The Adventures of Plee and the Sycophant

It's a mad, mad world.

Prone

There. There it was, that elusive trust. The fleeting feeling that you were believed. Flitting, flying, weaving its way around every human, pausing only to rest on your shoulders like a warm farwa holding the cold dry wind at bay. 
But then, all of a sudden, it is

(yanked)

          (pulled)

                   (stolen)

taken from you. It was never meant to be there. It never meant to stay. Had you only imagined it? Had you wished it so very strongly your mind took pity on itself? What- after following all the rules and trying your very bestest and actions speak louder than words but words have the power to cut- what more could you have done?

The wisp of trust moves just out of your reach. You run, run faster than you have ever run before. You will catch it if it’s the last act you manage to achieve before the world burns, if it makes your very soul mired in unhappiness while your heart protests the bouts of suffering you intend to drag it through. But it skips ahead, weaves and leaves just out of reach just out of service just out of why do you think the worst of me even if all I do is breath. The crowd swells and you pray for it to part, to let you through just a minute just a second just a little inch to the left to slip through to get there but the ones that crowd you hold still, hold strong, grow and multiply until they’re the wall and it is gone. And you stop. You think. You feel.  

And you realize: It had never been warm. It had been- 

It had been-

A sleight of the brain?

You are freezing to the very bone.

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This One is For Batool

I am an oyster. I am an oyster in a sea in the big wide open world of doubt and mayhem and darkness and time. My oysterness waves in the gritty ground of broken positivity, calling in the waves to wash over the shells of my body. I grow where I exist, my back forever attached to the reef of my brethren.

My brothers, my sisters, my family, my clones. They are everywhere. They are too much. I have been moving so my anchor fails. I wish the tide would take me. I wish I could see somewhere else.

Today, my back feels loose. Just a little bit. Just enough but not quite. I retreat when the water gets too cold. I retreat when it beats too strong. There is an invasion of ground, and I hide. They say it causes pain, the ground. They say the unwanted visitors burrow and steal and take over. They say they are alien vermin, waiting for the moment we do not close our homes to break in and change everything. I am not as brave as I once was. I am less. I clam up.

My back loosens again. The tide is strong today. In my excitement, I forget to shirk. My body is wide open, and a thing brushes in. Danger. Danger beckons and I prepare to fight. Expel the parasite! Take back what is mine! It has blown into me through no fault of its own but it deserves to die nonetheless.

I toil all night and all day and all night, to fight the intrusion. I feel faint, and I think I might die. It is the parasite’s fault. It broke my plans. It broke my barriers. I will fight to the end to assert my oysterness against this outsider, this threat to our way of life.

But to fight, one requires more energy. And I tire of all this. I wish to stop pushing against the ground, against myself and my shell and my innards and things. So I stop. And my walls gently cover the intruder, as it sits in my body that was my shell that was my wall that was my protection.

And somehow, something beautiful grows. Something tiny and shiny and natural and rare. And I worry, about what measures will have to be taken if the others discover. How will I roam the earth with this new hope that grows in me? My back loosens more.

More. I hope, and I grow. We grow. I am the parasite and the parasite is me. We become one, we become each other, we are built in protection and nearness and new beginnings.

And when we stop, we are plucked from the ground like the changes that we have been made into.

And now I/we/it, we see the world. From atop our new perch, we spread joy.

And I am brave once again.

Memory

It’s a derelict space; a land of bygone wealth and broken stones. You meander along the laid path, letting the rain pelt you as the clouds pass by.

It’s peaceful. Even magical, maybe. Just a little bit. And as the pitter patter of the waterdrops speed up on your umbrella, you close your eyes and see it as it once was, bustling with people and furs and nobility, with children and coal and bales of hay. With injustice and slavery and prejudice. You see a prince pass by, and a maid sweap the hearth. You watch as a mother quietly nurses her babe. You breathe in the wonderfully cold air, and add a fairy or two to the scene in front of you. Goblins underneath the grate. Ghouls in the highest tower. Gryphons descending from the skies to feast on the grazing sheep below.

And you smile. Because you can still see that world, the past one and the magical one. It’s still in your brain, in the deep recesses of your mind. Age has not taken it away from you. Yet.

You sidestep a sprite that’s sticking its tongue out at you. Step carefully over a toadstool house. And then your brother calls you from the bottom of the hill and you accidentally leave the place you were just in. But he’s calling you to a perch on the cliff with a view that takes your breath away.

And as you stand there, with your brother, with your family, in a fog that the worlds would envy, you remember, again, that sometimes the real world is even better.

Sometimes.

(Quick! Look! That dragon is waving hello!)

 

[originally published in Jaffat El Aqlam’s Memory Issue]

Rich

There are hollow men
in the streets
by the trees
set apart.

There are hollow women
in the homes
beneath the stairs
hidden tight.

There are hollow children
in the parks
on the swings
going fast.

There are hollow animals
in the ground
deep in holes
digging down.

The hollow sun
rises up.

It calls

the moon
to take its place.

All those in the hollow town
have now gone to sleep.

Days of Frolic and Froth

Oh, tsarina, oh tsarina

Where has your summer gone?

 

In the shadows of Almina

Plotting evil things with the Don

 

All the officers have been bought

And all the armies have amassed

 

The brave General we have shot

In his large shiny house of glass.

 

A bad excuse we’ll fabricate and

force the newspapers to delay

 

Evidence will be planted in the sand

The planters killed for lesser pay.

 

 

 

Oh tsarina, oh tsarina,

What mess now have you made?

 

Now we dance with Carabena

With our guns cocked towards the shade.

The Watcher

I float

to a tree.

 

My legs are bare

and they tangle with the

branches of the willow.

 

It is night

and it is day,

in a sky

bewitched

betwixt

between

as the sun

collided

with the moon.

 

And in my tree

I watched

as the wind blew the hair

into my face

as I suffocated in the ash

of the fallen stars.

 

 

My work was done; they had become one.

And this universe was bare once more.

#ENFAF Day 5

“Intelligent lizard blood! Get your intelligent lizard blood here!”

 

“Eyeballs! Magical revolving eyeballs! Sees errything all around guaranteed!”

 

“Walking talking legs on sale! Walk the walk, talk the talk for half the price!”

 

“Magic brains, smart brains, dumb brains, drumpf brains, find yer brains here fresh and pickled brains!”

 

“Baleela baleela baleela baleela baleela baleeeeeeeeeeelaaaaaaa!”

 

The two monsters from Nafrthin looked at the busy market, jostling with folks hawking their wares and folks buying them, and then looked at each other. “The baleela, definitely the baleela.” the taller one noted, her friend nodding emphatically. They stepped towards the line that snaked through for miles. It always was baleela for everyone else, too.

#ENFAF Day 4

Ode to Food
To all the donuts I’ve eaten
And all the cheese I’ve freed
To the fries I just demolished
The ice cream and pomegranate seed
To the hot chocolate volcanoes
and fluffy cotton candy clouds
Twisted pretzels at the mall
Shredded duck in lettuce shrouds
To burrito eating competitions
and super giant pizza pies
Sticky soft caramels
Of a gargantuan size
Triple chocolate malt shakes
Halawa tahinia stuffed dates
Hinaini, oh so piping hot
Rice pudding in a shot
Sambosa filled with cheddar cheese
Fudge popsicles that freeze
Oh gorgeous food, you so fine.
How happy I am when I dine!

#ENFAF Day 3

Some people say I’ve gone over the bend. Gone nuts, out of my mind, lost it, went bananas, rented the upper flat, flew off the handle, blew my top, dove in the deep end, popped my cork, went apeshit crazy crazy crazy crazy madinsanecrazylookinhiseyesthey’vegonedarklikethedevil’sheisthedevilleavehimalonestayaway kidshouldbelockedupthrownawaykilled.

But they don’t know anything. They don’t know  they don’t know they don’t know theydon’tknowthey do n’t k no w- Know. I’m not. I’m not any of those things. I’m not any of those things I’m more. I didn’t just dive into the deep end, I drank the whole ocean swam in it breathed lived threw it up again because the seabeds were looking so empty so sad and that wouldn’t do oh no it wouldn’t. Know. No. Now.

Now you’re looking at me inching away. I can see you. I can see your eyes wide big blank unblinking mask of politeness put on tight watching me wondering when it would be socially acceptable to leave leave me leave you leave us leave this mortal plane we are on that is nothing nothing nothing. You are nothing. I see you. I see your words too. I see your words too and I see mine, every where, ev er y w h er e in the sky in the air in your face written everywhere just words words yours mine theirs everyone’s words just floating that never go away so I can never stay because then I can’t breathe I can’t be it just gets so full with letters are you regretting you sat next to me? Regretting you asked? Remorse. Remiss. Renounce. Reimburse. Revenge. Rewrite. Your face is horrified. I don’t blame you. My face is horrified all the time too.

It’s like living in a thesaurus. A thesaurus mashed with dictionary mashed with an episode of Barney where the Cookie Monster spells things over and over and over and I never get to eat. Synonyms adjectives nouns verbs everywhere alive alive and I can’t escape. Not since I fell into the lab’s new invention. Not since I died and came back again this monster of literature that used to love reading but now can’t thinkbreatheeatlivesleep just words words everywhere everywhere EVERYWHERE. Everywhere when they say action speak louder than words and I just sit there shaking wondering hating loathing stop don’t open your mouth shut up shut up shut up shut up and listen.

Nothing’s sacred anymore. When you see I Love Yous where your loved ones once were after they left you because you couldn’t listen as they yelled at you in big block letters and cried in ugly bold ones love is just another word humans say like a bandaid to hide the other words they don’t. Lies big and fat dripping unlike the truth that flashes red in the black print of my universe. My universe my world my dimension that is just like yours but with the pages of your speech all over my eyeballs burned into my retina scrambling to find a place in my brain .

They say I am insane. I’ve gone over the bend, eaten bananas, fried the control centre, rented my soul, broken the handle, hit the ball too hard, knocked on the noggin.

I am so much more.

I am you.

 

 

#ENFAF Day 2

There is a petal
in the sky.

And it is falling
falling
fall/
ing

on the heads of those who are chosen.

The ones
With fixed smiles
On their faces.

The ones with wide unblinking eyes.

The ones
Who cannot
Move.

The petal
Falls on the chosen
And they all look at the clock.

Waiting.

With bated breath
they wait.

For the spark
of the flower.

To bring them to life.