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



Anonymous said...

One of the most powerful poems
I've ever read. "Arabia Drunk
Abandoned me, a child
At the cavemouth of doubt" Many feel abandoned & abused.

Anonymous said...

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

And now we, the abandoned ones, wander blindly - stumbling through life - wondering at it's meaning...
If it has any at all. Holding together the shards of the past, trying desperately not to be forgotten, while looking for someone to give these precious memories to.

laila said...

thank you IBJ..it's beautiful..

Mar said...

Ghastly Detroit Alley wall.
I often wake in the middle of my
Cold Michigan winter hibernation
And taste on my tongue
The sands of Arabia...

I pictured myself on that alley in that cold winter...
I cringe ... I cant think anymore. there's a bitter familiarity to these words coupled with a very strange unwanted nostalgia.
I cannot erase my 8 years of living in Detroit... I dont crave going back and yet it offers a secure home when I lose faith in my homeland. Cant think anymore...
How nice it is to be floating in space...belonging to no specific place and feeling sad about it.

Love your poetry.. very powerful

Solomon2 said...

Do you do readings?

Khawwta said...

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

Full of inspiration and thoughts, it reveals a personal experience.. I'm really touched
you are really talented.. did you ever consider publishing?
keep on writing

transient said...

What could have been..."the voice of my generation" only lingers in an intoxicated drift leaving pen idly uninspired. When Ibn? When will it return?

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

Mar, Khawta, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. Please look for more poetry soon.
Transient, the "WHEN" is a constantly rejuvinating state of mind that can not be confined to one specific tomorrow or today.
Soon, transient, soon...

transient said...

Well then, until that day, I would like to take you on a journey to let your thoughts take life as haunting creatures and see your words dueling giants. The specificy is in our confinement.

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

ooh ooh! where we goin, Pa?

transient said...

I depends on what you want to take to where. but what i had in mind is a reunion of misdirected khawat, somewhere to share "a cigarette with a rat" in between the rooftops and idle streets where gothom city yeilded its reign.

rockslinga said...

I've read and enjoyed both these poems, IBJ. Thanks for sharing them with me. I hope you create new poems soon. Keep writing.

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

thank you rockslinga.

Golaniya said...

ok this is huge!

Sherry said...

Profound! Loved the symbols/images flowing in antagonism harmoniously...
Loud enough, yet not clamorous...