Saturday, December 3, 2016


Something there is that draws me yonder
Beyond lunch and tea, dinner in the veranda
And the clamor of supper, the frying of eggs
With oil at midnight, and the bells of the morning
Ushering me yet again into another day in heaven.
What it is I can only wonder;
I shall comb for  answers and ponder
Their curves each against the other for years on end.
For, truth be told, mine here is a world of order
Straight, nifty, almost too spick and span
For the type of character I am, with nothing the matter,
Almost conformant to the world order.
From my promontory on the ivory tower
I have peeked many a time into the skyline
Beyond ramparts, halls, citadels, fences and walls.
My mind’s eye traverses the slabs of concrete
Bypasses bridges, quarters and blocks
Asphalted roads, overpasses,
And the finishings of sidewalks
Alleyways, highways, and the haze beyond
To fly and to land I know not where
Still nowhere.


Ali H. Raddaoui

Friday, November 25, 2016


This mass of water
On the west-side border
Has been our Godfather
Three, four, score years or more
So far back as we can remember
I do recall, it was only yesterday
Our granddad in his last hour
Motioning we never ever
As much as dare to start to picture
To break asunder
Our merger with the water
For he’s our protector
From the whims of the Vandals and the Visigoths
Across the water
Over our dominions
Here and yonder
His wings hover
He’s for sure
Our bread provider
Our raison d’être together
Our day-to-day oxygen
And our number one friend
In our hour of need.
And this is our hour of need
And now all Water does is to recede
His flow bathes no more
Our cliffs and shores
Nor has His ebb in His retreat
Taken leave of our dad
Out of protocol
Or merely in honor
Of our just gone by
Golden jubilee. 

Ali H. Raddaoui

Friday, October 14, 2016


Listen to me brother
Lend me your ears
The hour of truth is drawing near
And protocol can go to hell
I got to share my fears,
Like they are with you
Here in my inner heart
I am using my last back channel
There may be many an eavesdropper
But I don’t care one iota
And it probably doesn’t matter to you
That I utter or do not utter what I utter
And you likely know before hand
The call I mean to deliver
Heart to heart, without interpreter
Listen to me, if you care
I am speaking to you
From behind closed doors
Maybe for the last time ever
I want to say in confidence
If I may
Like we have for scores of years
Please, please, por favor, señor
Though your response will likely be “No more”
I take a chance anyhow
For this maybe my last chance
The afternoon hours are behind us
And quite frankly,
Evening has overtaken me
You know we’re well-nigh brothers
We’ve shared bed and bread
As brother with brother would
We suckled the same udder
And the cord that fed us both
Digs deep into the womb of our mother
And I have shared my everything with you
So far as I remember
Gold, land, space, water, what have you
I want us bonded as brother to brother for good
For the good and the bad
But you’re leaving me
In my darkest hour
I thought we’d always walk together
Forever, hand in hand
I will wait for you
My elder brother
To change your mind
For after all is said and done
And is nearly gone, there is no one to turn to
Other than you

Only you, my brother.

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.