Dream for Dido
I am not a phoenix forged from fire,
nor a shape shifter.
Taking life from cigarette ash,
I weigh next to nothing.
Like Dido who flung herself into the pyre,
I mean well, but flip the switch
and I am in this story, my own little aquarium.
First, the fallen arches. Then the broken floor.
Finally, a bathtub filled with unanswered prayers.
My fiery bed floats in the Mediterranean,
negotiates waves off the coast of Tunisia.
The vanity of a woman setting her own hair on fire.
I burn double-fast, smoke myself to death.
The bed now sits on flames of water,
in between Carthage and something deeply blushing.
I have been harangued and hung by men who have left me,
a learned girl,
a queen of costumes that don’t fit.
A sad smell enters,
and I tell a lie to strike a deal.
October 30, 2011
When did you start writing poetry, and why?
When I realized I wanted to ride a white horse into the sun’s sweet cunt, and because I’d rather lie for a living than die for a cause.
Do you come from a long line of writers?
I was born to a peasant girl and motorcycle boy whose shellacked hair and Brando get-up enticed the ladies.
I was born twice, once like a bone emerging from a carcass, then like a musical note hanging from a shelf of scratched vinyl.
You are Armenian by blood, Lebanese by birth, American by citizenship. How do you identify yourself as a poet?
I undress for my country,
take my shoes off,
rip the underwire out of my bra.
I am lighter than Beirut,
tamer than Mt. Ararat.
We are starting to think you are eluding your own questions.
Well, that is how I learned to love.
Why do you think so many poets kill themselves?
For the same reason so many dolphins commit suicide. We are not meant to live in captivity.
Which poets are your influences?
If you look closely, you can see them:
one behind the armchair, two hiding under
the dining room table, arms entwined.
The one in the bathroom is stuck,
her body halfway out the door,
and the one in the kitchen keeps turning the faucet
on and off. The bedroom holds three
big ones, two on the bed,
one by the vanity painting her face.
On rare occasions, they sit on my lap,
nudge someone in the back of the neck
with their glorious heads.
One even tried to eat the geraniums
on the windowsill when nobody was looking.
How would you describe your poetry?
Needy, like a sky recovering from a dog-day in August
and the color of skin after a slap.
Some days, it wears pearls –
other days, black leather.
Do you have a book coming out soon?
No, I don’t.
Here is a list of reasons:
#1 It’s a constant ballet between refusal and a gift horse.
#2 I have sunken deeper treasures in shallower waters.
#3 The cock-fight is more brutal when you’re the hen-pecked.
#4 Dark girls, like dark skies, are pregnant with buckets of cold truth.
#5 I have compulsions towards larceny, erudite women and telepathy.
#6 Under constitutional law, the anarchist must lay low.
#7 I must either take it all by the horns or be trampled under the hooves, but I want to eat the animal.
#8 When I hit bottom, I fold my arms and sit inside my own blood soup.
#9 I am not history nor talisman.
#10 I am hanging my shoes from the telephone wires above the new world order.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank The Nervous Breakdown, specifically Uche Ogbuji, for this opportunity.