Archive for April, 2010

People who died on his balcony

Friday, April 30th, 2010

by Maria Abou Abdallah

This poem is basically about being intrigued by, and falling in love with, someone from a completely different neighborhood of Beirut, and weighing all the societal complications and risks that come with that. Because it is so difficult and complicated, these individuals necessarily get to know each other in nooks and corners of the city, making one pay attention to beautiful things about Beirut one would otherwise not realise.

(NOTE: The title of this poem alludes to people “literally dying on a balcony…grandmothers, etc.” It actually refers to “a specific balcony that an ex-boyfriend of mine saw where apparently some people had been messing around with a Ouija board and were then haunted and chased by spirits, leading some of them to actually jump off the balcony.” We were discussing how closely the title relates to the poem, and Maria began re-thinking the title. I suggested that perhaps this poem also is about her, at 19 years old, dying on this balcony as well – being pushed past nineteen, growing up. Anyway, the title stayed, and it seems fitting.)


Lui, he sits across from

me with a local beer btirfa3 el

ras. My head rests

against the graffiti

of three-minute

testimonies, the only wall

I have against the slow intrigue

Of choice at nineteen.

My pupils dilate,

fixate on the shadows

those eyelashes cast on those

cheekbones, and the past

is brought back in candor

conversation. It is here

to make its presence known

in swirls of deeply inhaled and

relinquished cigarette smoke.

His pupils dilate, and with

focus lost and eyebrows

locked he stares,

with an unfamiliarity

reserved for looking at

orphaned children,

at a past

that made uncomfortable

the dream of coming home

to just take a nap

next to someone who

raises the dead in

you and for whom you

don’t need to tear abstractions

apart. Slamming down

years of cobwebbed cynicism and

maps of shadowed

self-handicapping nooks,

corners of comfort, I

say nothing works that way.

But then there is the

silent glare with which I

am met and I know, in that

moment, that I

will soon be taught how

to lie, how

to curl words around my

tongue and throw a

flaming cigarette at an apathetic

concrete sidewalk because this

truly hurts no

one, flaming

cigarettes that are

only accepted from

him, him and his

double-standard euphemisms.

With the extinction of

his smiles it was made

clear that upon the


of my mischief he

would stretch us to pained

blood-red-eyed insomniac

ends as proof that he

with his black stallion normalcy

crushing hoofs was always

bad enough for us both.

For a few moments under a

feeble sun, the end and its

threat are pushed up two-hundred

eroded steps that cut

between whispering

walls, cocooned from a mess of

noise and stains, stares

and acid rain, to end

up on the other

side where I say I’ve never

been as I clutch that

angle in a solid

arm that belongs to him.

Unable to yet foresee the dark

hurricanes of his unwavering

pride rooted in his

ancient inner city

pedigree, a soft,

soft hand accepts the weight of

his, the cloth before the

chloroform, and

over frozen sips of beer he

tells me of all the people who

died on his balcony, how their

veins dilated with

reason in the

heat of the dancing

flames of street

lamps and brake lights

igniting the wicks of bombs

they’d never drop, for wars

they could never win.


I met Maria at our first Wednesdays of the month open-mic poetry nights, a few years back when we held them at the Blue Note (currently held at Cafe Younes). She stood out to me because she reads her poems with conviction, a soft full voice with which she pleasantly manifests their melodies. And though she talks about accentuating beauty in her poems, do not mistaken her for a sunny writer, as her poems are often marked with the dark – which I’m often attracted to. Now that she’s in Melbourne studying social psychology, we only see her when she pops in to Lebanon, where she spent most of her life, and swings by to read us a poem from her reservoir. I asked her why she writes; maybe it’s an easy question, but I think not often an easy answer.

Many photographers say that they take photos to preserve snippets of time, to preserve the images and impressions that come with them. I write to bring attention to the mundane as there’s a lot of beauty in the world but we keep expecting glorious things to fall out of the sky with magnificient light so that we consider them to be beautiful. As cliche as it sounds, there is also beauty in sadness and in pain, in day-to-day bravery, in emotions both complex and simple, not just in great loves with music swelling in the background and William Blake’s pastures (although love is a common theme for my writing, of course). I try to be fair to the world and life…it’s not all good, it’s not all bad either.

So I write to preserve moments, impressions, smells, details, thoughts, feelings, associations between all of these things, encounters…mine and other people’s…and I try to write so that, for example in the case of this poem, people are transported to these moments, and are able to smell, see, hear, taste, think, and feel them. I also write about the antithesis of most Hollywood movies: loose ends. I write so that time is slowed down in a poem and because maybe there is poetry in the little things…even spilling a porcelain cup of coffee and watching it cracking on the floor…well there can be, if you want it.

Groundbreaking New Research

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Another Fool trying to tell women what to do. How will the Iranian women respond? Will we hear any of it?

This woman has a… reply… for that mofo.

If you had trouble understanding the woman on the video, for clarification please see the following script which she attached to her video.

at the end-speak out openly.

now you hav eproves that iran gov, persecute my quake read mad from it- an dfabricating scaringly -the just sport anyalysis-what I possess good-

but iran firmly middle age mistifying it obviously accuse me in woodoo-an drelating it direct to iran protests(and other one)

they make so impossibl epersecution of this my capabiliti mobilizing authorities and population ag me – on russian terr as if we are in iran

direct increasing heir elementary uneducating.

they say at last the news- thye stak eon me cause quakes but not read them


this si too much even for my religuious feel-

while by energetical laws under such level of unjustic ewhat i feel an dconnection with informational flows it even could b e- concrete to say

it must be-

becuase justice must exist

but it does not.

owr body and face and move are holy subject what islam can nto understand-

and its beauty an dalso old age is holy-

whta budhists understand but mosnel want to kill murder abiolish.

if allah says beuty nust not exits -stop existance of allahk.


we are on west-russia territory.

we ar enot moslem.

I express protest to kremlin gov. which allow such middle age obscurantism in serious manner of state mass persecution-

from mass seige abuse insults;

isolation from computing for i will nto get confirmtaion-

up to


rape efforts ect/.


iran contradits itself –

if me is posychiatry how they try to reprersent me-

then me is not wodoo on such impossibnb;le level who cna cuase quakes.

we pray to god abotu justiuce duirgn this moment

and maybe


issued the justice in quakes bec of this.

if otehr =just sport explanation iran doe snto undertsand.

4. to usa.

plseas think seriously,what kind of counterpart you have

and what you hsould do for to stop it.

5. please,defend me from this middel age reprisal.

6/and 1st-

we pray to god an dhe listen to us.and you.

I Pity the Fool

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Can’t a chocolate bar just be a chocolate bar?

Wouldn’t it look delicious simply cracked open, all gooey, just like they make big macs and whoppers look? We won’t be mad if it doesn’t really look that way. It’ll still taste good. Or, maybe a little kid could be biting into one as he’s running around the playground, and we could have a quick flashback to when we were fresh, innocent people. We’d remember how a chocolate bar was our worst vice and how it stuck to the corners of our mouth, saved for later. Or, we could even go back to the good ol’ days when Mr. T or Michael Jordan were eating one – at least they were famous for their unique talents, even if one of those talents is being one the  strangest people  on the planet.

Snickers, Mars, Crunch, 5th Avenue, 3 Musketeers, Almond Joy, Baby Ruth, and Galaxy! These names either speak for the quality of the bar or where the bar may take you or its inspiration. These names have power, charm, substance.

FLAKE. Doesn’t sound like a trustworthy candy bar. Nor does it look like it. For, if it must be  phallic-shaped, must it seductively graze the loose mouth of a woman who appears to be in a “moment” of ecstasy? And must this name be associated as well with this woman-next-door (though not in Lebanon, maybe somewhere in Connecticut)? In other words, could Mr. T be on this billboard, next to the name “Flake”? And if a man didn’t come up with the tag line “Your Moment… Your Chocolate” (read: “It’s all yours baby”), then we can be certain that women can hardly recognize their own faces. Whether this is a Lebanese ad or not, it is at almost every corner. It is only one of the many billboards that polka-dot Beirut, displaying the faces of non-Lebanese women, only second to their jean-butts or push-up bra boobs or loose jaw. The distance between us women on the ground and those dotting our sky is becoming shorter and shorter. And once we stop thinking and speaking up for ourselves, we’ll be friendly next-door neighbors.

I pity the fools who are so narrow-minded that their creativity and line of sight halts at an erection. And, mostly, I pity the fools who cater to that.

True Story on Modern Day Beauty

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

 Recently, a Beiruti woman took her son to the emergency room because he suffered a fall and broke his arm. While she was in the hospital, she thought it would be a convenient time to inquire about the possibilities of a special surgery on her feet.

“Sorrrry, bas I have a big problem. My husband spent $3000 on Minolo Blahniks for me – he brought them all the way from New York. Bas, ya3nni, they’re toooo tight, and my feet mish hilween in them. Combien to remove my pinky toes?”

Instead of sending her to a surgeon, they referred her to a psychiatrist.

The goddess Taweret at least will look down on her with a smile.