30 November 2006

Cardboard City

I wrote this poem circa 1995, but it is so befitting now, don't you think??

Like the poem posted just before it (Wail From my Exile,) Cardboard City was written from the perspective of an expat who suffers from separation from and longing for the homeland.

But I re-dedicate it here to the people of Lebanon, all: the innocent bystander, the partisan duelist in the street, the greedy, exploitative politician/warlord, the news junkie, and the occasional artist who tries to meander through all the confusion to find a morsel of truth.



For years I sprinted to find the other wall in the
.....infiniteness of my confinement
In its darkness I did not sense the shadows that
.....persisted to surround me
Like groves of trees

Those were the standing shoulders of my ancients,
Once wandering desert Bedouins

For years I sprinted to fall on the other wall
In the infiniteness of my confinement


I stood in your eyes, fields of lilacs
Their flesh wall permeable like dark gates into caves
I’ve Journeyed to their other side since a time

Since a time unremembered,
The skull of head had been open from above,
Vulnerable, to the wind and to your voice

Its delicateness caused pepper tears to swell in me
.....and descend,
Spilling as the stars of a solemn night,
Smelling like the sweet scratchings of green walnut

My arms pulled down, embedded into the asphalt of
.....my confinement,
Their branching roots stretching under
To follow my running like a trail of connected regret


It is all I know
This it is, my city from whom I scream,
My city wherein I run
Her grey walls taste of bitter history like my tongue

I breathe within me jasmine breaths
Chants that hover to her breast
She hears then, my objections, but proceeds to
.....scratch me then lick me face to foot

These are the shrieks of a runaway slave
Whose hair is the traintracks on which the wretched
Whose heart is the simple orange they peel
Whose fingers of dirt they suckle
For fragments of taste in their lives

I’ve slept in the belly of the gorge of the city
My lashes are her forests of grey weary men
My raw hide is her asphalt, stretched out like a dead field
My eyes shatter their brown,
In the dispersing of moths to her street lamps

In the pulp of their hour,
Brothers spear for each other’s faces
With identical battle cries


These nights, I am a kingdom of charred plastic children
That lay in the streets disregarded

These nights, I abandon for you my words,
Juicy red petals,
In the rubble of puddles

These nights,
My heart is untame in my breast, lusting to learn love
My fear is for my poor heart,
That it may grow rusty grass on its side,
If left neglected
That my heart’s fingers are left to decay,
To flake like demolitions

I have never ignored the faint shrills of the dead in the
Them I do not comprehend
Listen only for the blue and green in their music

In my meaningless strolls these nights,
The heavy Earth feels painful when I step on her
Soil and stone ruins collapse onto each other in her
.....circular motion
In a perpetual longing for the surface of a lonely moon

These nights,
I no longer know the taste of hope
Souls burn with a lust for sorrow

Tragic is my fleeing that runs to die in the beautiful Earth
Under lightning dagger stabs that permit no rest

Love becomes a slowly learned betrayal


Mere assassinings, Your simple drizzles
My love left squandered,
Weeping blood into mud

The thirsty cardboard of our lungs,
Scraping between the distant exhaustion of us both

Longing in the prolonged sorrows that are born in these
Longing for the voice that persuades away the tension of
.....clasped hands
Longing for the eyes that widen to gaze at the lover

Who shall command my own eyes
Who shall pluck the lilies of my teeth beneath the
.....watchful moon

When all other Earths have failed me,
I plant my shadows between the evening rocks and your
.....sad freckles
I sleep in the lost capacity of your skin

Copyright © IbnBintJbeil 1995

26 November 2006

Wail from My Exile

(I originally posted this poem on this blog during the 33 day war this past July.)

I wrote this poem circa 1992-93.
- -
It was during a poetry renaissance that swept over Detroit, before it swept over the country. We attended and breathed our writings into many poetry readings that enflamed neighborhoods, colleges,
coffee houses, and streets.
It was a time of excitement, discovery and youthful vigor.
- -
It was after the first Gulf War, and after the winding down of the Lebanese civil war and the first Intifada, and after the signing of the Oslo Accord and subsequent "harwala" by Arab regimes (as Nizar Qabani puts it.)
It was a time of heartbreak & disappointment, of anxiety & expectation of an unknown.

- -

Wail from My Exile


Arabia Drunk
Abandoned me, a child,
At the cavemouth of doubt

When I was nine I hovered
On severed wings, with the sparrows
Above the warm rooftops of Beirut
Until my father’s fears went with us
Atop the safe wings of a silver bird
Down to the abyss,
To the severe night that is the Western streets

In the Crevice I slept, between Earth and asphalt –
A fragment of the banished hoards
And the sun became my hope –
A second exile for another delusion

My arms bound by my name in my exile
My legs lay lame
In may exile
The wilderness in me dies tame
In my exile
My journey assassinated midway –
In the cold steel urban labyrinth where I crouch

Now I sit unexpressed on this colossal Turtle Island
Silently it reeks of forgotten native slaughters
The stagnant death swimming to surround me
It maintains on the whitewashed breath of my landlord

I add my tears to an infinite salted sea
To wash a crucified native
And lay him in tattered Muhammedean shrouds on a
.....dusty dark plain

Dropping my senses,
I flee this world of pretensions that exhausted my father
And ate his dreams like a raw, sacrificed child



Hastened was history,
Hastened a future tragedy
Suddenly Arabia committed suicide at the feet of

And I was furiously running in the pit of the Western
Building a formless night, void of name
Laboring a superfluous labor
Laughing at my tasteless coffee

Today I tasted the death of Arabia on the dark morning mist
Today in Jerusalem, Geronimo sank beneath a burning rubble
That he could not resist against
Today, Che surrendered Beirut
Today Malcolm fumbled for a warm breeze through the
.....Cairo alleyways

Today is the drunk Arabian poet’s harvest
Today they crawl back into caves,
Beating their women
Today I pulled out every one of my hairs and felt no pain
Today my soul was carved

Today came too early,
Today Armageddon

Today Palestine was sacrificed
On her own ancient Arab altar
And silently eaten raw, like my father’s dreams


My exile is a wasp, as it stings and dies
I reclaim the bloodied darks of my eyes
My slaughtered name fragments as it cries
OUT, over the vast, scorched Earth:
"The sun shall be my second exile!"

Sun sounds its silence
I search for the Sun at night
Through the ambiguity of abandon
I’m infinitely running towards her,
The dancing Sun of my daze

Sun burns warm circles in our outstretched palms
And we become branded
And the land becomes mapped

Dazed, I swim towards the Sun
On a sea of wasted years and answerless questions

The Sun awaiting me eternally far:
Sitting in a picture frame in the desert
Hiding behind steel trees in my city
She laughs
She mocks me
She cries


Ancient Fathers, innocently sleeping,

The hot, primitive winds of the desert
Still slap against my bony cheek

I often wake in the middle of my
Cold Michigan winter hibernation
And taste on my tongue
The sands of Arabia

My questions swim in her mirage, non-diluting red stains
My soul has been made jagged,
One rock against her endless dunes

Her wind mixes in me to return one day and resound,
Loud as the screech of an angered hawk, searching
In the empty, stolen sky of Arabia


Arabia Drunk
Abandoned me, a child
At the cavemouth of doubt

Forever away,
I nursed from the whiskey milk of her sorrow
Caressed her petals ‘till they toppled one by one,
Nameless dreams of passion,
Red banners waving on the surface of the Sun

The memory of her sound brands its cruelty onto my
.....long past
I gouged out my tired eyes that tasted the bitter dance of
the passing days of men

Where do the forest shadows lose the words I send?
I search under their topples leaves for the fallen wind

I chase myself, longing hollow,
Behind a ghastly Detroit alley wall.

Copyright © IbnBintJbeil 1992/2006


22 November 2006


(click for larger image)

Copyright © IbnBintJbeil 2002

  • What are the underlying causes of the current political strife?
  • Are you able to answer this question without pointing fingers or naming names or referring to specific players?
  • What is the underlying cause of all political strife?

In the graphic compostion above, entitled
YenEuroDollarPound, I attempt to emphasize an important factor in political turmoil, one that has been a deeply ingrained element in the tumultuous history of human society, and one that we sometimes ignore in our fervent emotional reactions to events.

18 November 2006

Finally Settling Down

Sorry that my blog was out of wack for a while. I must've mistakenly erased some code or something. I just got around to fixing it.

Our lives are just beginning to get back to normal. The baby is home and we are settling down. Everything was so chaotic for a while, with Waad being in the hospital for a whole week, but now we're all cozy and snug at home. read all about it on her blog.
Click on her pictures below to go to her blog.

07 November 2006

Another Brick in the Wall

1) Everywhere, People of this World . .
The billions of powerless are forever hopeful and defiant in the face of unending repression and domination that swoops down upon them from the techno-military giants.

Days pass,
innocents are sacrificed,
seawaves lap,
and the wall grows around us.

2) Here in the U.S., today is voting day . .
Ages pass,
kings rage,
sweet breezes plummet like butchered birds,
and our lungs collapse further
into the depths of the wall.

People venture out to vote in these annual and biannual and quadrennial elections, under the hopeful premise that their vote will count as one equal voice among multitudes of voices.

Ever since I became a citizen of the U.S., I've been perpetually torn between taking part in the process of voting, or voting No to a failed and faulty process by not taking part at all.

A supposedly democratic process is far from being such:
  • Both major parties are completely shackled to megacorporations. As far as voting having any real, effective significance, it is more truthful to say that the system provides for "one dollar=one vote" than for "one person=one vote". Money elects candidates, not popular representation.
  • 99% of politicians make promises that attract common, folky people who have a down-to-earth vision of life and its needs and faithfully believe that the system is truly a representative democracy. And regardless of what they may say to the People during a campaign, the politicians then proceed to completely adhere to their respective party's agenda from the moment that their term begins, agendas dominated by perpetuating themselves in power. Actually, these candidates get in line before they get elected, from the moment their campaigns begin.
  • "Progressive" liberals in the U.S. are completely un-progressive, hypocritical and downright bigoted when it comes to the human rights and the right to self-determination of Arabs and Muslims, and Palestinians in particular.
  • "Pro-life/pro-family" conservatives in the U.S. are completely anti-life, anti-family, hypocritical and downright bigoted when it comes to the right-to-life of Arab, Muslim and Third-World populations and families, and Palestinians in particular.
So in the past, I have ignored elections for lack of any convincing motivation; or I have written in my own name or the occasional Ralph Nader or fictional Mahatma Gandhi; or I have gone along with all the commercial hype and voted half-enthusiastically for a local milleage here or against a local extremist proposal there.

What will I do today? I still don't know, and I don't know why I'm so worried about
the prospect of participating just as much as I am worried about the prospect of not voting.