03 3 / 2014
Dear Mr. Clem #7
Dear Mr. Clem
Every day, a black bird visits me.
I sit next to a wide window overlooking a sad almost garden. Where I am is the best seat in the house and I am always grateful for it. My county’s capital does not boast a wide collection of trees or greenery and to have those few trees and that patch of land is a blessing. It is always good to count your blessings, so I’ve heard, and I am blessed with an eight hour window of five trees and three bushes, of a fence and a guard with a red cap.
In my country, where we do not boast greenery or beautiful trees, we have an even smaller selection of birds. Our skies have crows, pigeons and small grey birds that adopted the color of smoke that rise from cars on a daily basis.
But this bird visits me every day. this bird, has a jet black head and a white body. He looks brand new every time he comes by, like he was just taken out of his box and still has its shine.
They’re only fleeting seconds; he doesn’t stay and chat really, he just steps on the edge of the window, looks around then flies away. It is as if he ’s checking on me, seeing if I made it to work alright, then flying off to report.
I do not really know who he reports to, where he goes after checking on me or if he has anything to report to me but is only hindered by the closed window, but I feel looked after every time he comes by.
If someone is checking up on me, if this bird is reporting back, how come I lay where I am without news?
I keep waiting for him to tap on my window, to want to stay longer than a second or two. This bird, Clem, is unique, it flies in a place it doesn’t belong, constricted only by the skies it was born in but never was a part of. This bird, with its jet black head and white body, won’t be new forever if it stays here forever.
Much Love, H-
17 2 / 2014
Dear Mr. Clem #6
Dear Mr. Clem
Talking to someone with your literary background and life experiences has been a blessing. Hearing about your travels, your encounters, and your life in general makes you seem like an adventurous character out of the epic stories I spend my life reading on a beanbag in the corner of my room. Although we have met once before and then you seemed like a normal -albeit quirky- guy, now your image is merging into that of a man who was never introduced to the concept of boundaries.
It must be a great feeling…and a lonely one, to walk around vast patches of land, just watching, listening and writing.
You told me that I can do all of that with my pen; with the people around me and the simple walks I take where I am, but it just feels so constricting, so uneventful.
It is a lonely world you live, and mine is lonelier still, but at least yours is full of wonder and novelty and what else could a writer hope for but just that?
I realize that young people feel like getting old is just around the corner and that old people feel they’ve been young for a long time, or was it the other way around? I don’t know, but time for me, Clem, is measured in people; the longevity of a person’s stay in my life, in my mind and in my heart are what measures my age. I feel so old, Clem, so many have gone and I cannot be sure how many would stay.
I measure my time by how long a person stay in my life, my mind and my heart. The three durations are not equal, and I think that may be the problem. Someone can leave my life for good, yet stay in my thoughts. They don’t have to occupy every burst of neuron, but they just show up from time to time as I’m eating or walking or, god help me, writing.
The worst ones, however, are those who occupy my heart even after they leave. It is the worst of storage spaces, the heart, for the ink it uses to write is permanent, fading only to be pushed to the back but never burnt, never shredded, never gone.
It is hard to keep someone in your heart if you’re positive you have never occupied theirs. It is difficult to push them back, to scrub the ink, to shred the paper, to forget them. The worst part, Clem, is when your heart remembers, the alarm that comes along…is crippling.
I hope you’re enjoying your travels, my dear Clem, I hope I am in your heart and on your thoughts as you are in mine.
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05 2 / 2014
Dear Mr. Clem Letter #5
Dear Mr. Clem
I live through my poetry; when they were first born, they used to rhyme perfectly, keeping the rhythm and beat to a steady step. As my life evolved, my poems evolved with me losing their rhymes on the way.
I get bombarded with images and sounds, memories mostly of things i lost and things I know I shall never get back. The problem here is, these things, these losses, are so close to my grasp but can never be reached. It is the human condition, I guess, to almost touch your heart’s desire and never get it, but I have been one of those you hear about who lose only what they love most, and who they love most. It gets to be tiring after a while.
So I write poems, I think it was my brain’s way of dealing with my losses, putting ugly events into beautiful words and getting nothing out of them but the repetition of those memories in my head and their impact on my heart.
I dont know if what am saying right now makes any sense or not. I do not know if poetry evolved or if it only took me by the hand to the realm of those who lay ranting and alone. I know only that I can only see my losses, the people I love, and my memories very crisp and clear, very close, very permanently gone.
There is only one thing the matter of them, the poems I mean. As I write them and share them with the world, I realize that anybody and everybody knows what I am talking about, what my memories are and can count my losses on their hands.
I am drowning in my own poems, Clem; my lifeline is only tied around my throat and I keep pulling at it to save myself.
02 2 / 2014
Dear Mr. Clem #4
Dear Mr. Clem
I live in a city made of roads.
It is not gridded like New York nor circular like Washington; I live in a place where roads have been drawn by a toddler with a crayon and a sugar rush. Weirdly enough, we find a way to get where we want. Of course it does take us three folds the time and hurts us physically, mentally and psychologically, but eventually we get there.
You live here long enough, your mind becomes full of roads drawn by a toddler with a crayon and a sugar rush. But, in my mind, it’s not so easy to maneuver around the busy streets and the surprise bends. In my mind, the roads lead to each other, there are dead ends that won’t budge and sometimes, I break down with no knowledge of the internal engines of myself. I get stuck in the middle of a busy road, being honked at by everyone and everything. I lay down across the street close my eyes and just stay there… broken down.
I live in a city made of mazes.
You see, if you do not know your way, you will find yourself back where you started. Your step will count for nothing, your time wasted, your chest constricted with frustration, worry and loss.
It is not gridded like New York nor Circular like Washington, but drawn with the careful mess of having you twist and turn at every corner until you realize there might not be a way out.
Mazes are tricky little things. In order to solve them, win them, get out of them, whatever you want to call you, you have to step back. You have to look at everything as a whole, gain a little thing called perspective and solve it with an air of objectivity. I can’t do that, Clem, I get too attached to every detail to be objective. I can’t do that.
Whoever drew the maze in my brain was an expert, knowing how exactly to lead me where I was in a time I least expected it. It twists me around so fast and so much that I forget the endings, remember the beginnings and get lost on what happened in between.
I get stuck on people. I get stuck on what they said, how they looked like, and how they said it. I hold them to it, to the way they made me feel, to how I think they felt around me. Mazes, Clem, take me around and back to where I started, wishing for time passed to return, waiting for them to return, missing them.
I’m stuck in my maze, dear Clem, and I don’t think if there is a way out, or if they have a maze of their own.
Much Love, H-
01 2 / 2014
Dear Mr. Clem #3
Dear Mr. Clem
It is a hard thing to know someone so well that they become second nature to you. You see, when you know the sound of somebody’s voice as they wake up, when you’ve heard them scream and when you’ve seen them smile, you get attached to them in a way that you can’t form with other people.
I used to wake up really late.
Sleep was a friend I had made my peace with long ago, so I never woke up early unless i had to. When I woke up, I woke up to words. This age we live in makes it very easy to reach someone, easier to write how you feel using the perfect words… I used to wake up to words.
When words failed, I reverted to Bell’s method. And even though the voices muffled from the lingering residue of my sleep, it made my dreams seem futile.
We knew each other like second nature. It took less time than it was supposed to; it was easy, as if it was missing and found not formed new.
I think that people were made in bulk, batches of dolls that were designed together with the same passions and scattered across countries and eras. They search for each other and once found they give it the names that seem easier to them “friendship, family, love”. These names were only made to keep us sane, to make some sense and understand what it is that drew us to someone, to a group, to a place, to a sound.
You and I, Clem, we came from the same batch, though you were made a couple of decades before me. Him and I, Clem, were made consecutively.
Sleep and I are no longer on the same terms. I expect too much from it now; I still think that I would wake up to words and when I wake up to silence, I hold it responsible.
I learned silence too, It came in and replaced sleep. Now I wake up too early to silence and something missing that can’t be formed new.
30 1 / 2014
Dear Mr. Clem Letter 2
January 30, 2014
Dear Mr. Clem
Today I saw a painting breath. It was a picture of a woman who looked tired and weary. The canvas rose up and deflated with each look she gave me. she wanted me to do something, Clem, she wanted me to act in a way that suited her. I felt like I had to bow or curtsy or lift my hat up for her.
I did not know whether doing something like that in public would land me with just a few weird looks or with a trip to the loony bin. it’s just that i felt like I was supposed to do something to answer her. she breathed so heavily, Clem, like all her breaths came in loud, disappointed sighs.
I stood in front of her, trying to figure out what could have gotten her to be so weary. Was it time, the ages passed as she collected dust from the lucky wind that passed her by, greeted her, then left with its tongue out to tease her? Was she sad because she wanted to go all over the world, wanted to be famous and display in museums everywhere?
Was it love? was she like the eons of women all over space and time who got left behind by someone she thought loved her? maybe he was charming, I would imagine her fall for someone who knew how to respect her and woo her at the same time. He would have been one of those people who walked with an air of wonder, he would have looked in a way that made her feel like she only existed. He would have, for a little while, been in love with her…just not enough.
I think, it could be all those things. She would want more, of herself, of him, of the wind and I think that’s what’s making her sigh so heavily.
But Clem, of all the disappointments she’s seen, I think, God help me, that she was disappointed in me.
30 1 / 2014
Dear Mr. Clem
Dear Mr. Clem.
I would like to thank you for allowing me to write you. It is, without a doubt, a privilege that you agreed to correspond with me. I should imagine that with our differences in age, place and time you would have refused my humble request. But as you put it “writers exist in one plane, we were put on earth in different times to remind the masses that beauty can be observed, created and infused in our souls, but we all are siblings differing only in our time of existence”
I cannot put my words so eloquently as you do, sir, but I try my best to paint you pictures that you would consider beautiful.
Allow me to take up your time through simple letters scribbled on paper that would, thankfully, make their way to you.
23 1 / 2014
I will hide you
In the corners
Of my mind.
Cover you with silk
And only call on you
When I can no longer handle
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19 1 / 2014
I went to him
I went over to where he sat
Where he read
Where he took long drags from a dying cigarette.
He smiled a smile so wide it reeked of sincerity
I am not a painter but if I could
I would only paint pictures of the smoke that rose in ringlets and twirls
from between his fingers, flying and dissipating into thin air but lingering
only as a wall between us and between the curls of my hair.
I knew the place well, we sat in the middle of a desert I invented in the
folds of a mind that was barely there, surrounded only by my perception of a make believe reality.
His face blurred with each drag he pulled, morphing from one person to another but still keeping his features.
I couldn’t tell anymore if the smoke was coming from him or from the burning strokes my pencil made as I tried to record his face before it changed again.
I went to him.
I willed my legs to follow my mind even though all three of us knew I was going to a blank page.
I was traveling to a story not yet written and he was sitting there, reading it, waiting for me.
The cover was ancient, brown, tattered leather and pages yellow.
The ink faded at the edges of pages not yet broken from the bodies of trees.
He lit another cigarette, burning ash lungs and paper Waiting for me
I went to him.
I was surprised I knew the way
I found a map on the back of my hand
Drawn in grey ash and lingering smoke
I found a book in my bag, tattered leather and pages yellow.
As I opened it, it poured sand from a desert I invented in my mind and pieces of trees not yet broken.
I found a chair, and as I took it, we waited for the wall to clear.
I saw a glimpse of him, his smile showed with the stench of a sincerity I knew to be a mirage.
He reached for me and as he tried to touch my hand, I began rising and dissipating into thin air
Disappearing in the ringlets and twirls of his smoke,
Lingering only for him to see me Walk away.
07 1 / 2014
She got so lonely
The light around her
Got broken hearted
Rings of darkness
From her bedsheets
To the house pet
Light refused to show up
It came nowhere near her
Lest it be broken
By her loneliness