Poems to a Libyan Girl

Letter

 

Across the funereal waters,

Somewhere amidst death’s booming nightlife,

You hide away in stolen happiness

Not knowing that purpose

My purpose

Stalks you like a voyeurish jinn.

 

Kidnapped back to the home

Where you always wanted to be

Yet never wanted to see

I can see your smile of crescent mischief

Light-up that war-torn playground

And your calamari hair lying still

In the breeze that smells of flayed skin.

 

Will you ever come back

Or will you always be a shadow?

 

Shadow frozen by the coldness of my dread

In a memory that refuses to pupate.

 

As long as you are absent

Absent too will be purpose in living.

 

Dear hell where is the town

That holds her, hostage, happy,

Is it just beyond the sea

Or a captive of what eternity?

 

Her young life is a god-send

Taken away by the tide of time;

And I cannot begin to see

The face I will never again see.

 

A sure divide permeates the view

That gazes back at me from the hill;

The schools, the barracks, the misty sea,

Somewhere your memory hides and ducks

Looking at those familiar sights away from me.

 

Pallid life; it never knows

What history it will write.

I never knew of you

Until I knew of you.

But I will never un-know you

Even now I won’t know you again.

 

And all that’s disgusting will be disgusting still;

How is it a fair exchange:

You took with you my silver-lined purpose

And in return you gave me

A naked grenade loaded with despair.

 

And I write you this,

Happily.

 

 

Call to Memory

 

The voice of a dying man reaches out

To you beyond the passing of time.

My girl now woman, is my voice an echo

You would care recall?

 

Like the muezzin I call out to you

Are you well, are you alive?

In the midnight of the humid summer

I hear your voice ululating dreams.

 

The dreams you sang to me in the serenity of youth

Are now onyxes solidified by my side.

Would you want them back if you returned –

Or do you even recognise them?

 

Now this is the voice of a dead man singing;

Return and engrave my epitaph

Upon the grave that tilts in the winter cold.

Let your memory, please, guide your hand.

 

Be the Styx that carries my life’s purpose

Across the flat river so tuneless

Into the echelons of the other-life, let my afterlife be

An insomnia haunted by your youthful perfumes.

 

I will accept death if you only accept life.

Kiss life’s crimson skies

With your own ochre lips, and I will rest, rest;

Greeting death like a life fulfilled.

 

Every now and then only open your soul

And let me hear my voice within

A voice conceived when you were truly you;

And now, are you what I’ve imagined?

 

 

 

Happiness/Sadness Without Precedent

 

The music plays and your face alights.

Cheeks kissed by Saharan dawns

And smiles forged in Libyan wars;

Your happiness is worth more than the gods.

 

Your eyes seek me out as the music plays

You share with me a happiness I can never mistrust.

 

Side to side, like a lost wave, you sway.

The music slows and you raise your tethered arms;

You dance and defy the misery of fate

You dance and the universe is alive.

 

Your eyes seek me out as the music plays

You share with me a happiness I can never mistrust.

 

Do you know, as you look at me,

That you will never see me again?

She answers and her ‘yes’

Draws the curtain.

 

Stop looking at me, I’m not what you think I am,

When the music stops, I will become

The trapped amnesiac I never let you see.

 

Stop looking at me, it’s almost over,

Though it will never end;

But what good is a memory stretched by time?

 

Stop looking at me, I don’t want to say goodbye,

When it’s all over it’ll be as it was in the beginning

And all you’ll leave me is the ghost of happiness.

 

Stop looking at me – you’ve stopped now, I know,

And though your happiness is wasted on me

I can only hope there’s more of it to come.

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6 comments on “Poems to a Libyan Girl

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