TWENTY FIVE

For rain, he’d say a prayer.

I’m earth. I’m bare. Come fill my cracks. Come grow on my field of belly blades of grass.

A wailing cat caught in a trap left in the heat. Caught on a hook — the blinding eye, the sands of wheat. A little drunk. Bring down the rain as if you care.

Let it tattoo insects on my tongue. Electrifying, as when you spit. Inside my mouth rivers run dry. Let it come.

So he”d pray. Then he’d kneel to drink the rain.

TWENTY FOUR

We can call them escargot if you want, but they are still snails. I pull them out with toothpicks. Red sauce drips on the tablecloth. Even on my dress. Complete lack of etiquette.

There is a pile of empty shells on my plate and a couple of bay leaves. A pile of skulls and what remains of their laurel wreaths.

I feel victorious after a long time.

TWENTY THREE

There is no beauty in autumn — not in this kind. Think of peeling paint, colours chipped off as in badly done fingernails. This falling, falling one by one to the ground, disappearing. One year, two years, three years… a dragging season.

Or an infested blister, growing, swelling: begging at street corners, looking for food in dustbins. That woman lying on the street; that man who tried to jump in front of the metro.

I don’t want to feel anything. I am still holding on. I know I’ll be next.

On the fourth year the blister bursts. Primary feeling: relief. Consequent thoughts: the winter will be long — brace yourself; the battle will be hard — keep it to yourself.

 

TWENTY TWO

We sit under the shade of an ancient plane tree tightly hugged by ivy. A few meters away runs a stream. My kind of place.

I’m not talking. I’m crying.

It’s not because I’m sad. Or because I have nothing better to do.

It’s the only thing to do.

I’ve hidden the words for so long I forgot where they are. Even if I find them, they won’t make sense. There will be no syntax. Even the letters will be mixed up. Everything would come out as a scream, as the night looking for a meal.

So I cry the words. All this past decade almost turned me to stone.

You don’t have to say anything. Or do anything. I only want to know it’s okay to cry. No censorship. No correction. No arguments against how I feel. Nothing. Silent, like the grass beneath us.

When I’m finished, we can go somewhere to eat.

Shell and Seed – Basilike Pappa

Back to FVR.

FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

As hereditary relations set the dinner table 

unresolved issues (like chasmodia) 

are best not mentioned 

An electronic hum (sound without footsteps)

stops when it goes to sleep

everyone be quiet or else

No one asks you anything (when do flowers moon?)

Even within the same script

ghosts pushed under the carpet

Sweeping and me don’t mix

so the verse is made tangible

because of what’s under my skin (un- / dis- / in-)

Prepare scenes and dialogue

survival must be theatrical (watch out for grammatical shifts)

always hide what you write

And wait– 

slowly

firmly

deep

the beast of spring awakes inside a peach


Basilike Pappa is a bookmonger and a wordcubine. She believes that in poetry an image must montage the mind with false cognates, and that god is sun on a copper coffee pot. Her prose has appeared in Life & Art MagazineIntrinsick and Timeless Tales

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TWENTY ONE

The drums are earth, the ney is wind and I am cymbals, shimmies, the tiniest shivers, motes of dust caught in a ray of light, hip swerves, my skirt swirling. 

Fire and water, straight and bent, I balance them, play with them like a baladi woman with a stone and an egg.

It takes control to draw the eights of infinity, and even more for the dum/dum/tek-a-tek/dum-tek-a-tek. Tendonitis says forget the zils; I curse its mother, then keep whirling.

 

TWENTY

They keep their value in strange places – canals, beds, between the legs. Goat herders turned civil servants.

They try to correct me. They hurt themselves, then say it’s me.

I howl with the wolves with whom I wish to be. I don’t mind what they tell the trees. We have the woods in common.

 

NINETEEN

Past the needles, the hanging rope

the broken windows, the love-hate calls

past the withered flowers, the shut down shops

the old factories, the sarcophagus

no one watches us; no one bothers us.

 

We’ll keep going side by side.

EIGHTEEN

I could have been killed.

The first time I wasn’t even born. The bus skidded off the road.

The second time speeds intertwined; rush and reel; wheels swishing by.

But here I am. Chance or bigger plan?

It doesn’t matter. Long may it last.

SEVENTEEN

Your life belongs to us.

Your body belongs to us.

Your mind belongs to us — tell us what you’re thinking.

Your dreams belong to us — tell us what you’re dreaming.

Be happy, girl. A frown is disrespect.

Be more of this and less of that. Like everybody else.

You hold us in your hands. Don’t fail us. Don’t forget.