En-Gulfed, a poem by David Lohrey at Spillwords.com
Ralph Nas



written by: David Lohrey


The entire city is enveloped in a gigantic cloud of dust.
Winds from the Gulf are being driven into the city,
or so it seems. But the sands are not grainy;
it is more like a cloud of foundation, not a Haboob,
as it is called,
but a REVLON, or a Maybelline.
It is a storm of face powder, a blast of makeup,
bellowing forth from as far as the eye can see;
no doubt, set in motion by the gods, preparing us
for a great performance of Noh.

Like chalk, it coats everything.
It comes in through the cracks beneath the doors
and right through the windows.
There is no stopping it.
Little drifts pile up on the floor along the walls.
Cars remain coated, dusted like those lost to time
and found in barns. It creates a haze for days.
I never figured out the difference between a dust storm
and a sandstorm; couldn’t tell you to save my life.
It suits the ubiquitous scruffy look of my peers.

They leave their tied ties dangling at the navel;
they sport tattoos of flipped Chinese characters;
there’s their unexplained tardiness, their frequent absences,
without apology: and the key is that they are overlooked,
excused, allowed, even encouraged. Fuck it!
In my first years of teaching, all males
wore ties at all times in the classroom buildings;
by my second, men wore ties every day except on casual Fridays.
Recently, no ties, ever. Tennis shoes, sweats, unshaven: Fuck them!
Every day is casual Friday, and there IS no going back.

That children wear uniforms throughout the world – makes one
wonder why America alone has to be slob city.
(I am beginning to sulk. My mother could always spot it.)
Malik was enslaved to his bottomless bottle of red wine.
–Is it racist to say my Arab boyfriend an alcoholic? He believes
we are all given a choice between death and unhappiness.
Choose misery, and Allah will let you live forever. As long as you
remain unhappy, death will pass you by. The grim reaper takes one look
and picks someone else, perhaps this time a sweet eleven-year-old
boy who’s been trampled and left to drown in a puddle of camel’s urine.

I removed his earpiece.
He had been listening to Louis Armstrong’s
“Cornet Chop Suey.” He is a morose figure.
I find his unraveling elegance disarming.
He is so unlike anyone else I have ever known.
I sit crushed, pouting. I feel lonely, but also, free.
Like a braid, my favorite hair style…a tight weave…
my favorite loaf, the cardamom twist…once proved,
impossible to separate, but sure to rise.
Something makes me think of something Malik said,
“All brides are groomed; isn’t that what honeymoons are for?”

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