Category Archives: Poetry

The Little Match Girl (Hans Christian Andersen)

Poets do themselves a grave injustice if they never read the work of other poets. Thing about creativity–we all talk about being original, but nothing in the creative world is actually original. I am saying that to say that we all inspire each other, and every idea anyone ever came up with was inspired by somebody else’s idea. If you are so wrapped up in your own work, you will never be inspired to create new work.

That said, this morning when I woke up I grabbed a random book off my bookshelf to have something to read while out and about with the children. I didn’t even look at what I had until I was in the car, and my daughter read the cover:  It was a 40-something year old copy of a copy of a collection of poems by Hans Christian Andersen. He holds a special place in my heart for several reasons:

  1. He authored one of my favorite short stories, “The Little Match Girl”, which I read as a boy around 11 or 12 years old. When I was an English major at the University of DC, I wrote a criticism of this story. Although I was barely a teen when I read the story for the first time, I was forever changed by it (more to come)
  2. He wrote another short story that my daughter, and perhaps your daughter (or YOU) hold dear:  “The Little Mermaid”. I sure hope you didn’t think Disney created this story? I also read it while in school, and years later when the movie came out (I didn’t actually see the movie until I had a daughter of my own) my baby cousin who loved the movie so much charmed me into wanting a little girl–I wanted no parts of a daughter in those days. But my cousin was so cute I needed someone to spoil… and a conversation about Ariel started it.
  3. He was a contemporary of two other favorites of mine: Lewis Carroll (Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There… aka “Alice in Wonderland”) and the great Charles Dickens. His writings paralleled Dickens, who wrote works that entranced me and influenced my feelings about the poor and the battle of the classes.
  4. Others, such as a poem I will post at the end of this article. More on this later.
My Only Princess... the rival to every woman I know since she was born

My Only Princess… the rival to every woman I know since she was born

So The Little Match Girl.

She was a poor little girl selling matches on the street to help take care of her father. She is treated poorly by everyone but her grandmother. It is New Year’s Eve, and she is having a difficult time selling the matches, but does not want to go home empty handed. She takes shelter in an enclosure, and lights matches to stay warm.

Each time she strikes a match, she hallucinates and sees visions:  A holiday feast, a warm, comfortable home with a stove, a Christmas tree. She looks up in the sky and sees a shooting star–and is reminded that her grandmother once told her, that when you see a shooting star, someone has died and gone to heaven.

Freezing, but entertained, the little girl continues lighting matches, alternating between warmth and cold. Then she sees her grandmother, “the only person who had loved her, but is no more”.

She lights the whole pack to keep her grandmother present, but she is just a vision. Her grandmother is dead.

And now out of matches, the little girl freezes to death.

A passerby finds her the next morning, unaware that of the visions the little girl saw the night before, sad for the little girl who died such a happy and comforted child… unaware that her grandmother carried her to heaven the night before. Surely, the stranger felt an intense pity for this child–who was as rich as anyone else with the presence of her grandmother’s image.

The end.

And you see how Andersen’s work could engage the reader and penetrate your soul… No more needs to be said.

In case you were wondering what my favorite Andersen poem might be, it is a piece entitled–never mind. Just read it. Thanks for visiting my blog.

.

.

mother, i am tired. I’ll drowse away

by your heart, I’ll find my deepest place

promise me you’ll weep no more today

for your salt tears burn my face

here, it is cold, the outside wind is wild

but in dreams the wildest wonders fly

and I see a smiling angel-child

when tonight, I close my weary eye

.

do you see the angel all in light?

hear his music flowing from above?

look–he has two wings, so fair and white

which our Lord has given him in love

green and gold and red the angel brings

they are flowers gliding past my eye

will I–while I live–be given wings?

or fly with them, Mother, when I die?

.

Mother, why do you press my hand?

and why do you press your cheek to mine?

it is wet, but burns me like a brand

i will always be yours, true and good

but no longer, Mother, shall you sigh such sighs

if you cry, I’ll cry

Oh, I am so tired! Come, shut my eyes!

Mother–look!

The angel is kissing me…

.

.

“Dying Child”

Hans Christian Andersen

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Alan and Amy

An abecedarian, for those who know what that is…  Written for my best friend who decided in her late 30s that she wanted a baby (and wasn’t sure if she could actually have them)–I still claim her as my ultimate Baby Momma. Names had been changed. lol

Alan and Amy almost had another abortion or

baby, but because birth

control can cure conception with Christian conviction

Daddy decided to do

everything every

first time father who forgoes fatherhood

in order to gain a foothold in the grabbing of goods

and houses, he hated to have to heavily suffer

indefinitely, see, initially, incomes are interrupted

just by jumping in to join the generations of Joneses

or Karens and Kens having kids, he

liked

making money, making love, moving on the minute

never needing to nullify nymphatic normalities

or otherwise order takeout food out of owning

priorities… Parenthood pains pauses the

quality of life for quintessentially quaint queens and kings

or royalties for wrong reasons other than right

see, single sex spells sin since suffering stays

true to traditions of taming tainted temptations

Amy understood that it was unbearable to usurp the ulterior

veracity of vaculess valueless vanity

when will Alan and Amy wave to the wind and

accept the vex of the expected outcome of unprotected sex?

Amy yells to Ya’Allah, Yaweh, Yehova–yearning to yield a yes and gave birth

to Zion.

“Alan and Amy, for Flurrie Black”

 

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His Journey Home… Hurts

I used to hang out at the Starbux in Oak Park (now Old Soul Café), and there is a regular there–I don’t know her, but I see her all the time–whose son recently passed away. She is about my age, so I’m sure her son is pretty young. As a fellow parent, her pain engaged me and I terribly empathize with her… so much I hurt.

 

So, anyway, two nights ago, I dreamt I was in Starbux, and this lady was pregnant. She was sitting on the couch holding her stomach and crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she was saying that her stomach hurt–a lot. So I walked back to my table to call the ambulance, thinking she was in labor. 911 asks how far she was in her pregnancy, and I turned to ask her, and noticed that she was no longer pregnant. She was still holding her stomach and crying about how much it hurt.

 

I recognized what God was telling me, and I woke up right after (it was 4 a.m. btw) and wrote this poem….

 

 

Sitting in painful silence

Dark

Somber

Empty

Hopeless

Ovaries ache with undying misery

They accompanied his arrival

Now they send him home

Sailing across ripples of worlds

These momentary folds of time

With Oceanic voyages between them

Earthly vessels on loan from the Creator

She hears whispers from within—

“He is not mine, but Yours…”

—Her Lord offers comfort—

With waves of wet womanhood

She feels an echo in her womb

As if he were still here

Bound by umbilical connections

Like tin cans on a spiritual string

They met in this blissful dream:

Such a short life

Yet it forever stains her memory

His departure brings back enough labor pains

To last a lifetime

(It’s hard work giving God back

what’s rightfully His)

Her soul cries prayers

At the top of its lungs

Begs relief from this insatiable grief

As a tear evaporates back

To the clouds above

Sitting in painful silence,

But enveloped in the fragrant scent

Of the Greatest Love:

A mother’s.

 

 

 

“His Journey Home… Hurts”

© 2008

Mustafa Gatdula

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I Was Halfway There (Poem for Alicia Khan)

A good friend of mine lost his wife.

He’s an old friend, an old martial arts student. When he married, he asked me to pen a poem–so I wrote two. One an ode to him, the other, one to his wife. This was only a few years ago, and earlier this year I hear that every man’s fear occurred… That “Till-Death-Do-We-Part” is pushed. I’m dropping tears as I write this, because while I don’t know his wife–never met her in fact (they live out of the area)–but I know and love him, and my heart hurts for him.

Those “lady-killers”/polyamorous types long for what he found, and my friend Kashif has never suffered the misfortune of looking for love in the wrong places, chasing dream after dream after dream, and then 7 marriages later you find yourself still alone. Waiting to be swept off your feet as some woman did, years ago, and like a cocaine addict looking for that first high that will never come back–and alternate between having your heart  broken and breaking someone else’s heart. Then one day, you look around. You’re no longer good looking, you’re no longer young, no longer traveling baggage-free, you’re no longer desirable, and you’re no longer capable of finding that perfect woman because even if you did, she wouldn’t want your old, broken, tainted-history ass.

But enough about me.

My friend Kashif found the woman of his dreams at 25, and traded in the bachelor’s life happily because he knew there was nothing else he wanted but to be in her presence. And he asked me to take his feelings and describe them in ways he could not.

So Alicia, you perfumed Kashif’s life and your memory will leave him forever defined by the fact that he was fortunate to have been your husband. It breaks my soul to know that you will now only be held by him in his dreams.

Poems take our thoughts and feelings and are a way for others to enjoy them. This is for Kashif and Alicia.

i was halfway there

existing somewhere

between boy-meets-girl

and baby plans

you’re my wife, i’m your man

raising babies and

baby, i want to spend my life with you

it is between a boyhood crush

and everlasting love

between sold on the idea

that she is the one

and i would sell my soul

to keep her on this earth one more day

it is the space in time

somewhere between “how do you do?”

and “i do”

it is the place that lovers seem

to forget when they fight

the days when a man longed

to be with her for long days

and during sleepless nights

the days when a man checked

his cell phone and email

every five minutes

and while most who are already there

take this time for granted

it feels too good to let it end

i’ve got to keep it going

for the long haul

it’s bordering obsession, i greed you;

i want it all

and we

have yet to evolve to the level

where individual souls conjoin

to form one unit

i dare not call this love yet

but lust is just to primitive a work

to describe it

she has yet to experience

what it feels like to to have her soul

penetrated by true manhood

i anxiously anticipate the arrival

of opportunities to show her

how heavily and heated heartfelt works

can hold down her heartache

till it subsides

i want to ride her dreams into reality

fulfill forgotten wishes

so that the next time she’s in bed with a man

she’ll be laying with

a man.

and the next time she’s in bed with a man

she’ll be laying with

her man.

a man who does not give in

to his mind when his body lies

a man who can look into her soul

seeing past breasts and thighs

a man who appreciates the beauty existing

behind her eyes

i’m feeling her like a good massage

i can feel her thinking of me

i can read her mind

i can hear her before she calls me

when she’s hungry

i feed her my time

leaving me never thirsty

i drink the juices poured from her heart

every time she speaks to me

when i sleep, i dream:

KA

Keep her Always

KA

Kneeling At her feet

KA

King of her Affection

KA

Kindly Assure me she’ll be mine forever—

forever sweet

KA

Kashif and Alicia

my greatest accomplishment

the achievement that brings me the most satisfying sense of completeness—

i adore you

i was found between the like

and the love

down below

and above

but it was temporary;

and it felt too good to end

i needed us to get out from between that place

evolve to the next level

because, baby, you complete me.

Kashif and Alicia Khan

© Mustafa Gatdula 2006

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The Good Ones, by Alice Walker (R.I.P. Hugo Chavez)

I admired this man from a distance. Before I ever knew who Hugo Chavez was, I knew that America hated him. And that fact alone meant that I needed to find out who he was and why this must mean that he was my friend. There is a saying, that the enemy of my enemy is my friend–and this proof of that. As my father once said “Ain’t no VietCong ever called me Nigger.” My father served this military anyway, and did so honorably, because in what bad or evil that you find–there is almost always some good. I have no reason to hate Chavez, so the propaganda that was used as a weapon against my Black brothers, my Muslim family, my Asian mother… has NO effect on me.

So forgive me if I hear the reasons why we should hate Hugo Chavez, and not only do I hear “Because he doesn’t serve our agenda”–I’d like to answer with a big FUCK YOU.

I was in the process of thinking up a poem about Hugo, and I came across this one, penned by the great Alice Walker. I think she did an awesome job, and I am looking forward to God granting me the words to write one of my own.

Either way, enjoy!

The Good Ones

For Hugo Chavez

March 5, 2013

©2013 by Alice Walker

.

The good ones

who listen

to women

to children and the poor

die too soon,

their lives bedeviled

by opposition:

our hearts grieve for them.

This was the world my father knew.

A poor man

he saw good men come and mostly go;

leaving behind

the stranded and bereft.

People of hopes, dreams, and so much

hard work!

Yearning for a future suddenly

foreclosed.

But today

you write me all is well

even though the admirable

Hugo Chavez

has died this afternoon.

Never again will we hear that voice

of reasoned anger

and disgust

of passionate vision

and of triumph.

This is true.

But what a lot he did in his 58 years!

You say.

What a mighty ruckus

Hugo Chavez made!

This is also true.

Thank you for reminding me.

That though life –

this never-ending loop –

has passed us by today

but carried off

in death

a hero

of the masses

it is his spirit

of fiercely outspoken

cariño

that is not lost.

That inheritance

has gone instantly

into the people

to whom he listened

and it is there

that we will expect it

to rise

as early as

tomorrow;

and there

that

we will encounter it

always

soon again.

Hugo Chavez

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to the Iraqi mother

come

i must do it again, that natural primal inclination

(after all, she is a woman)

toes stiffen, fists curled, spine shivers, eyes rolled to the back of her head

last time, the tears overflowed like the Euphrates, endlessly

still young; plenty of time—they say, but her empty womb echoes a story

lowers her with a kiss as they bid her:

“come…”

“to the Iraqi mother”

2013

iraqi mother

In honor of a woman I saw interviewed whose second child in two years (? can’t remember the span) was killed via Iraqi “liberation” by our forces. The woman next to her was telling her she was still young enough to have another child. She broke from the interview to say, “I DID have another child!”

By the way, the picture is not of that mother, but it is real. Thanks to our belief that non-American lives are worth less than a gallon of oil–or sweet no-bid contracts–there  is no shortage of mothers losing their children we can put up to illustrate. It is a damn shame, that God, the All-knowing, Merciful One that He is, created Woman to bring gifts into the world, but men, who are her designated protectors, use the power of free will to take them away. When will we learn? (if you want to know more about her, the woman’s name is Wafaa Hussein. Her child was 6 when he was hit by a sniper:  READ MORE HERE)

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In Honor of Women’s History Month…

I am going to attempt to…. (drum rolls)

Pen 20 poems in honor or women.

#thatisall

 

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