Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín

Midnight Traffic Lights

 

In their mirrors, cities of Blood reflect us… walking.

 

A hospital is
usually vast.
It has rooms
smaller than itself.
People inside the rooms
are small
suffering from things
smaller than
themselves.
They scream enough
to send balloons
soaring
over the hospital
which is usually
high.

She no longer hears all
the talk about her
And I no longer hear
All that I say
To my friends.
Over the phone
A whistling silence
scratches at the letters.

Quiet
On her wheel-chair,
a  flower
thrust suddenly
into a beehive.

I sleep like a fugitive
and wake on fists
opening onto pills-
smooth… failures.

Recount accurately
the case history-
only the principal events
in the same speed of the
hand that records.
And at night, lonely
You shall lie down on paper
And pour over paper
Your vast moments.

One person only with the patient.
Only one person enters
with the patient.
Loneliness will train him

I stuff the large yellow envelope
X-rays, the latest surprising report.
The abstracts relax
under my arm
while I spell out
her full name, elegant
in small letters.



I only need a blunt knife

The sick scramble for the chair
with the wheels.
I had given them my ID
in pawn
for a wheel chair.
Corridors peal
Showing other corridors,
I push the scramblers
to retrieve my ID
and hand them back
their wheelchair.

On the card they wrote:
“Diluted Dose”
but that woman
I did not know
why  did she hold
on to my skirt
and scream.
I did not see except her
blackened teeth
Like a midnight
traffic light.

Strange blood enters her.
Absent woman, man
in a plastic bag.

The door opens
the room is shut
On the bed,
spits of medical jargon.

She won’t drink the milk,
I will not beat her.
In this battle the
carton of milk
shall remain between us
gaping.

Only I need a blunt knife
To cut through this sack,
Enough floor,
room for my body
To find something to fall on.


She bends her head slightly to one side

The man asks me,
What will they do to my wife?
Then suddenly
his wedding ring
encircles the corridors.

Palms stained
She looks at her blood,
horrified.
It is the same blood
That had penetrated her.
She never saw it naked,
before now.

They did not heed me
When I had asked them
to turn down the central
airconditioning.
The cold metal room,
A speck falling
On a growing building.

Every hour the temperature is taken.
Every time I take the temperature
It has been an hour.

The hospital is under a green siege
The stone corridors fit for strolling lovers.
“Enter the doctor”

She bent her head slightly
to one side
And went to sleep for a while.
Death dislikes an easy prey.

Heavy with her
I climb the corridor
to the hospital’s entrance.
Heavy with me,
I climb down the corridor
from the hospital’s entrance.

Death that professional actor,
Does he heed so many rehearsals?


All our panting paces

 

They ordered us back home.
The sheets were all crumbled
as we rose from them
hurried in the morning.
Two night gowns on the seat.
We had gone into bed together,
simply, like the phone
ringing in a empty room.

But this illness screams,
Crowding us, demanding
a pain killer.
I only wanted for them
to secure the bandage.

Maybe it was the corridors
suggested to me
that my life needed
some drawn curtains.

On the waiting table
Some old magazines
Perfect, exact
for patient hours.

A morning like a pink piece o cloth,
Behind her gashed skin,
obvious and smooth,
and bathed every moment.

I must then, bring out some words and inspect them in the light.
And I must fill the window with my body at night, and write bad
poems about those returning home.

All our panting faces
The doctors’ voices,
the cobalt machine buzzing
the noise of outpatients,
And this silent blood!


They scatter some grain


Perhaps I realized that the hand which held the water had been
training for long when we had stared at the water fall.

I woke up on the phone
ringing.
Voices reprimand me
that I slept all those hours.
Why should they blame me,
so long as I drink
a cup of tea
the moment I wake up.

The vein that pops up
surprised
from her body,
It does not wish
to tell at all
of its boisterous trip.

Alone she enters naked
the cold metal room.
She fears the grave
Full to the brim
With the bones of many beloved.

Like a child
She looks up at me
while I wash her pants
I smile back and desire
That I too soil my pants.

My friend shall pass by
early tomorrow.
She will blow the horn of her car
twice.
Then we shall head for the building
which lies like a breast
ozzing into the Nile.

I do not wish her to die
Like a dress lifted
from some washing basin.

Maybe

In the small room
We slept close together
We pledged:
To silence the slave clock.
Not to answer the morning call.
That she would wake me
if she felt anything.
Close together
thirty five years
of life together
is bursting.

My ribs close behind her moans
the way doors of an elevator close.

I prepare fruits for her,
the bed pan, the bottle of disinfectant.
Nothing is left of the night
Except the French panorama;
and exactly like a hand
picking a book,
I shall go.

Maybe I fix my eyes on my leather bag as it runs on the conveyor
belt. Or fight nausea when I look at stamps. Maybe I was wash
the house everyday so her falling steps disappear. Or keep my
memories wrapped  in cotton wool, like collector coins.
Translucent, almost transparent pieces of cotton wool.

They said they would
carry out the death sentence one morning.
When she wore her blood
They threw some grain.
The grain stopped the birds’ nest
In the window of the cell
from growing.


Thorny Gaps Suddenly Moving

 

The keys that open doors
are the keys that close them,
and the keys strangled in chains
have nothing but the drama of tinkling.
But the key that dies in my pocket
reminds me it is time
that I became a reasonable woman
who lives in a house
without keys, without doors.

 

* * *

 

A new comet disappears
before we notice its features,
before we realize
that is the same old comet.

 

* * *

 

All I saw in my heart afterward
was a deep footprint
where blood could not trace its path.

 

* * *

 

How did I love a man like a black star
who strips me of all the men I loved,
and who leaves me nothing
except an orphan’s joy.

 

* * *

 

Darkness devouts a full moon;
and shaking, it raises
a sickle of defeat.

* * *

 

Why do you walk into the family scene
like water falling from the sides of a jug.

 

* * *

 

I say “Ziyad, I am your mother
            and you shall not be.”
I say “Ziyad, my womb is made of shrapnel,
           how can I house you there?

 

* * *

 

Every day
while I am on the express metro
a rundown house flashes by,
a wooden ladder leaning against it,
and a corrugated iron door,
always open.
Every day-
until it became my home

 

Translated by Khaled Mattawa


Emaciated Teeth

 

Where do these trees come from
like a volcano pressing on the window,
and why do I have to
open their dusty curtains
every morning.

I see them
flinging their heavy branches
on the lung of emptiness
cluttered with yellow leaves.
              How can they
catch  the wind in their nets
and injure the sparrows?
             How can I
close the window on the stolen light
before it slides on their trunks?
             How can the air reach me
Without being poked by their knives?

Every day
they display their colorful innards
as an offering to autumn
and in winter they remain naked
glaring at their own shadows.

An octopus devours the crevices
while the leaves dance a Pharaonic dance.
Emaciated teeth had fallen on them.
And even the Nile
has crammed its body in a tube and insisted
on being present.
They guffawed while leaning on buildings,
and my heart, teeming with cuttlefish,
searched for the slipknot of water
                                             and hedgerows of birds.

                             (2)

The scrolls were lifted off
the spearheads of boughs.

 

Translated by Khaled Mattawa


* * *

You shall hear a little ruffle in the
chicken coop, and in the morning you
shall find a shining egg, and the face
of the ground slightly scratched.
Hundreds of thousands of years, we
spent sure that the granaries and
treasuries of god were full. But a
single fried egg in the morning
looked like an aborted sun, and I was
finally overcome by shere emptiness.

And since attempted murder was also
criminal, we clenched our fists on
evil and licked what ran between our
fingers.


He made me promise to scatter his
ashes and then collect the dust the
wind blew from the roads.
It was not as impossible as I first
Thought. Every time I walked I saw his
Particles stain the earth. I would
peal them and throw them in a basket
until I filled two baskets that I
buried beside him and slept.

In the morning, the worms were gnawing
at my hands, their bones looked like
two empty baskets… exactly.

Fredy Amariles
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