Day 12 Poem: Coffee Violence (30/30 Challenge) ~ Alyah Al Aswad
My mother would’ve be happier
if she was a speckle of dust dancing at the tip of my nose
in a beam of crisp morning sunlight.
than she is being a woman, at this moment.
As I sit on a Persian carpet
eying my parents taking sips
from pitch black Turkish coffee
I’ll blame the darkness they cannibalized in neat cups every morning,
for tonight’s freakshow.
The woman who memorized the geometry of my body
and the physics of lifting me up
has had bruises that match the coffee stains on a table cloth.
She is jittery, but its not the caffeine.
The bad habit, if you will, is my father.
I never saw them held as tight
as by early day silence,
when their lips puff soft murmurs of nothingness.
I only loved my father at this time of the day.
I realized. It is telling,
the way you can chose to grip a glass cup with a circumference close to the size of a neck.
He handled his coffee the way he brought my mother to his lips.
There’s so much repentance to catch up with.
He was iron-fisted. so I taught myself to soften my grip enough to crack the theology in the curve of hips,
because it is painful and unfair
that I think
my mother would’ve be happier
if she was in the speckles of dust dancing at the tip of my nose
in a beam of crisp morning sun-ray
than she is being my creator, at this moment.
Day 12 Writing Prompt (30/30 Challenge)
Write for 20 minutes using the following as your starter: “Hello Coffee…”
Day 9 Poem: Caffeinated Fortune (30/30 Challenge) ~ Alyah Al Aswad
The gypsy reads the tea leaves,
yet we believe in coffee beans - mostly,
besides minarets and food on the table.
My mother -in her beloved concern- had asked her aunt to tell my fortune
I should marry a man.
My mother’s aunt sets two chairs on a balcony lined with her childrens’ fresh laundry.
She is a widowed woman, who knows the dried fruit of Damascus
with wrinkles predestined to rule the hunger within the ragged allies swarming with ants and children playing survival of the fittest.
She had prepared the pot of brown brew over a stove that gives out an actual fire flame.
Houses and people like these had never known electric plates,
let alone starbucks.
During my college years in the States I had countless moments of self discovery,
I learned I’d rather be straight than a capitalist,
and that I’d rather love hunger than love big corporate assholes.
My aunt asks me to drink her heavy coffee, and talk to her about what has been troubling me;
Her nervous temper gets the best of her, and she ignores giving me a second to answer instead she tells me why she thinks my capacity to love a woman is unnatural.
Apparently, I am more interested in her kitchen than her opinions on my love life.
I think to myself; the pot used to prepare my drink had been in a civil union with the
face of open fire for centuries;
its how it goes.
According to my aunt I should have rooted myself in some man’s tiles already,
I find myself not understanding whats so unnatural about two women
making love and coffee in a kitchen like that.
It happens to be my dream,
I romanticize her life, except I’d rather be remonatic with another arab woman as I live it.
I ask her how she makes her coffee.
Her voice trembles as if a concern-monkey is balancing on her voice-strings;
you add contaminated tap water to the pot,
then 4 spoons of ground arabica beans
then you stir,
then it boils,
then you take it away from the fire,
then you stir again,
then you pour.
Much like lesbian sex in the Middle East;
you add taboo to a bed;
then 4 spoons of trust that this chick does not tell on you;
then you stir her between her legs
then she sweats
then you stop stirring and you kiss her neck
then you stir again
then she pours.
I ask my aunt if coffee is unnatural too.
She ignores my question
and asks me to finish the coffee.
That’s the thing with Muslim Arabs,
they do not enjoy questions that make them question themselves.
I finish my cup.
She asks me to flip it and have it rest face down.
I suddenly relate to the cup, people around this side of the globe make me wonder if my face should belong on the ground with feet and flipflop toes.
She leaves me in my admiration for a flower pot next to the wall.
I try to think up a poem to match it,
or at least a line.
She takes the cup.
The coffee had left queer patterns on the inside walls.
She tries to read them.
Her face begins to look like the Prophet’s in cave Hiraq,
when he first received the message of Islam from God.
Her son walks in,
asking about his lunch.
She leaves to prepare it.
I leave to see my girl,
who I had missed.
She never tells me what she found in the dirt of my coffee,
it could’ve been something horrible.
Day 6 Poem: The Tourist (30/30 Challenge) - Alyah Al Aswad
This city believes in smoke.
Its governors believes in tourists.
I define my mornings by whatever happens over the cup of coffee my mother makes.
An old man sits in his winter underwear on his matchbox balcony
smoking a virgin cigarette as he watches a 2 foot-tall girl in high heels and an ill-matched dress. She reappears from the corner store, bearing a bag of bread and an infant brother.
This is a sight to remember, not to take grey-scale pictures of.
We’ve made evenings out to smell like burnt thorn bushes,
edging into long nights of pulling air from hookahs
and breathing in the last stranger’s breath.
I can comfortably say,
My lungs are the only common ground I’ve got left with my countrymen.
Its what we do,
gay and straight people alike, we sit in cafes and smoke,
together, believe it or not.
Its the one place where gay does not stain.
Our honesty at its finest,
is a flower boy begging a foreigner for money,
instead of selling his supply of roses.
Mr. Tourist, are you Jesus?
Mr. White Tourist, in glasses, with a voice full of horse carriages on cobble stone walks ruins my appetite by looking awkward, and reminding me of occupation.
He has a lonesome dinner on a porch overlooking hills mounted by fatigued houses, giving out lots of radio buzz, and infant shrieks.
Its a sight this moron admires.
His eyes skim over the roofs accented with laundry lines and metal water tanks,
its all we got to show for our honest day’s sweat.
Its what this city has to offer you…poverty. Mr. Tourist, is it good enough?