Saturday, September 24, 2016


From behind the window pane
Is a TV screen
Beyond which
Are fish swimming
Almost linearly
Without each seemingly looking
At one another.
A man a little ways from me
Sipping coffee and spewing nicotine
Is hitting keys with one finger
On his mini screen.
I too take a drag from my hookah
And exhale a smoke screen.
Fog from the mountain
Is descending.
Humility settles on my lenses
Half thoughts behind my eyes
Are forming in the shade of the evening
And no one and nothing is looking.
Hold on. I think I have received an imaginary note
On the screen on my retina.
How nearly exciting
It’s all cool, calm and serene
For hours on end
With water bubbles from here or there
Or elsewhere not seen
Periodically rising.
Dawn is imminent
Seasonal clouds are approaching
And the mind’s eye, the screens, and the fish
Now vanish into nothing.

Ali H. Raddaoui

 Sept. 23, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016


I keep them simple, my pleasures
Without pretense or endeavor
I untie my shoe laces
Get rid of my socks
Place my plates on the gravel
So the Salalah night breeze
Destresses my nerve ends.
My employer doesn’t know
I am drinking tea with thyme
And feeling a drizzle on my arms
And watching the low-lying clouds
As they wrap us from up there
Without fretting for a second or an hour
About the little things of the morning hours
The misgivings of the afternoon
And the impatient evening rush hour.
I feel free not to tip the waiter
To the tune of 18%
Our eyes meet and we smile.
I holler like crazy
In the din of the youth throwing dice
And ordering chicken masala,
Cream with saffron and mango juice
The city lights flicker in the misty evening
And the evening lingers
And dabbles with the drizzle
And the drizzle dabbles with my tea
And thyme grows in my backyard
And baby mangoes sprout all around
And their roots curl up
To drink straight from the skies.

Ali H. Raddaoui

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On Imran of Aleppo

Call me a fool
I most likely fit the bill
Though I will not call off
My search among the rubble
For a doll whose face and apparel
Are overly smeared
By dust settling only to rise
From the cloud and maddening din
Of orbiting debris in outer space,
Out of sheer human senselessness
All over, all around, and whichever ways the dust blows…
Son of my Mom
Wherever you care to tread is smithereens
And in the fashion of a weary trooper
You seek an angle, a corner
Of a floundering spandrel
And you lay your head
On a cracked keyboard or a pillow-like piece of brick
To take a break from the clamor of things
And in the midst of your snooze
Something itching inside your mind’s eye
Awakens you
Your instincts speak to you
“Go inspect the fresh fragments which just populated your corner
And comb the litter for your doll”
-Some pursuit with which to kill pain -
To fool yourself into thinking this nonsense will stop and that you can actually breathe into the womb of your doll so she starts strolling with you amid the shrapnel miraculously metastasizing into petals, pollen-carrying bees, and hum-drum green streets with kids walking back home from school and street vendors singing the praises of their shawarmas and Kamaruddin drinks and sundry other formerly uncelebrated little happenings and the little tender life in your palm waving her hand to another across the street amid the honking of cars by folks honoring the hustle and bustle of their lives,
And if you’re lucky
You’ll wake up for the fifth year in a row
With a slab on your chest
Dust in your nostrils
And blood gushing out of a vein under your knee
And a piece of smoldering concrete
Laying squarely on your camera
And your little baby doll
In her eternal sleep
And in the havoc being wreaked, they manage to stitch your limb, press your shirt around the bloody thing, and dust off your eyes so you can continue, against all odds, to inspect the wreckage for your living baby doll.

Friday, August 19, 2016


And then, at times, you find yourself
Placing the time pieces
And you smile for a while
But oftentimes you find pieces right there
Staring at you
Daring you to do or undo
What’s been done with you
And the days dash to their ends
And the nights mutate into dawns 
And before you could gasp
To gasp for breath
You hit a ditch
Out of which you labor to pull your weight
Off the grime of the evening
And strain to walk
Against flat land
Using ropes and pegs
Placed by ancient and fresh climbers
On the canvas of time
And on the brink of space
All you do is sweat  
To avert small rock and avalanche
Gosh, is this what's it's all about?
In my tender years I was told
You'll clear the plots 
And place only furnishings 
Of your own choice
And you'll walk straight
To the no-man's land
Where your mind
Draws the maps
Designs the universe
Sets it in order 
And hoists an orderly fence
And you will lead a full life
With no closure or anguish in sight…
On third thoughts though
It will be wise to surmise
That the final draft
The author plots
Will prevail at all costs.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


A long pent-up Mount Etna
Suffuses the dark Catanian sky
With charcoal red,
Numbs the alabaster
Curvy hills with flame
That slowly flows a mile
Curls, then rests,
Scintillating just a while;
Drops of dew,
Hanging on to leaves of grass
Meaning to twitch the seed
Before mutating into vapor.

Etna, you might say,
Is a local upheaval,
A curse, an earmark of hellish wrath.
But no!
It's rather a healing move,
Rectification, not cacophony,
Not self-incrimination.
Sicily's in love with Etna,
And Etna with Sicily.

Ali H. Raddaoui

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


In the evening of tomorrow,
The sun will set on my canoe
And my eyes.
I don’t know where the waters will take me.
During the day, 
The river meanders
Its bed knows where it goes.
My eyes befriend its path
Salute its banks
Touch its foliage
And the fauna drinks in plain sight.
My eyes shake hands with its alligators
Greet its tadpoles
Beckon its birds…
In the dead of the night,
The river’s the river;
But is the river
The river?
Ahead of me
May be my day
But only maybe.
What turns and slopes?
How steep are the slopes?
Are there pills to dispel my fears?
And systems firmly in place to steer clear of swirls
Any hard shoulders?
How about tributaries, 
Currents running upstream,
And other natural safe exits?
No, no, no!
I shall not now
Go back home
I shall continue my stroll.