Fady Joudah

Moon Grass Rain

Here we are all victims at last
“Without love, life is nothing”
No one dies in their dream
We always waken before the crash

And the rain
Melts the roads
And the roads
Can rupture a spleen
Or pass a kidney stone

As for the heart
It needs a beginning
The narrative
Burden of events

“Mize, zey eat mize”
The Frenchman exclaimed with a smile
“Rrghaised and shipped from za States”

We raise rats! I thought
A lot of protein!

“Maize maize!” it was, after our chickens
Have had their fill

Here we are with love pouring out of every orifice
Here they are dancing around the funeral pyre
The corpse in absentia
The constellation at the borders of the world

The black cat brushed against the broomstick
The broomstick fell on Chico's guitar
In the middle of the night
Chico the guard screamed when his guitar spoke
Chico loves to laugh despite missing his front teeth
That's when I went back to dreaming about a hailstorm in an Arabian desert

Here, elephant grass moves like morning mist is visible
In the breeze, but doesn't dampen the skin

So what is it, then, you want to tell me tonight, half-lit
And three-quarters absent, not even enough
To save battery power?

And death has the color of cyanide-sour cassava roots
Dried near fire smoke, so neither parasite lives nor hunger

Here, elephant grass is slam-dunk high and sways
Like women unpinning their hair in shampoo commercials

And this Eurydice also dies from snakebite

And has neighbors who will raise her child
And bring him to the therapeutic feeding center
Or the supplemental one
A lullaby

This grass is like unbraided hair
After a long captivity
I hold America like a flower
I tear its petals one by one
America, my limbic loss, alone
I split your moon
Like a pelvis
Alone I spin
My lab rat wheel - someone else
Is watching us die

I am the hesitation before words
Or after. Come
Come recite a poem from childhood
With me, come into my office
My dear chromosome in arms
Of translocation

Here the dead borrow nails for their coffins the way one bums a cigarette

And who am I to know the sadness of the fallen out uterus
The worn out womb
And no more chance
For boys to gleam in daddy's eyes?

The translation of a medical interview
Is not a poem to be written:

I love the slope between us
The see-saw of our playground, time

At the corner
Of your neck and chin

Here the asphalt blisters in the rain
Like herpetic lip sores
Whose craters the boys fill

With dirt and gravel
And broken green branches
Then wait:

No windex. No flowers or newspapers
And gratuity is appreciated

I am thinking of you now
The weight
Of laughter in your fear
What we want to say
To each other
Before the incidence of speech

Because “I have ants in my leg”
And “my leg went to sleep”
Are not the same thing

The French argue there is no sleep
In a tingling numbness
The symptom of sluggish blood!

I agree. Me too my leg has been anted
And we are learning to reconcile
The unelectric time

The rain has disemboweled the last of sky
The clinic is empty

Soon the clouds will unseal the earth like a jar
Harvest is the season that fills the belly

Soon you might need boots to walk on clouds
And the wind will campaign in crystal blue absence of rain

But what of the cockroach under the straw that broke the camel's back
The cockroach on the bristles
Of toothbrushes in the water-bucket bathroom
And the forlorn mosquito?

And when I say red
It is not the moon opposite the sun
But the burning crackle
Of dry season grass after dusk

The nurse giving mouth

To mouth, bent over

In the back of the bumping jeep

The infant dying of heart failure

The taste of froth in the lungs

Here the grass is as if we were at the bottom of a transparent sea

The way children jump in water, head last, head out

And who could blame them? Algae

Also comes to mind

You are not a moon that I set foot upon you and call you mine

I never said I wanted to kill you or if I even wanted you dead

I wanted to kiss you until it hurt

Break you unlike mudstone along discernible plains

One of the drivers ran over the neighbor's ducks
The neighbor demanded compensation for the post-traumatic
Stress disorder he accurately anticipates

You cannot tell
Who killed who or how
Many ducks were there to begin with

Do you know
What's it like to drive on roads occupied
By animal farms

Four days the river runs to the border

Nine days to learn that it wasn't the shape
Of your nose that gave you away

And debts are paid off in a-shelter-for-a-day

A pile of wood plus change in your pocket
Is a sack of potatoes and change in another's

Here I ride my bicycle electrically invisible
Except for a crescent's shadow and the Milky Way
Is already past

And a mirror gives the moon back to the moon
Home is an epilogue:

Which came first
Memory or words?