streetlights,
As if in celebration
Of nothing, erupt the off-shade of cheap champagne,
While in the bedroom
The clock I can never think to wind
Ticks down like a bomb.


Dozing to the tugging drone of fans
These summer afternoons,
The haunt of memory surrounds and inhabits me
Like a siege on some ruined city.
Runners of sunlight manage to twist their way
Through a full-leafed maple,
And the shadow-splotched walls of this room are suddenly
The blush of blood
Across the skin above your breasts
When you came.
Or it rains, and everything the rain streams down
Remembers your hair.
We were in each other’s arms then, but now
We are in the arms of the wind.
The proud ancient warriors, in hopeless bondage,
Would kill themselves
By biting their tongues in two, so as to bleed to death.
I wake in the dark
And walk out onto the balcony to watch the stars
That won’t touch down on the rooftops.

Days of Summer Gone

It’s too late to go back to that apartment
In Bowling Green, Kentucky, where we slept together
So many nights. I wonder if whoever lives there now
And fucks in that bed ever wonders about us?

If memory’s any good gauge, the place
Must be ghosted with us even now—
Where I read aloud to you the love stories
Of other languages, and where there was no part
Of your body my tongue couldn’t locate in the dark.
Don’t try to tell me you’ve forgotten.

I can’t let them go, those days
Of summer gone, for under my eyelids you move
As you moved through the changes of light in that room.

But it’s raining tonight
In Houston, Texas, and how is your weather
In Berkley? What happened to us?
Westward is the world’s motion, and time’s,
If not memory’s.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"August Elegy"

You write that you are tired,
That even language has failed you,
That each sentence doubts itself halfway through.
I start to type, "This rage
For order..." but run out of words,
And the letters fall to pieces on the page.

Monday arrives wordless,
Sun-struck, August wind in the chimes
As birds flit past, elusive as their names.
Last week a black guy bigger
Than me, and much to my surprise,
Pronounced me to be an "artificial nigger."

Otherwise, there's no sound
Of anyone else's voice for days
On end, save yours through the splice and fray
Long distance. I watch, I
Wait for the mail to come around,
Then stand there disappointed under the sky.

This living alone is
Endless language left unmeasured,
And the slow coming of sleep a pleasure
Sadder than being young.
I wake to speak, and the word was
Breaks sweeter than any berry on my tongue.

-Joe Bolton, from "The Last Nostalgia"

(Originally posted on December 03, 2009)

Thursday, January 03, 2013

images and images

A visual stroll through the role of women in Egypt and beyond, in Arabic & English. (I did the Arabic typesetting.)