Friday, May 30, 2008


It is not like Africa here. In the city center but to capture the moment of walking through he square, the three women squeeze onto the stone bench warmed with the sun, the old men sit on the very edge, stubbornly clinging. It's the end of the day and the sky its too blue for my sunglasses.
we sit and eat olives
pigeons rush by the man wearing red pom=pom hat, leather pouch of water slung over his shoulder.
We rush to Marrakesh, snarls of prickly pear cactus border the houses jaunted together with tin and plastic sheets weighted with loose bricks
The houses are pink concrete awash in white crumbles.
the square: women sit on the grass with jalaba knees clasped in hand.

Through traffic we head south in a ice box bus.
When we stop at a truck stop we eat tajeen with buttery lamb, fresh figs, icy Coke in bottles.

The woman with henna stained hands: thick dark blood of it crawling up five fingers
her dress covering, is pink and grey, sparkled thread runs through it,
her scarf pink around her face,
her eyes sunk in cohl,
her feet slippered into blue dark blue, scuffed, bent at the pointed tip.
Her husband sleeps with his chin in his hand, holding his head in place while the train rocks us to Marrakesh.
His long scruffy jalaba the color of drying grass,

Talking on the cellular phone,
staring into the square's center where tourists pose with the pigeons.

The end of the day in this between place,not hot not cold, no clouds.
Cars fighting through people, people finding their way.

pneumonia blue
crisp curl green
fried dry
sauteed/ heat/ color

Marrakesh. May

it rains here in the afternoon. heavy iron clouds crowd away the eye-straining blue.
the air conditioners him, curtains pulled against the heat. the kids from Belgium, pink skinned again and again jump from the pool's edge sloshing the deck.
later when night comes on, the bats will come swooping through, sluicing above. the momma cat and her three babies will venture out hunt for scraps of dropped burger, tuna from the Moroccan salad, lapping up spilled diet Coke.

Sig, Algeria
The Prophet's Birthday

These shuffled shelves,
messy blue silk pajamas,
the perfumes and eggy creams crowding the bureau is a gift to me in
these empty hours to fold, one into another.
Outside the streets fill with rain
Children run, Apaches slamming their boom-boom crackers
just below my windows: yellowed, shuttered.

When I first visit Algeria, I have two years of classical or fushah Arabic under my belt. It does me no good whatsoever. Everyone laughs at me when I try to communicate in a language that is ONLY heard spoken by newscasters. The dialect I am thrown into has nothing to do with classical Arabic. The verbs are shaved down, the tenses mean little, even the "I" form of verbs is not the same.
As if this isn't bad enough, the vocabulary is completely different. Verbs, nouns, adjectives: I recognize almost none of them except "big" and "small". Great. I'm fucked.

These are the words that I tried to learn first in the Algerian Arabic, on my first visit to Algeria, in 2003:
Watch out!
Hey you!
Be careful! I'll get you!
Where is the bathroom?
He cries
I know, he knows
Go! Get away!
Get out! GO!
Above, below
The way
Like this
Les couche, diaper
I remember
He cries
Is crying
he smiles
All the time

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