Two Ways Into Bara

Originally appeared on The Sultan Seal blog by Youssef Rakha. Please visit the following link to view the original post.

TWO WAYS INTO BARA, BY ZAHREDDINE: SPEAKER OF THE BARAN TRIBE

(1)

Go to the street, ask for anything, it will be given to you.

BARA will have seized the monarchies and set their palaces ablaze.

There is a fellow population suffering.

To have lived it, later generations will assume it caused great conflict of the heart.

But, take my trials, they are too good for me.

Remember, the videos passed around.

am guilty.

There is nothing left to say.

White sheets compound the pavement.

Chemicals in the territory.

The revolution is a farce.

I lose your face for an instant,

this devastates me.

Syria is losing the war.

The land has been cut off from history.

Time – for massacres to mount.

Efficiency – to wait and see what will happen.

Meanwhile, they are coming to you, a million flee their home and walk towards you…

The border is overrun with refugees and rebels.

Zaatari is Jordan’s fifth largest city.

Gazans (will) fire rockets in vain.

Cairo is in despair.

The shield of your armory harbors

I

am a lunatic and yours.

How much longer can we be ashamed of our bodies?

We need a march down Riyadh naked.

Only undisciplined sex can relieve the phantom existence of the Arabs.

I dedicate this poem to the cleric

who hides from my stage

petting his fetish scarves.

For once,

let us avoid the legitimation of respect

so customarily afforded to men of his clerical position.

Let the cleric play

my little amber monkey

for the evening.

Please, for my namesake and yours,

for exaltation and the brushing of bkhour,

celebrate until dawn

as though we have passed

the finest harvest.

Drink the modern chalice

of modern malaise.

When the cleric sings softly in your ear,

undress your burdened pleasure,

slap his dilated eyes with your sex,

rest your wings against his lips,

wail while he tastes the salts of freedom.

We can carry weapons

of the material court,

or honor poetry

in the public sphere.

Aren’t you ashamed

to refuse the obvious truth?

The romantics are widowed from their ideals,

consuming what can be sought before we fall to our knees.

The chorus that informed the renaissance is mute,

wasting in the attic of progress and gains.

Where is the plane of heaven and hell

but the androgynous union of sexes?

Sex is the antithesis to death,

and the orgasm is her earthly pleasure.

A reward blessed upon those 

who heed her gifts. 

Without the myth of a parted sea,

our women wail in ecstasy. 

There is no sweeping change to awaken

the doors of perception well open

it will begin in Martyr’s Square and spread

but we need a common aim.

BARA is looking over the shoulder,

BARA is not afraid.

 

I rise on a journey to Jerusalem

to study the people and their worth,

writing these pages in utter darkness.

I feel you at the bottom of my breath,

the city as organism, as refugee,

the soldier at the checkpoint

has tears in his eyes:

“Are you the traveling mystic?”

For what’s it worth,

I lied.

 


(2)

So it is with the Port of Ports, the port I want to build for us. I return there, it is amber like, and always grey. I stand at the bullet center of the city square, waiting for the youths to gather. I wait like a bear hides in the winter. I am a tomb of bears.

Wherever the pilgrim poet protagonist goes, he is always asked the same fated question. Where are you from? A man selling dates and wild perfumes calls over the others, waiting to hear the stranger’s kindred voice. They enjoy the look of his garments, walking in from the East, and the sound of his feet disappearing into the warm, liquid sand. He wears protective glossing over his eyes, a line of mascara that seeps into the desert winds when they blow. In so doing, he escapes the squinting starlight peering back at him from the eyes of curious Bedouins. I am from the Port of Ports, three revolutions away.

I want to pretend like there is a way to answer him, that the date seller, or the old olive faced man whose initial question sparks the debate, has an answer to him, something that predicates a lasting home. The olive faced man intervenes. Where are you from, he asks. A port, three revolutions away, is the answer. What is it like there, the olive faced man, older, calm, generously asks. Now, it is destroyed. The older olive faced man intervenes. He is from the port of ports, he says, the grace of the Levant, the shores of Bacchus. In my day, it was the jewel of our hearts, filled with standing monuments of antiquity, architectural ruins and literal designs. From the heights of the Cedars, you could smell jasmine and lavender descend from the skies, burning in effervescent smoke the toasted evening air. You would eat from the hands of townswomen, and listen as they recite verses of the mystics, long gone.

Then his voice drops, he would suffer what all men suffer when faced with the reality of regret. But it is true what he says, it is no longer like that, mutilated over time.
The drifters settle their accounts and leave. They all disappear, glancing over their shoulders to the younger traveler left alone, standing adrift on the flatland desert with a glint of loneliness in his eyes.
 On his walk Eastward, returning home, he recounts the stories he’s heard, dreaming fantasies of another time, legends told to him by men and women who had seen what he would never see, lush lands of beauty and liberty. In this way, he anticipates a different space, arriving with the temper of another age, long forgotten. But each step of his boots against the sweltering mismanaged gravel road, oiling the soles of his shoes in darkness, slows the pace of his fantasies, irking him on his travel home, until he’s heard enough, and the wisest whispers of sages past are forgotten.

He hears the rapid-fire agitation of automatic rifles firing in the distance, mortar shells and clusters bombs forming habitats over banana fields and orange groves. He hears the enemy jets soaring an incantation, breaking indistinguishable barriers of sound, leaving a heap of rubble in their passing wake.

.

Bara Project images courtesy of Barakunan Publishing