Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away. Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance - Carl Sandburg..........Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject - John Keats .........Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge - William Wordsworth ..........Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand - Plato .........No man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher. For poetry is the blossom and the fragrance of all human knowledge, human thoughts, human passions, emotions, language - Samuel Taylor Coleridge .........One demands two things of a poem. Firstly, it must be a well-made verbal object that does honor to the language in which it is written. Secondly, it must say something significant about a reality common to us all, but perceived from a unique perspective. What the poet says has never been said before, but, once he has said it, his readers recognize its validity for themselves - W. H. Auden ...........Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash - Leonard Cohen .........There is a pleasure in poetic pains which only poets know - William Cowper .........Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood -T. S. Eliot ..........Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason - Novalis...........He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life - George Sand .........A poem is never finished, only abandoned - Paul Valery ........A poet is a bird of unearthly excellence, who escapes from his celestial realm arrives in this world warbling. If we do not cherish him, he spreads his wings and flies back into his homeland - Kahlil Gibran.............Poetry should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance - John Keats..........To be a poet is a condition, not a profession - Robert Frost........A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself - E. M. Forster.........Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo - Don Marquis...........Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things - T. S. Eliot ..........You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it tick. You're back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in - Dylan Thomas .........Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words - Paul Engle......... There is not a joy the world can give like that it takes away! Lord Byron

Chiggers

A story by Dr. Aziz Al-Tamimi.

Translated from Arabic by Ruqaia Kanaan

The upper part is a dish called the sky, or letís name it the cover. The bottom part is a kind of plains, elevations and galleries leading sight to no use. The surrounding part is a pot populated by chiggers, walls, silence, and echo of military marching. Here in my pocket, lies a louse which laid millions of snakes or louses or maybe some other creatures within my imagination that has been infected by endless images and anticipations.

What is still left, are the axis and the origin point in a space which is empty from Galileo deviation before his execution. Some wall is being laid in the thick darkness. The piece of land where I sit on is invaded by chigger armies. Their number cannot be determined. They have mythical skeletons. I imagined them for a moment to be enormous dinosaurs with distorted looking as it seems from my point of view. They used to occupy my seat and irritate me in a different way than they did in the previous day. I could not speak since my tongue became incapable few years ago. I could not move as well because my hands and legs had lost their sense of moving due to the factors of anesthesia and dry nerves, or simply because I got too sensitive from the _expression ďmoving is prohibitedĒ. Hurrying breaths performing breaking, losses, and gasp are moving in an exhausted box. At some moment, the door slides. Alongside with it, go thousands of light years and thousands of refused questions and dreams which dare not raise their heads higher than the level of my shoe; that shoe which I thought it was part of my foot skin or half foot cut by a mortar shot. 

The door slides. Alongside, moves the time which oxidized and I got unable to feel it by its physical concept. The door slides and I think itís the change, the failure of day/night protocol. I wished to get any change in my spot where I used to sit.

The door slides. I feel relief. I asked myself once, why do I get merry whenever I expect a movement of a virtual door which may not exist outside my memory?

I answered my self that I saw a closed door in some place. Here I expect it to move and it does actually. It gave a low sound like a cough or a bad word I got to hear all the time. Later, I said someone has gag in my pocket. I mean one of those chiggers whom I saw jumping to my chest with his red color. I thought the reason was decay of my blood but this caused me to be slapped by a chigger who transformed to a giant cockroach when he got some information about my desire to change my blood. My eyes widened for the surprising news; how could that bastard know about this desire? I trembled for the idea of many slaps if he knew that I dreamed once to transform into a dog in the palace of the presidentís wife. I got scared for possible impacts of this dream since I know well what a national security related dream could mean; I know well what explanations it could take. I trembled badly. Even some of my leather cells broke. I thought: what if he knew that I pissed on the republican guard leader picture? The leader who loves the presidentís wife?

The door moved again, much strongly this time. It made an angry sound. My heart moved with it. My heart moved in violence as if a thick hand had captured it and pulled it outside my chest or even squeezed it to take all the remaining blood and beat from it. My bad anticipations increased. Someone lighted a Marlboro cigarette, inserted it between his lips and pushed it between his carbonated teeth. He was visible from the narrow space he squeezed his body within. He was standing, his right hand on his waist while the other hand was holding the edge of the door which I donít remember its color anymore. I forgot how it looks and wished to stay so but that rude chigger who tried to suck my blood by force, made me remember. Remembering was despite my desire since I used to refuse. When he gets despaired, he used to spit on my face before he hides in hair jungles which cover my skin since Adam was exiled from heaven. Just since that day, hair and chiggers used to grow heavily despite my trials, which preceded my coming to this place one thousand light years ago, to stop chiggers increase and greed. I give up when I remember their greed in violating good behaviors. I used to smile when I saw them watching me in theft while I was having sex with my neighborsí daughter who missed marriage due to lack of men who died heavily in continuous wars. Moreover, I got astonished when one of those chiggers dared to describe the body of my beloved girl which I used to envy air for touching her hair. He made fun of me whenever he felt my desire to imagine a woman. He described me a silly impotent. I used to get angry and touch my manhood member. How strange those chiggers are! I wondered and my skull cracked since these chiggers can inspect my feelings and even the intellectual thoughts which flow in the memory even before they get shaped in a physiological event. Add to this, chiggersí ability to transform from a shape to another. Sometimes I see them giant cockroaches. Sometimes I see them as barking dogs who barks all the time and bite with fierce fangs. Sometimes I feel them blind louses snaking in all my body parts. In many times, I felt them and lived scary moments like talking nightmares which made me unable to focus.

Accordingly, I used to talk to myself realizing for sure that chiggers are hearing my words. I used to chatter or keep speculating. The chiggersí leader used to ask me about my bethinking. He used to appear in specific times to count number of times I dreamt and the number of times I thought trying to know what things around me are or the truth of the place where I found my self in. Actually, I lied earlier when I talked about things around me. I could not be sure of things around me or even the place. Once, they told me that I exist in more than one place and more than one time. I did not understand what they meant and was too miserable since I wished to be outside to see the failure of our tribe Sheik who gave an order to kill me just because coffee flew without my intention on the tail of his cloak. It was when I was a servant in his guest hall. I anticipated things but I discovered different things from chiggersí talk. I expected the place to be a big room with wooden windows but I discovered it was just a metal box designed carefully to contain all creatures that fly, creep or walk. One of their agents, who was with me in the box for his suspicious business, told me that this box was invented by a genius scientist. He told me that the scientist earned a certificate for this invention. I wondered and found it strange to get an invention certificate for making a metal box! How? And what is the secret of this box? I remembered the words of my poor colleague who makes sounds I never heard before. He said this box has the ability of changing things identity. I did not understand his words and just repeated the sentence. I asked him again; at that time, my tongue was still healthy. He assured me that this box is one of the modern scientific creativity and it has the ability to transform a man to any other creature. I got scared realizing the size of cockroach or chigger that I can imagine. After that, the poor man disappeared. Later, I knew it was over; he turned into a chigger.

I was not able to keep unmasking my lies about fact of the place because someone shocked me with a scream froze my memory. The door was shut strongly crashing my dream that grew sometime earlier. Again, my being was shook with the door movement. That door struck caused my insomnia. After thousands of light years, I began to feel again that the world is still exists. Chiggersí words made fun of me again whenever I brought a naked girl into my imagination. Thousands years later, cockroaches and chiggers began to treat me friendly after I started to walk on four and my voice disappeared in vanishing tones. My tongue became too long since I used it to wet my body. So, I discovered the fact of the place, my self, and the fact of things.

Things were not darkness and silence or even decayed walls with corners full of bugsí eggs. Things were skeletons of human bodies and pieces of words. All were transformed in the box oven to glue polluting the place. I am hearing an angry voice cursing. In my memory the image of a diseased spider appears. The spider started to examine his legs after a long sleep. He was turning around all the time while he did so. He was forced to count his legs in the opposite way. He starts by one and always forgets when he reaches eight. He is suffering since years and till now he cannot be sure of the count of his legs. I thought: it could be the curse of the metal box which was designed by some genius who sits right now on a chair in one of the ministries in the state of metal boxes.

Most important, the sound vanished again. Car horn and exhaust disappeared too. Moving of that poor spider disappeared too or to be more specific, I could not hear him any more. One silly chigger dared to enter my nose and scratch its inside. Another one got into my mouth. A third one snaked to my anus. Others attacked in between my legs and played their hobbies. I used to sense their movement in my inwards. They always do that boring theatric performance. They dance on my back. Recently, one of the chiggers told me they intend to check my memory. I cursed those chiggers who mess with everything. I insisted that my body is most chaste and since I talked loudly describing chiggers to be low-minded, I was supposed to expect their inspection of my memory. I forgot or acted like I forgot his speech that frightened me. I remember I dreamt a lot. I made love with my neighborís daughter many times when chiggers left my body someday. I cursed the genius man who invented that box. I expected another picture of the place where I am. I expected it to be an open can. I expected the surrounding to be a garbage place. I expected to see the pictures of the president to be touched by female chimpanzees after having sex every night. I did much anticipation. I began to tremble now and I can say that all what I said about the place and the box was a matter of fun. I can say that all my words are suspected. Even my imagination can no longer be useful to be explored. I can say that the earth is not circular as astronomical scientist claim. I can say chiggers are strange creatures. They deserve to piss in any nose. Even the spider I talked about did not exist. It was just a lie I created to get rid if anguish of chigger and cockroach masters. I can say the upper part is only the upper with no need for description. I can say that the lowest side is just the lowest side. Despite knowing many things about being lower and lowness, I did not and wonít speak. Inspecting memory would mean more aggressions. Before I force my imagination to darkness, before I stop my memory, I can say that the place was a chair which its legs go deeply in the ground. The chairís top is full of million of chiggers who swim in my blood.

Translator note:

Aziz Al-Tamimi: an Iraqi novelist and short story writer lives in USA. Lately, He got his PhD in IT Management. He published two story collections in Iraq 1993 and Lebanon 2000, in addition to two novels in Jordan 2004, 2006. He is considered as one of the well known Arab writers who write modern and fantasy stories.

 

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