For this music-impression poem, I used an album entitled, Taqasim: Improvisation in Arab Music (UPC 7 44457 73742 2). The composers/performers are Ali Jihad Racy and Simon Shaheen. This is magnificent music, full of energy, and unmistakably Arabic–I recommend it to anyone! The poem was included in the August edition of my writers’ group’s monthly newsletter–and one of my fellow members said it was my best yet.
Taqasim: Improvisation in Arab Music
This humble gravestone vibrates as one amidst Stonehenge, or on the Egyptian or Mayan pyramids might. Every stone vibrates, I suppose. This stone is not alive. And it’s not the deceased who vibrates it. It’s the mason, the maker of the stone. He poured his energy into every grain, and his energy remains. I see her among stone columns, a dark woman in a bright land–or a fair woman in a dark one. She I can see, yet cannot touch. So I distract myself with the hawk that hits my living-room window, in error–and with the stray kittens I take to the cat orphanage, to protect them from the hawk. The hawks that grace my lawn are drawn to me, I would like to believe. How presumptuous! For I know it’s the squirrels, the songbirds, and the occasional rats to which they’re drawn.
Pour me not a glass of tequila, but a cup of coffee–here in this Mexican space I revisit, Juarez, which could just as easily be Persian. How strange in my hypertensive state that I prefer the killing coffee to the calming tequila. For that which powers me to write most wildly could render me powerless to write at all–I swallow spit, at the thought. What vibrations saturate my skin, as strings are plucked like plums! Sometimes they sound like motors revving in the distance of space, or voices calling in the distance of time–or heartbeats amplified twenty times over.
What of the steeple, the minaret, the pagoda? Each points skyward, as if toward the Creator of the sky. Yet so does the oak, the pine, and the bamboo stalk. There is something higher here. Some try to deny it, most try to define it. But few realize that human arrogance is simply ignorance.