Sometimes It Takes a Storm by Siham Karami

Sometimes It Takes a Storm

When life comes in, it comes in as a threat:
Sally’s packing threatening winds and rain.
More needles poke your body to reset.

As you resist, your hands in mitts must sweat
their trap, like riding out a hurricane
or life, which often comes in as a threat,

a gas-masked doctor whom you’ve never met
who pulls you from the jaws of death and brain
gone haywire, more IV’s to poke, reset

the liver, kidneys, heart, the rough roulette
of day-to-day recovery. Come, let’s drain
from your incoming life what stops its threat:

the dams and sandbags ease would build, its bet
that death’s cool comfort lures to its domain
your needles poking out, your body set

on dear survival. No time to regret
the house burned down, the flooded fields, the pain.
When life comes in, it comes in as a threat:
a needle torrent pokes death—>NO! Reset.

by Siham Karami


Editor’s Note: Some verse fits so perfectly into current events that the small, structural metaphor it contains grows beyond the confines of the lines. This villanelle is one of those.

The Buoy by Siham Karami

The Buoy

Lost, fluorescing with the ferry’s glow
across the pleasure sea from San Francisco,
tripping lightly into Sausalito,
I found myself inside a stranger’s yacht
and joined him waxing floorboards. Then his smile
burst like sun through dangling seaweed—our eyes,
deep underwater lips, entangling, blurred.

The gravity of ties now in my hold,
I think of consequence, the darkening wake
where love has sunk—how to care so deep
and yet retain what hums, what radiates
a raw blue edge on every passing thing
as neon burns above the ocean freight,
to buzz the midnight air like wasps in heat.

by Siham Karami

Twitter: @SihamKarami

Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s imagery is almost surreal, leading one to believe that the story told is a dream, but the final lines are all too real.

Best of the Net Nominations – 2016


I am happy to announce the following poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net 2016:

The Year of the Dragon by Siham Karami
On Losing the Old Dog by Rae Spencer
Daffodils (Narcissus Jonquilla) by Kathryn Good-Schiff
Spiderwort by Marybeth Rua-Larsen
Age of Steam by Neil Flatman
No I in Team by Ed Shacklee


The Year of the Dragon by Siham Karami

The Year of the Dragon

My parents’ fire spent, time seems to drag on
until the cosmos, smoking, spawns the dragon.

All my waters burning. Every look a flare.
Every boy I love turns me to dragon.

Stretch your wingspan’s luck between two rivers.
One, an ancient stream. One, a pipe to drag on.

Stalactites stab me, living in this cave—
to leave or enter in, pass through the dragon.

The marrow of all living things is soft.
The marrow of the universe is dragon.

Einstein, stumped. The Theory, elusive.
Beneath their grand equations skulks a dragon.

The daily drip-drip-drip of tedium
feeds the growing fires of the dragon.

I sit alone each night and dream escape.
Then wake each dawn to stroke the seething dragon.

We’re at each other’s throats. Why stay together?
Old friends walk off and shudder. It’s the dragon.

You smile and whisper in my ear, Siham, I promise.
O garish words! You made me kiss the dragon.

by Siham Karami

Twitter: @SihamKarami

Editor’s Note: The lines of a ghazal usually yearn towards something (love, spirituality, understanding), and this one does not disappoint. The dragon image is a metaphor upon which the reader may meditate.

Gently Still Finding You Between by Siham Karami

Gently Still Finding You Between

spirals in the shell you left behind,
on staircases, in tiny unseen rooms,
interstices, hidden ventricles,
auricles collapsed and yet alive,

imaginary origami hearts,
a nautilus still pumping through the days
that lost you in their downy underside
like sepals undernoticed, or a potted
cactus near the window no one looks through.

What liquids had been stored in you for years?
Love or some restrained guffaw or blooming
should have burst through sediment and rock.
So much to say, we found no way to talk.

The droplets never touched the cavern floor —
bonded to the minerals that melt
in geologic time, you are no more,
although your shape still shadows my old thoughts:
a gentle tapping on the window’s cold.
A film of rain coats footprints on the stairs.

by Siham Karami, first published in Kin Poetry Journal

Twitter: @SihamKarami


Editor’s Note: I’m pleased with how this poem uses imagery to suggest that memory lives in between all the spaces of a life. These detailed pictures (origami, nautilus, the cavern floor)  show the narrator’s emotional attachment to a missing loved one without ever coming right out and baldly stating it. [ETA: I’ve been told by the poet that this is blank verse. My apologies for not recognizing the meter.]

My Heart Is an Extremity by Siham Karami

My Heart Is an Extremity

Who crowned the heads of conquerors with leaves?
You slam the door. I’m rolling up my sleeves.

We read each other’s eyes and almost drown
like gypsies rendered speechless by the leaves.

Then winter strips us down to skeletons:
static, silence, sparks are all it leaves.

What is this archaeology of love,
brushing fragile shards, preserving leaves?

Waking to a gentle blush, we whisper
truth in half-words, all the heart believes.

We slowly die, let loose from the tree,
then whirl in restless, weightless crowds of leaves.

Your hands dry out like parchment on their bones,
but longing for their firm grip never leaves.

The spine holds words together, names the whole
but we extract their meaning from the leaves.

Don’t measure time, Siham, by things that fall,
but by the upward thrust of newborn leaves.

by Siham Karami, first published in Angle Poetry

Twitter: @SihamKarami

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem is unexpected, making it easy to picture the scenes detailed by the repetition of “leaves.” The longing that underpins the ghazal form is beautifully illustrated here.