culotte – Khulood

When I learned that a Saudi Arabian model by the name of Khulood had been arrested because she walked around butt-naked in a mini-skirt in the old town of Ushaiger, my mind filled with self-righteous anger, that forces itself out in this puff of half-informed vitriol.

I don’t need to know all the details. I want to address this in the vernacular: people, this fucking sucks.

I don’t have time for cultural relativist types indebted to the likes of Edward Said, who charge the privileged Western observer with a lack of cultural ‘sensitivity’ or even understanding. Rather, I respond with an ironic pun that is silly enough to do justice to this terrifying abuse of human rights. ‘Khulood’ sounds to me like ‘culotte’, a divided skirt but I think  of culotté, underwear. And it reminds me of the sansculottes, the Parisian revolutionaries.

So, on the barricades, women of Saudi-Arabia! You might live in the most backward country in the world (supported by the second most backward country) where you are unique not allowed to drive a car. As far as I’m concerned, you have a license to drive men crazy.

And Ivanka, you know what you’ve gotta do: #freekhulood

culotte – Khulood was originally published on Meandering home

do you know a name? (parental guidance advised)

every Monday i wake up with with a pain that i am not allowed to call pain
some subconsciousness has conspired to destroy whatever vital ambition

i hate this fucking show but i am not allowed to turn it off

week by week my life is rotting away
i have lost all interest and inspiration but i still get it up

so neither am i allowed to call it a depression
do you know a name?

do you know a name? (parental guidance advised) was originally published on Meandering home

Bilingual child’s creative translation

Today, like most days, my four years old daughter Miru sang a song in kindergarten. When I asked her to sing it to me after I picked her up and she was enjoying an ice slushy that colored her tongue orange, she rendered a perfect translation in Dutch.

Good, the song consisted of three distinct words (‘Car, car, car. Let’s go’ in Korean) but her translation took me by surprise because it was creative: ‘Auto, auto, auto. Even weg’.

This comes so naturally to her that I begin to understand how multilingual children are hard-wired differently from the rest of us. According to a Russian-Italian I once asked about it, they think ‘in images and concepts’ rather than in words. The above translation would be a perfect example of it. Miru had sung the song in Korean, but probably remembered Dutch TV animations about cars that she had watched at home. The idiom “even weg” might have come from an animation or TV show she is watching, or she might have heard the expression while visiting her paternal grandfather in the Low Countries. Either way, instead of looking up the term for ‘let’s go’ in some sort of internal dictionary, her mind had browsed all ‘car’ situations and concepts and selected one labeled ‘Dutch’. And that concept happened to be accompanied with the phrase ‘even weg’.

Bilingual child’s creative translation was originally published on Meandering home

Subway station

I imagine feeling elated
when I walk in the underground concrete
counting irksome smiles and turnstiles
breathing bubbles into transient thoughts
that need not be fierce and piercing
I imagine yellow trains leaving
on the lower levels that connect the shopping
and further I imagine electric voices
barking liberation from melting speakers
and all the imagery on the other side

Subway station was originally published on Meandering home

The gizzard of Halcyon

The world is a forest
we cheapskate light on the forest floor
high above flies the body of the bird
of cool. We fools look up to see if she’s gone

halcyon, junky of the cloudless skies
deal me more words, I want to play.
I want to prove I’m here
I want the spirits to turn me on
and live as long as the fish
who dies in the gizzard of halcyon

The gizzard of Halcyon was originally published on Meandering home

Ceci n’est pas un poème déprimé

The hatred of my hatred vindicates me:
I am still a consciousness
in and of the world, death foreshadowing
in all of its tissues

My body tortures itself
I must watch, I watch
pain is no measure as my spirit is gone
this is not suffering: I am an automaton

I don’t want to wait
while life flees from me
like a scared rodent flees
from bigger rodents

Ceci n’est pas un poème déprimé was originally published on Meandering home