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Sunday, 15 February 2009

A Meditation Outside the Fertile Grounds Cafe


Ayman just came back from his family
Home in the West Bank. How's the spirit there?
I asked. "Good. Nobody's giving up."
Ayman paused, wiping down the spotless glass top
Of the pastry case one more careful time
Without looking up. Thinking to himself.
"After all, all they want's a little justice."
On the map of the West Bank, that blank space
Just to the left of the town of Bhiddu
Is the village where Ayman's father, one
Of twenty children, was born and raised.
The name of the village means House of Stones
"Because there's a quarry there," but still
It's too small to rate a spot on the map in
The Economist, alongside this story
On the fresh welling up of blood and anger
In my friend's home land, that blank space
Filled with blood and stones. Ayman loves
His trade; in six years he's built from nothing
The coolest little coffee shop on the street;
People like him, he likes them; he makes
Great coffee, his sandwiches are famed, justly;
It's the old American Horatio
Alger Dream, and America's his country.
Every day he gets hundreds of calls
On his cell phone. "But know how many
Calls from people here I take when I'm back
Home?" he smiles. "None. I talk to people
There." And when he goes back home to Beit
Duqqu, America feels far away.
That's the way it feels to me too, but I have
No other home. The photo of the olive tree,
Its roots exposed from the bulldozer cut,
That was up on Ayman's wall last autumn--
Is that a photo of a broken home
Or is it that one's home's always intact
In one's mind as long as one's heart is
Full? I wouldn't begin to know. Tacked
On a phone pole out front of Fertile Grounds
In drifting night mist, a tattered poster
With a picture of a cat's face on it, lost
Near Delaware and Shattuck. It's Momo.
And what's become of poor Momo, now a week
Gone? Tonight, caning into the fog,
I hallucinated a Momo
Sighting downtown. No, just another feral.
Over ferals few sentimental
Tears are shed. A shelter's not a home.
A sanctuary's what everybody needs
These days--the ferals, the street and doorway
People, the drifters in the mist, the bums.
On my way back, as I passed, I saw that
A young Arab girl in headscarf sat weeping
At a table outside Fertile Grounds. Ayman
In his counterman's apron, spick and span,
And Mohamed stood huddled in conference,
Mo holding a cell phone. "She's just lost
Her family, everything," Mo said softly.
"She doesn't have people here. I am
Going to help her." Ayman was talking
To the girl in Arabic, serious, hushed.
Then too Mo, in Arabic, reassuring.
"Don't worry, it will be okay," said Mo--
Switching back to Shattuck Avenue English
For me, the infidel. God is great. May
God bring Momo home if it is His will,
And everybody else along with him,
Whomever that may include--we, living--
And we'll abide in that, and till then hope
That Momo too, pilfering out of the trash
Bins behind the Shattuck eateries,
Will abide likewise. He'll not lack competition.



Zephirine said...

I find these poems about Fertile Grounds, its people and surroundings, are building up to a fascinating group - hope they'll be a new published collection eventually.

Anonymous said...

I imagine Fertile Grounds Cafe as a kind of sanctuary for very special souls =)

TC said...

Yes, it is that.

human being said...

yes... now i have a more distinct image of this place... you... and your friends...

"And when he goes back home to Beit
Duqqu, America feels far away.
That's the way it feels to me too, but I have
No other home."

when i came to these lines tears started to stream down...

this work is so poignant... beatiful as it magically connects all of us to each other...

i always say poetry is the savior... it has saved my country several times and it will save the world... i'm sure...

i wish politicians would read such poetry...

and also poeple... news make them numb to the suffering of others... they hear about and watch the sufferings of others on the news as shows... but poetry involves them...

how can we help people read more poetry like this one here?

think rich people who are concerned should buy poets' books and give them to other people as gifts... and poets should read their poetry wherever they get a chance...

TC said...

human being,

Though I am at a great distance, I think I can understand your tears. Your voice comes across clearly, I am listening.

A voice in the dark city calls... where is this place?

human being said...

and understanding is what we all need as human beings all over the world...

thanks my dear friend for the link... yes as you know, i cannot see it...

it's dark in here
but i hear voices

i hear eyes

i hear the earth

i hear the silence

TC said...


for human being

At the end the shadow stands alone
In the dark clearing waiting

The clocks do not strike as expected
Evening traffic is muted

In the ticking silence
I can hear the calling of the crow

human being said...

thanks a lot Tom...
it really feel so good to be heard...

love to you