i will not measure
or tame or deny
the brilliance of joy
or sadness.

i will let it glow
while i sit inside it
and say,

i am here

. . .

i am here

. . .

i am alive.

what is more gifting than that...
and the presence of your love, my love?



after a truth:

you cried

the tears fell
from your eyes
like droplets
of liquid glass

and i…

i wiped them
with my fingers

cool fingers…
by the heat
of the agony
off your face

warm heart…
by the frost
of the storm
in your soul



another unsent letter…

Dear W.,

You told me your darkest secret. And now you won’t look at me. You’re avoiding me, and it’s disturbing. And it’s surreal. 

I didn’t ask for this confidence. I didn’t know. It was that intimate moment we shared, wasn’t it? It was that thing that happens when two are together in a silence that holds them and binds them with invisible glue. The closer they come, the less they see one another.

You could’ve held your tongue. But you wanted to tell. Needed… to tell. Your secret was too heavy a load to bear. You needed my arms so you could stay afloat. Or was that just a desire for you to share the burden… the blame?

Now we exchange hellos with measured degrees of regulation. I, with a halting smile. You, with a tremor in your hands.

Will I never glimpse my smile in your eyes again? Will your fingers always rattle at the sight of my approach? Will you never acknowledge that I might forget? Maybe? One day?

But, the harder I try to forget, the stronger your confession rings inside my bones.




she said,
do you remember when we . . . ?

i said,
i don't.

she chattered away
about one memory 
and the other,

her voice fluttering
like the wings of
a disoriented moth,

trapped within the
confines of what 
it does not know.

she said,
do you remember when we . . . ?

i said,
i don't.

i thought how sinister
how odd
the feeling of oblivion,

like a blind foot 
misplaced upon
an unyielding crack,

voluntary or not
but obscuring, always 
the sanctity of memory.

but, what delusion!
i tell myself now.

there is no such thing
as oblivion.

there is no such thing
as a seamless seam.

there is no such thing
as sweeping things out
and shutting the door.

there is always a keyhole
a peephole
a crack.



for the alleviation of angst:
take one deep, conscious breath.

it is that simple, yes.

key word to bear in mind:

this is where the difficulty lies.



we came together
one last time with chocolate
cake and breakfast tea beneath
a dripping awning on the big town square
and it took me a stretch to comprehend how
fragile the moments, like looming
mirages, and we, like tiptoes
navigating quicksand



i'll nurse my kiss-bruised lips
with yours



i drove home last night
while humming to the sound of the wind.

some existential elation held me high.

and i stayed inside it
while it lifted me higher,

and swept me along
in invisible indulgence.

and last night,
i slept!

and today i write about that slumber
as if it was an event.

it was.

after countless restless
sleepless nights filled
with reading
with thinking
with writing
with breaking life down
into miniature fragments,

exhaustion drew me
into her arms,

pulled my eyes shut
with pillowed fingers,

and said, sleep.
sleep... and then awaken.

and i slept
and awakened
and understood:

only the awakened
are free.



and today
and tomorrow

new intentions
like many before
like many to come


by the hope they will not falter
by the hope they will not shatter
by the hope they will not be compromised

setting new priorities
yet knowing the truth

and knowing
yet still denying



on this glimmering night of late november
while you undress yourself with ceremony
my eyes lock upon the undressing of the sky
her breasts undulating in quiet certainty
(radiating in their own breathless awakening)
her sex pulsing in rushed request
and i glimpse how you stretch out your naked body
to receive showers of falling energy
from me
like the suddenness of nightfall
and leaves you howling with elation
while i flaunt my nudity
and we grasp for more heat
and we dance
naked as wild beasts
beneath the edifice of undressed night

and how she reclines above us so shamelessly!

and how we whimper
and shimmer beneath her lust
our legs prized open with hunger
our eyes clasped shut with excess!



he said,
you’re a beautiful woman.

i said,
i know.

in the face of ignorance,



i brought her flowers.

i held them out
as if making an offering,
an offering of… support,
where arms could not be found.

i bit my tongue
for fear of saying
the words that sang my heart.

i withheld warmth
and delivered earth
and hoped the gift would suffice,

while knowing
it would never do
for me.

it would never.



at the end of a day
we fall asleep one person
and awaken another



maybe… just so
i will stand at our window today
this white window that knows our shadows so well
and through the dapple of morning light
i will watch as you go about what you do
and think how
when we are not bound
arms and legs and mouths
there is still the splendor of you
and its ring inside my senses
like the vibrant chime of a bell
upon my eyes
for them to open
to receive
your breath
as if for the very first time

and i will watch
for your ghost
to find our white window

to wander through my body
like a yearning spirit 
wanders through an empty house



i love the seasons. i love them dearly. they afford an opportunity for change. an opportunity for newness. there is a special delight in seeing new colors. touching new flowers. smelling new airs. there is a psychic explosion of sensuality inside me when the present season departs and the new season enters my life.

but. once upon a time. once. long ago. i lived in a country with no seasons. i did not hate living there. i loved it. i loved it so much, i didn’t notice the missing seasons. life was lived one season all year long. and there was nothing to think about. that was just how it was.

now. many years later. i think about that experience as though i was a victim. as though i was missing something, back then. i wasn’t. but sometimes memories bring with them a certain feeling of wanting to be the victim. just like sometimes they bring with them a certain feeling of wanting to be there again… doing it all over again.

today. there is the feeling of wanting to be the victim. poor me. i lived in a beautiful country with a beautiful landscape and beautiful people… oh, but… i didn’t have my seasons.

let me be the victim, then!
if that will feed something.
just for today.

i will be the victim.
i will be the masochist.
just for today.

i will sit inside
and think about
my no-season life

with self-pity.

and outside,
the leaves will turn,
and change color,

and fly away.



she told me about her falling dreams.
i listened as she walked around
a clamoring evasion.

and then, right before she left,
a doorknob confession.
one of those,
oh, and by the way…
as if we would not meet again.

as if she owed me a truth
she did not owe herself.



you sprawl 
above me
beneath me
around me
inside me
you sink

like a meadow
dressed with flowers
you sing

and why should i
object or complain?

but i have questions
inside my head

you see…

i want to know about the blue hue
that colors your longing at night

i want to know about the way
you balance necessity and desire

i want…

there is so much i want to know

but you know… my mind…
it can’t soar across the wilderness of you

but still…

i want to know what clouds your head

and what about
that icy feeling you have
when you remember

and what about these thoughts
i have of you?

and what about this burn
you have for me?

and what about the echo
your flesh chants
beneath my skin
when you are not near?



that certain day
that certain moment
a moment keening with truth

i started to write something
but my gut said,
close this notebook

and i saw how
that beautiful moment
was not about words

it was about silence

and stillness

and the transformation therein



a couple of weeks ago
my love said to me,
nevine, you look exhausted
without princess or preamble

and i said,
i do?
as if i didn’t know
as if i didn’t feel

and i looked at myself
in the mirror
i looked
without having to look too hard

and i told myself i had to stop
for heaven’s sake
(no… for mine)
or else…


i caught myself running
and struggling
to catch my breath

i caught myself
heaving with exhaustion
at my own reflection

i caught myself giving
to others
giving care
and nurturing
and support
bearing their burdens
while they crumbled
beneath the weight

i caught myself
giving to others
but not
giving to me

and which crack
i wondered
had i slipped through
which crack
while pondering self-care?
where did my foot slide
beneath me?
when did my arms
not reach out to catch me
as i fell?

but i did slip
no matter how
or where
or when
i slipped
and found myself


into self-love
because who else
will love me
as i love me?

and i caught myself
at the last moment
i caught myself
by my very arms
and wrapped my arms
around me
and told me to
hold on right here, nevine

and while wrapping
i remembered
when i was a child
always running
through the woods
so i could hear the wind
sing in my hair

and while holding
i realized
i am no longer a child
and that running
through the woods
means never getting
to see the trees



i have been running
and running
and wanting to pause
while asking myself,
shall i stop?

shall i stop
and wait
and listen
for another’s footfalls
on the floor?

they might tell me,
i am here
i am here

but the footfalls
of another
would never suffice

only my feet
can lift me
can move me
can shift me
from here
to there
to here again

only my feet…
from that
to this

one footfall
and another
one breath
and the next

one touch
one sanctuary

and here
i rest



it rained again, last night. it poured as if the sky were angry at the earth for not wanting more. and what could i do but sit there in the dark and listen to it all with wonder? more decadent than the falling of the rain was its sound. some kind of secret language of lovebites and kisses, 
the pitter patter
the gentle caress of
warm lips on yearning skin
the complex lust of need need need
more eloquent
more furious
than the simple lust of desire

earth and sky
earth and sky
earth on top
sky below
the violent drumming
of primitive storm
the gift of sky’s furious hammer
and the earth unfolding
sky on top
earth below
absorbing, ever so gently
the sky’s ejaculation

how they have burned for one another!

and how i have burned
and waited
. . .
to watch, like a voyeur
their sweet release
in the ubiquity of night!



she asked me,
what do you think
of these chance encounters
of ours?

and i did not know
what to say.

i am not a believer in chance,
you see.

i am a believer
in the non-existence of coincidence.

i am a believer
in providence.

but still,
i challenge it.

and what troughs i drink from
while journeying
from ambition
to realization!



with the closing of a chapter
comes the turning of a page



last night. an odd exchange.


faced with a situation. an unexpected situation. unexpected… and evil… and cruel. faced with that situation: i feigned ignorance. i played the fool.

and as i did, this truth washed over me:

feigning ignorance allows moments of revelation… followed by a sense of gratification. and not just any gratification! The Uncontested Gratification. this is the gratification that follows our allowing others to lower their defenses before us.

here was the other, before me, thinking, she’s an idiot. she’ll never be on to me! he thought this to himself, and i saw him think it! i saw it in his eyes that flickered, ever so briefly, with the delicate brushstrokes of deceit. and he so quickly… so readily… shed his false airs while thinking i wasn’t paying attention.

and all the time, i was watching… so closely. and seeing… so precisely… just what he would do next. and divining… as if by incantation… just what he would say.

and he said it! and i smiled. but only with my eyes that flickered, ever so briefly, with the delicate brushstrokes of gratification. that his eyes could see just what i wanted them to see. and he saw!

and after he saw, we parted.



i live life
inside the blur
of perfect geometry



it’s been too long a time
since we walked these woods together
you said
and i thought
more than long and longer than time
and the trees reached out for us
remembering our presence
from that other time
back before time
pleading with us
do it once again
sleep in our shade
and wink at the sky
through the brown-green
dapple of our leaves
so we slept
my head on your stomach
your fingers in my hair
the smell of life and earth and heaven
kissing our skin so tenderly
and you said
look at the color of the sky
is it real, or is it touched by magic?
and i said
it’s real
and you said
when was the last time we did this?
and i said
last spring
why don’t we do this more often?
you said
and i thought
because if we did
the magic would flee



another unsent letter

Dear O.,

I’ve something to confess. I caught myself reading something I shouldn’t have been reading. I caught myself reading your journal. I came into your classroom to cover for you, just for a few moments. I came in to watch your students while you ran down the hall. And my fingers couldn’t help but touch the open pages sitting on your desk, so white and naked, colored by the outpour of your thoughts.

And I read something that made me stop. I read this: This is my dream job. And this one sentence, among all others, was written with such flair! It was written with pride, and joy, and fullness of spirit. And my first thought was: I wish I could make that statement and mean it. But my second thought was: I soon will.

Following this was a sense of urgency, as if I had to do something immediately, right now. Something to remedy that first feeling—an antidote to the dissatisfaction. And that was when it registered in my head that, scary as it may be, and time-consuming as it may be, I have already made the right decision to pursue my true desire, so that I might also have my dream job.

I am leaving this place in a few days. I will be gone from this hall… these halls… forever. I will leave these halls for other halls, where someone will be standing at the door to welcome me, rather than the other way around. And believe me, I will never look back!

But… before I go, I just have to say… I apologize for desecrating your privacy. But, this is something you must understand. This desecration of your thoughts was an impetus for mine. Not that that was ever a good enough reason for me to read what was so profoundly yours. But then, you left the open pages, like a blossoming rose, right beneath my fingertips. And what could my fingers do but touch, and brush, and caress? Do you know what I mean? You probably never will. And you will probably never forgive me. But I will thank you forever. Because your joy was my momentary misery, before it turned itself upon its head and reminded me of my joy, as well.




outside the gates
that wall off this garden, you.

but, look—
i’ve still got my smile.

this is the smile
i once thought you bestowed.


when i glimpse
my own reflection,

i recognize
its grace.



long ago
when i was a child
i watched through a half-closed door
a woman shed her shimmering hair
like she was shedding her skin

she sheared it off
one lock after the other
and tossed it with lyrical abandon
while her daughter
a girl with conservative curls
pled with her to stop stop stop!

but there was no stopping her
and poor child
unable to bear much more
switched her gaze to the wall
stared at her reflection
in an age-spotted mirror
and wept ever so bitterly
while her mother cackled grotesquely

my ears will never forget that sound
my eyes are branded forever
with the little girl’s tears
so black with longing
so choked with desire
so rabid with regret

but, today
as i remember this
so many years later
i ask myself
(because i must)
the meaning of
this memory

i ask myself
why this?
why now?
while fearing instinctively
that i will never understand



while driving home
i hummed to “la notte”
and counted the stars.

oh, mystical divinity
too sacred for words!



this morning
i do not force myself

i listen to my body
as it expresses itself

i sit by myself
in green grass
beneath living tree
mist kissing skin
and flesh
and soul

and i allow my body
to speak
to confess
to complain

i allow it its agonies
i allow it its revelries

this is a solitude
i must embrace
as long, as winding
as it may be

i do


there are
no elegant shortcuts



and what if
he never returns?
she said.

and if he does,
i said,
what will you do then?



thinking thoughts of writing
something about something
or something about nothing
i tell myself to pause
set my pen down with intention
close the journal upon my words
and decide quite staunchly

i will read the words of someone else

some nights
there is more nurture
more tenderness
more warmth
more care
in the thoughts born
inside the churning
of another’s marrow



if tonight
you offered me
the moon on a string of gold
and told me it was mine to keep
would i believe you?

should i?



another unsent letter

Dear M.,

I see you after… how many years? I make it a point to look at your face. I look. I understand one thing: You are the incarnation of Desperation. You are the discarded lover gone mad. You are lonely. Alone. Feeding on long-lost memories. Holding my name between your parched lips. Murmuring it secretly, so it sounds like the squealing sands of a violent desert storm.

You can’t erase my absence. You can’t erase my presence.

It is not because you hate me that you wish to make me suffer; it is because you love me.


But, no. This is not love. This is Obsession. Consumption. Insanity.

I want to say, You are pathetic. I do not want to make the effort.

I recall how you loved listening to your own voice. I recall how no other voice but yours mattered. Now, there is no voice inside your throat. Your desperation has petrified all timbre.

I recall how you gazed at your own reflection, so lost in self-love. Was what others lavished on you not enough? But for you, nothing was ever enough. Yours was always the need for more.

I recall… it doesn’t matter.

As I close my eyes over these memories, a persistent question saturates my vision: What is a word for who YOU are?

I have no words. Or, rather. I have no energy to seek the words. Or perhaps… I have no desire to expend the energy.

One blink, and you are black tar inside my eyelids.

I discarded you, so long ago. And what I discard, I never recover.




tell me about the cinderella complex
you said
and you flipped over on your side
one arm between us
the other around the backside of my heart
your face up close to mine
so we were
nose against nose
lips against lips
teeth against teeth

and i had no breath
as i said to myself
it is me with you
it is my secret desire

something i can never tell
but a truth i know so well

it is the destruction of my fabricated self
the degradation of my false modesty

but i did not tell you this
nor did you wait for my response

instead, you said
you have such delicate ankles
such fragile bones
and how clenched you were!
how in battle with yourself!

and solid gold probed divided rose flesh

oh, to be impaled
so exquisitely!

so… inside!

and outside…
only the sound of crickets



there is a broken being out there
(who i can hardly call a man),
messed up and insecure,
who invents brothers,
who invents sisters,
who invents sons,
who invents daughters,
who invents lovers,
(and what they do to him,
and what he does to them),
who invents the entirety of his life
(and its nuances, in tow)
and who invents praise to himself,
while inventing, also, those who deliver it.

and all of this
for something that belongs to him
no more than he belongs to himself.

in a world filled with imagination,
there is always room for more,

one must ever keep one’s finger steady
on what’s real and what’s not.

and so…

i wrote it in a story before,
and i will say it here, once more:
“if you tell the same lie enough times, even you start to believe it.”

and here is where solitude begins.

and in the kingdom of solitude, madness reigns. 



she comes to me
in the dead hours of the night
she comes
and not for the first time

she has been coming to me
telling me things
telling me truths
telling me fictions
filling me with words and thoughts
of who she is and what she wants to be
answering my questions
while i sleep
while i wake
while i do

whispering to me
bring me alive

i feel her urgency inside me
this woman who has been living in my thoughts
for days. for weeks. for months.
i feel her urgency to be born. to emerge.
to be released
limbs of flesh and blood and bone
splayed across both earth and sky

i birthed her last night

and this morning
on a new day
she inhabits pages of script
beloved and bled
from agonizing mind and quivering fingers
pages bled in the blindness of night
and she tells me she wishes to inhabit
more and more and more

what can i do but oblige?

i am alive
she is alive

i am her creator