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Monday, April 10, 2006



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I Always Knew That
(Loving Outside the Prism)

itís 2006 march 28th
iím sitting in a corner on the 6 train to 68th Street
itís another evening out
i always knew i liked
being out and alone like an ostracized patriarch
i donít like
associating being out and free with being ousted and homeless.

i always knew that i loved the City
can someone who doesnít live in the city love it
i only work in the city
it merely must be infatuation.

and to think how iíve loved train tracks all this time
whether straight and silent in the station
rats skirting in and out of sideline holes
or whether stretched out and sinking into the suburban horizon
i know people are divided by which side of the tracks they live on
i know the sibilant, pacifying sound of passing freight trains usher ed through the night
i know of the transient wanderlust they inspire
i know of ballast fights, handfuls thrown by prepubescent boys, establishing their territory much like Neanderthals threw dolostone two hundred thousand years before them
and how boys will continue to likewise assert themselves for thousands of years to come.

i always knew i loved the sound of the metropolis in motion
clamoring and clunking like taxis streaming over manholes at midnight
the weight of parenting aching my back
stuck in my matrimonial prism, i wrote volumes to lament my durance
there i heard the voice of destiny
not from the white light, but from the piebald other side
sheís beating me with the rules again
i always knew i loved the freedom to think
and often wondered and imagined what it was like outside the prism
liberating thoughts flourishing in gardens of death made me wander

in between gravestones
i catch my breath and then dive in again
spending the currency of life as it ought to be spent, living
loving in fearless abandon of why and when, of reason
of high-minded morals, the laurels of those who do not live

i knew i loved women
bare breasts fondled during daydreams
wafts of serotonin overcome me as we approach Grand Central Station,
42nd Street, New York, New York
ďI want to be a part of it, New York, New York these vagabond shoes are longing to stray and make a brand new start of it New York, New YorkÖĒ where, in mid-august 1990 i walked twenty blocks in tight-toed black cowboy boots
from the Olympus bus stop to the 23rd Street hostel, carrying a weekís worth of luggage
little did I know that one should travel lightly

although i always knew i loved to travel
metros, airplanes, automobiles.
Feyzaís in the backseat of the bus headed to Boston, Mass
Massachusetts spelled out of course
both of us bleary-eyed but smiling,
happy to be traveling together again
the heavy noise of fractured lives left behind fade with the steady roar
a rrrrrur of wheels turning, burning rubber slowly on the road
i have never known anyone so intimately in my life
iíve yet to get mugged in the city, i am 38 and
iíve yet to be victim to any crime.
recently, iíve lost a number of things, thinking
they might have been stolen
alas, its my memory thatís cheating me, stealing life as I go.
my unusually bad memory may be to blame, but it also is the catalyst of extraordinary creativity
iíve written this somewhere, somehow, before
lamenting, justifying, accepting my self
i often forget
so maybe i really never wrote it.
maybe i read it before i could remember
as an eight-year old boy chucking rocks at the wayward boys
asserting themselves from the other side of the tracks.
milkweed grew out of the limestone that lined those tracks,
sprouting feral between parallel lines of shiny steel and the ten foot fence,
black, yellow and pearl striped caterpillars nestled there,
restlessly feeding on sticky white cream, writhing so it seemed, eager to leave
their prisons of skin, dreaming of being monarchs, knowing they always loved to fly
free, gleefully, faithfully fulfilling their destinies as rulers of the sky.
it is hard not to be happy when i think of them, reminiscing, missing the idyll idleness
of eight;
remembering all the flesh of purple figs I ate, almost smelling the redolence of backyard citrus fruit trees; feeling the California sunshine that nourished them and me.

under windswept palm trees i kissed Feyza.
the sea breeze touched her hair, I could taste candied coconut upon the tip of her tongue
i wanted to touch her breasts all day long
i swirled her around, alone, in the moonlit pool instead
i was 38 then, it felt as if I were 13 again.
i always knew i loved her
sheís the one who sent me letters from the other side.

i sent her cutouts of blue butterflies in return
and books of notes inspired by stories noting the tropical woes of them
i always knew i loved butterflies
Nabakov loved them too.

i have many questions for lepidopterists
how many colors of them are there
do monarchs color the eucalyptus, the cypress and the pine - orange
how many can nest in a single tree, how many trees do you need to rest a weary migration
into their arrested states of winter sleep
in sixth grade i saw photos of them in National Geographic, millions amassed into branches
overlooking the summery seas of Mťxico and Monterey
iíve always wanted to see them, rest myself underneath their huddled shadows
soothed by tiny breaths, an occasional fluttering like a somnolent human shuttering, limbs shaking into slumber
seeing these pictures i always knew i loved butterflies.

59th Street, Lexington Avenue flashed past, a blur of white letters blending in with the never-ending plaque of advertisements
subliminal dots of public service poetry spot the passing whir of platform color
i always knew i loved poetry

people paint themselves in pixels inside my camera
some laughing, a few, one or two making funny noises, most silently
withering, weathering the grind of diurnal tedium, dumb routine, numbing obligation
in California people smile while riding buses, not much of a need to go underground
i always knew i loved people
including the grumpy ones
they give the City its character

i always knew i loved thinking about what theyíre thinking
believing i knew
believing that reading minds was a mindless game
because what i knew was already too much
maybe i donít know that much
maybe i do

i always knew i liked eating
feeding Feyza while she feeds me
cous cous, hummus, bites of cheese
evil truffles and chocolate-easy temptations
revelations of meant to be in each and every morsel
communal yearning churning thoughts of fate
even when iím not hungry
iím hungry now. it is hard not to be hungry
when i know iím going to see her. thinking of her always generates yearning
amorous desire firing up every want a man could have
i yearn to get off this train.

the train screeches to a stop and an alluring voice resounds over the intercom
ď68th Street/Hunter CollegeĒ
knowledge can be a beautiful thing
especially when you know youíre about to see her.
i always knew i loved beautiful things
i always knew i loved knowing
i always knew that someday i would be released from my prism
to know and experience and feel and love all that i always loved.

i always knew that.

April 10, 2006

Afflatus: Things I Didn't Know I Loved by Nazim Hikmet


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