where the writers are
For Mahmoud Darwish
mahmoud darwish.jpg

He says, on the verge of death, he says,

“I have no more earth to lose”

Free am I, close to my ultimate freedom,

I hold my fortune in my own hands

In a few moments, I will begin my life

born free of father and mother

I will chose letters of sky blue for my name

Mahmoud Darwish, State of Siege





Keep the sky close

within reach, keep it blank

the names of the storytellers

will form in the absence of smoke

the vapor of prayer and fortunes

catalogued next to saints,  teachers

revolutionaries, bread makers and drummers


Keep the sky close above Birwe

for when your family is exiled

we search the expanse for names

of the aborigines, the indigenous,

the lost. Keep the sky close

to memorize the names of the children

and let the sky echo, repeating and repeating

until the settlers cover their ears.


You have searched the cracked shell

of the Beirut sky, violin strings

archery of war -- the remains of a shattered window

a crusty coffee cup, crisscrossed years of predictions

coating the insides, impossible to read

the long walk across the city, counting

the living and the dead


The sky over Ramallah is refrain

and verse, chorus and song we

come back to, an allegiance,

a lullaby, a good bye. Keep it close

to renew each word in your absence

in your presence, stranger

and citizen. Enchant identity

with fire and purpose. Ramallah






Keep the sky close over Cairo

And Moscow where minarets

jab the sphere and domes

raised fist, ideology and memory

there are lessons to learn

in every universe and we shudder

on the edge of knowing, not knowing


How many times can you break

open your heart? How many ways

is writing a surgery that is life-

giving and deadly. The sky above

Houston is charged electric.

Your open heart floats upward

cumulus nimbus, fine mist, thunder

showers us with the azure

chalking of your name, messenger.

Mahmoud, it was much to hold

and I thank your heart and

I kiss the sky.