Thirteen Stares

Looking back on the time I spent in the Iraqi village of Safwan, on the border of Kuwait (which is the setting for my novel ONE HUNDRED AND ONE NIGHTS) I realize that a series of poems I wrote at the time comprise a body of really perfect subject matter for this investigation of things that are Not Quite Right.  In their convoluted, stream-of-conciousness way, these poems try to do the same thing as all the prose-postings I’ve put up:  take what seems, at first, to be an odd scene from the Middle East and turn it on its head, hopefully to expose an underlying bit of America’s own abnormality.

The next few items that I’ll post here will all be culled from a chapbook called “13 Stares” that was published by Magic Helicopter Press.

It’s a little something different than the usual, here at NQR.  But maybe, as a means of cultural commentary, the poem surpasses dry, boring old prose and description.

For what it’s worth:  enjoy!

The first of several NQR poems commenting on life in Safwan, Iraq, as a way to comment on absurdly pristine life we lead over here in the West:

Count 'em: thirteen people in Safwan's "Friday" Market gaze into the lens of my camera.

13 Stares

Mallrat munching cinnabon
in striped toe socks giggling your girlfriend
to walk the potted palm length like hopscotch
from Vicky’s Secret to The Buckle and thereby
avoid stepping on the break your mother’s
back of the schoolnight eyelash aglitter
kissing boys with folded triangular notes, O
what do you remember from before your
incarnations in Sicily and Kermanshah?
Long, long to be looked at, girl, long giggling
in your unsatisfied splendor, your quarterly
reportdcards, your healthcare, xBox, jitterfinger,
make toast and cut the crust off, walk to school
unlooked-at and hankering for somehow to escape
suburbanity. Know this: what you want in your secret
heart of notice-me hearts is not what you might
expect it to be, these thirteen stares and the wildboys
who would flee from embarrassment at your growing
ghost, such rapine beauty, America.



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