Here’s to life…

To go where it all started.
To go alone
by nothing
but hope
hope of finding her again…
no hand to hold your hand
no one to confirm your fears
to tell you not to look back
to gently wipe the tears
while your insides get shattered
along the way…

“tell me your name again?”
the soft music was not tender,
it was quite
like soundless blades
running through your veins.
no one hears the pain
when we cry no more

All we always wanted was a couple of drinks, and a long night ahead of us.” we thought while leaving the house that night.
was it too much to ask?”

like a weary piano bar singer at two in the morning, she cooed her words in the receiver “to go where it all started”.
no answer.
no answer.
was it something I said?

questions about life. disillusioned lovers. internet connection. meaningless dates. meaningless sex. leftovers. stale coffee and overflowing ashtrays. some music put on repeat. distance. vague memories of happier times. busy lives without a pause. familiar faces that take your breath away. snowy roads. age, aging and beauty. shadows of the past.

How far do you have to move on until you feel you have a past?

No one hears the pain when we don’t cry anymore.
Like billions with me, I partake in the silent melancholic psyche of the world.
We see each other everyday, everywhere.
We share that quiet understanding look and sometimes an irresistible smile that devastates your very soul with this inexplicable feeling of ‘home’.
A smile that an old woman on the subway gives you, knowing too well who you are, knowing too well that you are part of her world… a sturdy peon in her fleet of sadness.
and one day you will return her smile with infinite gratitude, declaring your eternal servitude to her majestic sorrow.
but not today. today… you smile for me.


The scent of your laurels

I write you again with the hope that this letter too shall not reach you.
I do not wish for you to know what I think, how I feel. nor do I care to know about you. but I have to leave a message lingering in the air, aimlessly, until one day it reaches home uninvited. I do this for me. not for you.
The honest truth is that during the last 4 years I almost forgot how much our life was… is a crisis. but going back you reminded me. the tragedy that we contrived, that we chose to live in, that will torment us until the end. that you chose for us, really; but little does it matter for this is hardly the time to throw some blame around. the time for that has passed. decades ago. because of this, you see, I write this calmly and with composure. from the distance that separates us.
how far I am now from the hurried hug and the awkward smile we exchanged at the airport. like lovers making some grand yet inane promises that have no consequences the minute they part…
but look at me now… I can’t help the sorrow… I am mourning the distance with every passing minute. but always with that dignified pleasure, and melancholy. playing the role of the deserted, the loner… and enjoying it. truly.
I didn’t keep pictures this time. for needless to say, nothing could have captured the yearning, the disappointment, the change… not even my very words that fall short and empty as usual. but it’s the little things as they say… the scent of your laurel soaps that was awful. your thick coffee. black and bitter. the cardamom that made me sick after you left that morning.
but as you do know – and maybe are scoffing at this with disdain – all what happened could not confound my love… to you… and my hope. I left though. in spite of that. I crossed. I came back here. and through the gray kaleidoscope of unrest… death… despair. all I could see then was your face. a tiny white dot turning and turning in the midst of it all…
I shall not write you anymore. for better leave on this vague note of uncertainty and confused affection, and much more love than a child could have to a parent. better not illuminate where dark demons have been dwelling for decades. better not.
it was death… I chose life.’ is a haunting phrase that comes to mind. and it’s true.
I choose life…


Carefully delivered affection…

A smell of sulfur and a terrible yellow hue shamelessly covers the city. depression. mental weariness. crippled emotions. all are looming over the road from the airport.
Another planted bombed ravaging the silence. and only apathy is what you hear through the night. they don’t want to know anymore. they don’t want… anymore.

The sun shone earlier this morning. hours before its expected time. casting an oblong shadow of my head on the wall. decades of memory has been similarly projected here. momentary shadows that have never left a mark.
The sound of machine guns in the background hasn’t subsided yet. I could still hear it like some eerie music from a distant day. but life is as lively as ever on this day. I hear spoons stirring thick black coffee in quiet kitchens. clattering of trays and of small cups on small dishes… women readying themselves for the morning. I hear happiness swelling up like a rose bud waiting to bloom after all those years of gray winters.

Like a precious perfume bottled in crystal, packaged with care. so much care. for if it broke nothing could contain the scent of a dissipated relationship that never took place.
Like a thin film of oil on the surface, it preserves. keeps a lid on so much. things that are never to be revealed again. matters of the heart that stay – as they should – stagnant at the bottom of the bottle. small precipitates of time. seconds, maybe years, carefully settled at the depths of aching hearts.
“do you allow yourself a little time to cry?” she asked, thoughtfully.
from the life that I never had. one that I never wanted. from there, I see them passing by indifferently… banding about happiness that I didn’t know. and then a slight tinge of regret clouds my day.
she hands me my coffee with a smile that conveys a feeling of compassion, with a little bit of pity perhaps.
It irritates me.


“Come in.”

I heard these words. but that was the end of what I heard. of what I remember I heard anyway. I remember a door opened and then closed. an empty house swallowing me in like a fish a pebble. memories brushing against my face, defiantly, screaming “we are still here”: childhood cinematography… brutal and gruesome. brutal for still being so vivid, so ‘there’… when do memories fade? oh, when they do fade… they are nothing but few bits in the patch work of all the neuroses that… are me.
I laugh, you know, because you’re never to see this… to see it from the inside, nothing gruesome should be tagged to my past…
I still smell the gunpowder. I know it’s just fire works, but all the same it’s nauseating. ugh… make it stop.
when I stepped out of that airplane. lots of memories came flooding back of course. but not until I reached their house that… oh make it stop. I don’t care what day it is. tell the children to stop. no wait. don’t. don’t tell them to stop.
but this music is too brutal. please, play it down a little.

“your music is so so pretty peter. so simple and so elegant. you stirred feelings I thought.. they’re long gone… long gone! how pleasant you are! I haven’t known you personally, but I think if I had I would’ve liked you. you lovely, lovely darling!
yours truly,”
yesterday, while playing her favorite concerto, she wrote this note to Tchaikovsky. folded it into a small paper plane, turned the music up and flew her little work of origami out the window… with a sweet smile. (how charming!)
Until he told her to turn it down. how disappointed she was! he doesn’t understand her ears anymore. or was it just the fire works that really accentuated every bang with a small explosion. but she thought it fascinating… especially the cadenza near the end taking over all the bangs of a war site…

I was utterly destroyed by the scenery of the room. faded furniture, polished for the day. grotesquely displayed like a cheaply made up corpse in an open casket. ludicrous.
this is where life stops. this is where life stopped 30 years ago. history stunted like in some fairy tale. but everyone goes into paralysis in this house. everyone, even the hopeful lad who comes back at the end to awaken the kingdom. I can’t say it’s the ruins of anything, because nothing was ever built here. nothing. this is where people gathered to create a vacuum. no no not even a vacuum, because even that takes in energy. it’s where people stepped aside from the course of life, maybe by decision, to pose like wax statues in an ever empty (empty empty empty) museum. with an ancient gramophone incessantly playing the same music… for eternity.

“how was your trip?”


come spring... and I will

Tistifil Fayrouz…

When she comes back home every night, she always rings the doorbell although she lives alone, always has, and there’s never anyone to answer.
She believes that perhaps one night someone would open the door… welcome her home after an awfully long day with open arms and a ready dinner… or maybe she just thinks that if burglars were inside she would give them enough time to evacuate and evade an unwanted and unnecessary confrontation.
One night, she came back late, rang the doorbell, and waited for a few seconds. Suddenly another door opened. her neighbor stepped out with a beaming smile and said “you’re late tonight.”
“yeah. I was held up at work.” she said with surprise.
“I have dinner prepared. would like to come in?” he offered.
She did.
(candle light dinner. Fayrouz singing in the background.)
“I wonder if Fayrouz wanted to be Fayrouz… maybe she just wanted to be a simple woman from the hills she… colors in her songs… I mean, she was under the influence of a husband she never… well, she always sounds awfully sad!” she said, probingly.
“would you like to have dinner with me?” he interrupted.
“but I am!” she replied with surprise…
“no… I mean to go out with me… like a date.” he explained.
“not until you tell what you think about Fayrouz. do you think she wanted to be the woman she is today?” she asked in a determined tone.
“well… she’s great. she’s a legend…” he answered hesitantly.
“yeah… yes she is. no. I will not go out with you. thanks for dinner though.” she replied with… tender humor perhaps.
She finished the rest of her drink. dabbed her lips with the paper napkin placed next to her plate. blew him a suggestive kiss a la Marilyn Monroe. laughed and… left.
he heard her ringing her door bell again. waiting for a few seconds, and then going into her apartment.



“How… how far would you go?” he asked [fear – hesitation].
“for how long have you known me, darling?” she replied [assuredness – tenderness].
“23 years” he said [confusion].
“have I ever stopped? short of death. have you ever seen me stop? back off? I have never committed murder, it’s not my style, but murders did happen around me quite often. I always get what I want. I always dispose of nuisances… rather gracefully, I believe.” she answered [satisfaction – smugness].
Like swimming in a sea of laughter, he laughed.
He removed her sunglasses; she looked at the ocean and smiled. no, she even laughed too.
They were happy: He took her answer carelessly; she knew that he would not see the end of the month. She felt pleased. Actually, she felt a tinge of tenderness towards him now, knowing that he will soon fade away into her past. She cherished him now as a distant memory, which in her mind he already is.

He still remembers when he first saw her… singing the habanera in some party in New York. singing with perfect intonation, with a sway of the hip and a clap of the hand, and one glance… one all consuming killer glance and he was captivated; captured, actually. enslaved… to her beauty, to her presence… to her. he’d have never imagined that he’d stepped on the web of a black window…
Babbling on the phone…

I used to listen to music while I go to sleep. I don’t anymore. I need silence. it’s more tasteful, I believe, to fall asleep to nothing. not even to a nocturne. it’s more private. the older I get the more private I get… reclusive; I won’t even share my moments of sleep with a long gone composer. or maybe that’s because now I listen more, or better shall I say. I can’t just take in the sounds without registering any emotion. any reaction.
and the sound of your voice on the phone, actually the ring of the phone itself, brings in a lot. sometimes, you know, I am apprehensive to pick up. for I know that… that your conversations are… charged. yes charged. it’s not an empty chatter about politics.. or the weather anymore. it’s all about us now. right when there is no longer ‘us’.
and your words… are shattered. they are vague. they cling to me. but only one by one. not in sentences. only words. you are shattered. yes you are. I get you piece by piece. like a joke that lost its humor for it was not told the way it should be. no no, not a joke. a plea. like a plea, yes. coming across… through so many layers. word by word it goes through – penetrates – every layer like going through… thin air. but the words are not sentences anymore. just words. shattered. vague. word by word. they simply… don’t make sense anymore.
haven’t you taught me to be a poet. haven’t you told me that if I listen to nature I could hear the music of a brook. so now I listen. and now I am filled with silent resentment… all building up… and to what? nothing. I am just becoming emotionally charged. yes, charged. you are not charged – I take that back. I am. you project. I receive. and keep it inside.
again. as I said. I can’t sleep to music. maybe it’s not you. I am becoming more… perceptive. (receptive?)
can you hear me?
yes. so… how’ve you been? and how’s Boston treating you?



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pic: Sayed El Badawi Mosque (Tanta)
Music: Mesr Yamma (sheikh Imam)