Yalla! Chapter Four - Friends




We met in a laundryroom – we like to remember.
You, newly arrived to study the brain,
with hair like a madman’s. 
Both of us, optimists.
I was desperate for you at Halloween.
Angel found garçon-in-a-bowtie. 
We danced, I died.
We went to see your neurons, still alive in the fridge.

Your daddy followed Nietzsche, Mummy followed Daddy;
beyond good and evil, your heart was smashed.
The debris, several shrapnel, targets females mostly.
Now you are this big yuppie, but in those days
we sparred like siblings, squirrel pups,
round and round and round the tree.

I hurled ‘neurotic,’ not ‘psychotic.’ 
You found ‘pugnacious.’  Then tenderly, ‘precocious,’
and one summer,  the German for broke-ass-Volvo.
(Will you stop being a prick?)
The debris, several shrapnel, comes for you at night. 
For this, rum has been prescribed, mixed with Coke. 


You loved me first –
I know it.  I know
And how nice!
Faintly smiling here:
‘tis love shining
In your eyes.
Your arm around me,
Hand on shoulder –
Exhibit B.

See your beauty –
It’s raw, it’s physical –
With me, you glow.
You like me, you like me,
Can’t help but
Relax around me.
Can’t help but
Love and protect me,
And how nice!


You spoke of your dad
Which profession is not important
Nor what job, what contribution.
It’s just notable that he
Worked very hard at it.
Hardwork!  Like a man?

Like a fool.  He worked so
Hard that mum ruled
The roost in her fashion
With a nag and a peck,
While dad was tired –
Angry but too tired to show.

Too fat to rise.
Hardwork – pot belly,
Like a man?  A virtue?
Too fat, too pot-bellied,
Too drunk, to raise his
Voice, raise his hand

Or raise his arse off
His favourite chair at home
To raise his sons.
They took everything at work,
Once home, he gasped for air
And just sat there dying. 


Am I?
(without you adoring me)
Why sing,
If no one’s there to hear?

If you cannot watch my story,
Did it happen?
The show must go on
But first, backstage, these tears. 


MY students
I love you more
Than you will ever know.
Love is elemental –
Now I understand.


A lady in drag is my best friend.
She is a spy,
Although I don’t know it. 

When we I.M.
Our words are of love, unconditional.
Praise, since it is deserved. 

Twinhood, a bond that lasts forever.
Gossip too.  Theories, with lectures and readings.
The joy of boys.

In Afghanistan now –
Dari areas mostly,
Not Pashto – she gets by,

Dressed like a man
In blue kaftan by day.
They love her madly there

But I fear of course
They may drag her out of her jeep one day
And kill her.

In the evenings she
Sometimes joins the folk dances
Happening secretly in darkened homes. 

Women must dance;
It is vital to love.
The memory of dance is the women’s hope.

She dances, rehearsing in the darkness
For the cabaret in some red-light-big-city club.
For the cabaret, where she wears shiny make-up.


My own Irish Cottrell,
German Schwiebert,
One so true: I miss you. 

A kiss from my lips
Will reach you shortly;
Give you some pleasure.

Merely one hundred degrees
Of longitude – mere hours –
Between me and you. 

But our love is
Mystically endowed,
Sur-routing space-time.


One so true, so rare,
They picked on you
But killed nothing.

Come back to me,
Tell me the future;
Let us talk in truth. 

What an honour, I swear!
That my own friend
Can tell the future. 


I loved your body
The day I met you
And your manners, youth, your hair…

I loved your mind
The years we were neighbours –
Strings, branes, carbon and all.

I learned of your heart
Later in those letters:
You love the truth, it’s plain to see.

How could I not love you
Above most?  You’re
the top, although you’re crazy. 

Imagine, called the Beatles,
If most people were like you. 
Imagine a better world. 


Now I wish you could teach me
Or I, you: what is love?
It’s not physics, or systems, but consider:

Love between a man
And a woman, as
Prescribed by society –

How does one achieve that?
Does it feed the soul?  Could it, even?
Do the sheep have it right?

You and I suspect (believe)
That ‘everybody’ is often wrong,
Yet we follow them:

Hence I search for Rafael
The stolid, while
You seek Tanya the homegirl. 

Perhaps with them we rest
Our bodies but with you
I’ll rest my soul.


My own friend
My love for you is true and eternal
I know you understand this.

Now, as always,
Reach out your hand.
I have so much to tell you.


I said “I’ll miss you”
And you replied that you
Couldn’t miss me as I
Was already in your heart.


Wherever did I find the strength
To turn down a meeting with you tonight?
And however will I say no
When you ask me gently to do like
They do on The Discovery Channel?

Habibi, I’m so restrained,
so fearful.
The sweetness between us now
Is a sweet fruit from God. 
As we suck from its ripeness,
Let us lean back and ponder its purity. 

Pure, hence special. 
Restrained, yet heady.
Every hum is filled with meaning,
Joy, excitement, restraint.
Yaa Sadiqii, however shall I deny?


He was The one
Who made me mad and happy
In the same week,
Made me joyful while in my care
But steam-out-of-ears angry
When I heard him being foolish. 

He was the one that got away –
Fled from his fears:
A legend who doesn’t want to be
A hero – who feels ordinary
In spite of being extraordinary
And in fact very unordinary. 
Big dork!  Geek.  Nerd.  You get?

He was never The One.
Time has told me
What his actions told others:
That I was in the wrong game
With the wrong playmate
That he was too confused. 

Still he was the one, so far,
Who was so pretty, so “yes”
Then so rapidly “no.”
Ah, he isn’t the only one.
I’ve seen that bait-and-switch before. 

The kid, the one I got away from –
That got away from me –
After I had told him all of the good
And none of the bad
(as is my wont.)

Luckily he didn’t kill me.
Knowing him made me stronger?
I doubt it.
Heart is a big muscle.  The wound
Will never heal. 

I’m glad he got away, then. 
Maybe now I’ll stop searching for pain.
Or (an idea!) maybe
I’ll be a poet and
Drench myself in all the elements –
Sorrow being one. 

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