NO MORE WATER, PARIS
The universe, which is … other people, has evolved no terms for your existence, has made no room for you. — James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time”
(path to) STADIUM
Stadium flashes on a little black screen
and the lovers watch with ease, out of ritual.
In the end, the bombs had been more like
questions, three lines to begin a poem:
Will we matter? It matters
how you treat a body, it matters
where you break the line / the question,
where you pause with pregnant breath,
where you ask for someone to see you.
One lover thinks back
to a childhood away from Paris,
a marketplace full of brown women, lanky boys
who kicked soccer balls as if to practice love.
One lover thinks of the white and green mosque
in the spring, the shape the back makes in prayer,
the bodies all around.
Years ago, in the city,
as they stood waiting for a bus
a boy grabbed a woman from behind,
her hijab in his hand,
explained, calmly, that there was just
a certain idea of living together.
It matters how you treat a body,
and as the stadium became wreckage,
something behind them,
loving would be different now.
But what was love but a kind of sight?
The lovers watched the woman by the bus stop,
her black hair falling past her shoulders
like a tender evening.
They watched the game each Friday
on a green sofa, a blanket on their laps.
But what of watching if no one to return
Both lovers can imagine that some deaths
mean more than others, mean nothing,
some lives know a helicopter is coming for them
some lives watch their little deaths each day
the water in their mouth gone
for all the times they called on God
as the buzz of a white helicopter
muffled His response.
One lover strokes the other lover’s chest,
says why keep watching, they always win.
(path to) LITTLE CAMBODIA
little cambodia don’t exist
without big cambodia, without
old country, without brown people
leaving and others making them real small.
history is dying a small death by laughter:
now little cambodia is a place they come
to eat. what feast. in the small of a kitchen
in the banlieues of paris, a man makes a meal
with his hands,
feeds a woman straight from the banana leaf
with the small of his hand, and she swallows
slow. he says open your mouth and inside
pink of her mouth an opening. some path called
us here. but how did man woman you i us them
look into the small black mouth of a gun and see
our smallness big and bloody, our smallness
lying on the floor amongst broken plates, silverware,
lying on the floor dead,
but if we were being honest,
(path to) BATACLAN
a lover sings blues this morning
but this lover knows no sadness,
just likes the sound of it,
hits each note without intention
the voice wavering,
the voice so imprecise
it could be any song,
any/body singing this blues this morning,
tu peux me voir?
tu es mort?
An introduction to contemporary Ivorian poetry
Edited by Todd Fredson