Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Citation

And therefore
this poem attempts to
critically analyze the various
modalities of alienation -

Hold up.
Right there.

Have I told you how,
in my nightmares, words
swallow me up?

The ocean used to sing
in my veins once: now it scorches
the seams of my lungs, first
a slow
slick
oily
trickling in,
and then a flood —

I float and drown, drown
and float.

And as I always do,
I wash up ashore
on this strange land where
names become adjectives,
tales narratives,
and words clump on themselves to become
New Words
choking on their self-importance.

I wash up on the shore
of a strange land with New Words
and stranger rituals, in a land
of ivory towers
built on the decaying bones
of footsoldiers
who dreamt of a seat at the table
only to find
the table didn't want them.

It is a strange land, this,
with a strange alchemy that brews poison
from lifeblood.

Have I told you how, in my
nightmares,
I live a poisoned death, my lungs
bursting from the weight of words?

Are those my nightmares?
Are those yours?
I can't tell.

It is a strange land, and its alchemy
turns gold into lead. You, me -
it doesn't matter
much. We'll all be asked
for proof. For a source.

And when you're asked
for a source,

recall the razor-sharp
edges
of all the words swallowed,
swirling
in your intestines, blunt now, reeking
of rage and regret,
and journal them in the annals
of your memory

enclose your whole (paltry) life in
parentheses

later, enlist yourself in the
graveyard
of fixed, frozen dreams
in the following fashion:

reduce your name - mangled
by time and strange tongues and familiar
faces alike - to a mere initial

remember this moment
right here
now - and put down the year
alone

"Forget Me Not: A Witty, Even Flamboyant,
Title
Makes You Look Cool(er)"

and as your hands begin to shake,
as even your storytelling
heart
spins
and spins and spins
into free fall
at the sheer artifice of it all

Stop.
Breathe.
Remember.

Your memory is not a  
Weekly Monthly Quarterly
subscription-only
institute-access-only
edifice
built on loud noise
and louder silences

Your memory
is a cacophony of ancient voices
strung like beads on a great chain
of being
and becoming,
threaded into your skin and vein
and vocal cords

until you can't tell where
they end
and you begin.

And in that brittle
battle-hardened voice of your
mothers and grandmothers
and great-grandmothers, in that quiet
voice that quivers with a lineage
of mistakes and misdeeds
and howling misery

but also of laughter
and hope
and fire in our bellies, in that lonely
voice, my love, shout:
Cite me.

6 comments:

  1. I loved this, Zainab. I know near nothing of poetry but this is emotive to me. I am so glad you decided to write again. Much love. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please, Yash Akka. Your writing is poetry. And this comment means a lot to me. Thanks a ton, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it <3

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  2. Beautiful metaphors, calculated images, and a sweet eloquence. Love the way you express yourself. Do write more. I'd be delighted to read.

    Love,
    Merrin

    ReplyDelete
  3. A beautifully written poem and the metaphors are just amazing! Do write more! :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Srishtika! Glad you seem to have loved it :D I'll try and keep writing, yes :)

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