Episode 1- The Hounds

[Draft 7/2013]

I was determined that it was O.K. that the government was making a big deal out of nothing. Like the tornado sirens that were never followed by a tornado, flood warnings, and ‘terrorist attacks’ that never manifested. I had a test the next week. It was finals week. I went to the corner store and bought as much dry food as I could fit in my dorm room. My room had the prefect set up, a microwave sitting on top of a yellowish mini-fridge. The brown counter top was bursting with ramen noodle packages and the fridge was stuffed with energy drinks and vitamin water. I felt prepared for the next few final weeks. I studied most of my days and avoided classmates as much as I could. That day, I decided to take a nap at three in the afternoon. As I laid on my mattress that lacked sheets I noticed the tears on its light-blue box spring. Then I noticed that the clouds seem to find a permanent home here, lingering above campus. I thought; haven’t heard the cheerful bird songs in days. Come to think of it… I haven’t heard much lately. The parties that never stopped across the hall seem to have ended—finally!

I changed my voice mail message to “I’ll talk to you when finals are over”. I must have a had hundreds of messages by now. 70% of them were from my boyfriend JAMES. We had been together (on and off) as-long-as I could remember. We’d met when we were 15 years old, and well, we’ve been together ever since. He’s not into change and I’m not into confrontation so we go to different schools. He stayed in Michigan and I moved down to Florida, it’s nicer here. I would have a tan on those skinny pale bones if I didn’t have so much studying to do. The goal is to get into the medical school down here. James wanted to be a wildlife biologist, somewhere up north, was the plan. We were two busy individuals, so it’s a perfect situation. When someone asked me if I was available, I don’t have to lie and say that I’m not! James called me a lot, but my parents usually understand. I didn’t get why they keep calling me. “IT’S FINALS WEEK PEOPLE.” I thought.

Now it’s been a few days of quietness. “It’s too quiet here. It’s like everybody has left. The reconstruction on this third floor has stopped for no good reason. Maybe I should go to the store and watch the news or something, a break from microbiology is not such a bad thing.” I thought to myself.

I decided finally open my dorm room door. As the door creaked open, a loud howl came from down the hall and a white animal rushed toward my door. I closed the door fast and ran toward the fire exit through my window. I rushed down the stairs thinking that the large dog-ish creature was following me. I stumbled and ran into a person—a guy on the fire escape. We didn’t talk but we ran down the stairs, seemed like we were running for similar reasons. After going down the three floors we realized that nothing is following us.

I thought we needed to get out of this place then I asked: “Do you have a car?”

He said: “yeah! I don’t have much gas though I’ve been driving for few days to come here and meet my girlfriend. She hasn’t answered my calls. You think she would after that horrifying news.”

“What news?” I asked confused.

“The…the ‘outbreak of the creatures’ the white hounds.” He replied with a sarcastic voice.

I said: “So I wasn’t imagining? The… the…”

He said: “It looks like they’ve evacuated the campus, didn’t you notice?”

I said: “Well I have a bathroom and a microwave in my dorm room. It’s still being renovated, my floor that is, so no one wanted to live up here but me and those partiers across the hall. We get to do whatever we want since we are more isolated from the other floors of the building.”

He scratched the back of his head and said while looking distracted: “Well, I’m ahhh… call me ‘T’.” After a few seconds of silence he continued: “So let’s find a car with good mileage per gallon and lots of gas, shall we?” I nodded. We walked around the campus’s parking lot till we found a Toyota Prius with over half a tank of gas. He said: “Well these are hard to hotwire.” I looked under the car and found a spare key under a hidden spot.

I smiled saying:” My boyfriend has this model, he’s always said that it’s stupid to leave your keys there because it’s a known ‘secret spot’ in these models for keys”.

“Well I’m glad this person didn’t think so.” Said Tee. We got in the car and as Tee started driving we wondered about our destination. Where will we go? We weren’t sure. As far as this car can take us, that seemed to be the plan for now.

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Late

I get lost in lines they make

An illegal U-turn leading to a mistake

Between red and green lights

While driving too slow at night

I get lost with a GPS that orders me around

Two streets away from your house

I walk in, trying not to make a sound

Late again

Much too late

“Where were you? Did you get lost again?”

I was watching the stars and got lost in my head

Adapting 

In a crack between two bricks

I left a message as I was taken away

And Freed from the rooftop 

I was allowed to visit the beach in May

Rain disturbed the strangers

But I was so happy to be free

And as time passed

I forgot the rooftop

And those strangers were much like me

.

.

(Note: I grew up in Iraq,  where we spent most days on the rooftops. Now I face the ocean on a rainy vacation. )

The Pond part-2 [Audio Poem]

An unexpected visitor

The bird that sat on her window, it looked familiar as if it belonged to a different place

She can see that the city was not his place

Maybe he followed her train to where the trees don’t grow

Where the cars’ noises block the voices in her head

She can no longer hear her best friend—the inspiration

Looking out of her cold studio apartment’s window, she can’t see the stars

Her lover’s words resonate in her ears, he was right—she misses counting the bright pins in the sky

That yellow cheerful bird’s singing covered all the other noises around her

She wondered if he had been a messenger, if he carried a letter from The Pond for her

Although her apartment stood high above the man-made trails beneath

It was no match to the mountain she used to live on,

The broken kitchen counters that he’d promised to fix,

The cotton filled pillows, the wooden chair he proudly carved.

She closes her eyes humming with the bird, harmonies she once knew so well

She can smell it, the pond’s stench—what she hated and loved so much

But it escapes her before she can capture it; she wished to paint it on her pale grey wall

The memories were too old, and the paint has run dry.