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Issa Sep 2021
I see:
White skin, short black hair;
The tall frame of yours walking
and walking and running
Running alongside your father…

Running inside my mind
Laps and laps around longings and memories,
While an uncertain despair sinks deep into my stomach:
The thought that…
maybe you’ll never care as much as I do.

But I still see you
Dropping on one knee on the grass,
Searching with a flashlight to show
The bright-eyed little boys the little spider I found and was now running free

I still see you
Dropping on one knee
To tie that one boy’s shoelaces,
That little namesake of yours.

This was from years ago—
But I’ll never forget, though you may have already
Small moments of you… being you:
Caring and careful…

And I eventually realized it was characteristic of you to hold the door open for me one day;
That it was nothing special, just you… being you
but I’m glad to have seen that.

And I hope you don’t decipher this because knowing that I love you may be disastrous
maybe you’ll never care as much as I do.
Issa Mar 2020
Eyes as light as the green leaves tinged by sunlight--
Hair as gentle as the vines that twine along the garden wall--
Though you are older than me,
Your laugh is as young as a little boy's

When I lived in that city made of dreams
I never dreamed I'd meet someone like you
And, while you are so unexpected,
so new and unanticipated,
Why do you now remind me of that place
Which I know like the back of my hand?

Why is it that, as I struggle to find the words to describe you
and how you represent many a thing that's new
in this life of mine,

Why is it that I go back to that place I've left?
Why do I describe you in terms of the memories
My heart aches so bad to return to?

You and I have talked about this --
wishing to go back to those times well-cherished...
I know I haven't fully healed yet.
And I know you haven't, too.

For someone who's been through a war
Battered and worn by grief,
Why does your heart still seem tender and soft?

Why do you care so much for others
When so much has been taken away from you?

God only knows.

God only knows why I met you.
God only knows when I'll tell you about
What makes my heart whole
And what keeps me at peace,
Even if I can't explain everything that's happened to me
Even when it hurts and I feel like no one else understands me

Because it's Peace that will mend your heart
--Nothing missing; nothing broken--
You were made to be beautiful for a reason.
Because the Creator, the Artist who made you makes
Everything beautiful in His time,
Everything beautiful in its season.

And though the world sends you its lies,
Know that you are His work of art.
His purpose for you is to have hope and a future,
For He has set eternity in your heart.

There can be a day
When all your tears will be wiped away
By the hands that made you,
By the hands that saved you.

Though much has been taken away from you,
I believe there will come a day, my brother,
When you will meet that King, that good and perfect Father who will show you your true worth.
You are worthy not because of anything you do.
You are worthy because of what He did for you.
You are worthy because of His love for you.
And if you let Him, He will heal you.
He will heal all your wounds with gold.

Glinting in the sunlight--
Nothing missing;
Nothing broken.
In thinking up a title for this poem, I finally know what the band name Nemra means 😂
Issa Aug 2017
When I first met you, I didn't make friends with you right away. I thought you were an unmovable rock and I didn’t try pushing to start a conversation with you because I feared it would be an awkward one - as fleeting as a stone skipped across the water - and I thought you weren’t worth it.

I circumnavigated you for weeks on end. You were a quiet, windless lake, and I never thought it would be possible to hear you speak to me because there was no common ground between us. We didn’t find a piece of thread to tie our makeshift tin-can telephone together.

Yet, one day, there was a time I needed to ask someone for help. Of course, you were not my first choice. If everyone else wasn’t busy, I would never have broken my silence with you that day.

What was it that I needed? I wanted to know the translation of one, tiny foreign word I discovered attached to two blocks of stone set into a necklace. You were about to walk away, but I mustered my courage to tap your back and ask a question. When you answered, I understood that the word was a symbol for war and separation.

Ironically, it was the word that bridged the gap; the thread that made a way for us to exchange our first, real words with each other.

Artsakh. It was the word that made us friends.

Artsakh* sparked a conversation between us, and I was surprised because you were interested enough in our first exchange to share a story, which led to another, and then another.

The words you spoke to me in your feathery-soft voice splashed ice-cold water in the face of my parched first impression of you. You were no longer an unmovable rock - no, you were a broken rock from which streams of cool water gushed out. I washed my eyes from that stream and saw you as a new friend who opened up his life to me after a long time of silence.

One of the reasons why I found you so difficult to talk to was that you always hid your eyes under tea- or black coffee-coloured glasses. I have always believed that eyes are the windows to the soul, and when you cover yours, it’s like you’ve barred up your soul from the outside world.

Then, one afternoon, maybe because it was too hot or too dark inside the room - I don’t really know the reason - you took off your corrective lenses. And for the first time, I finally saw your eyes. They were a darker shade than your cinnamon-coloured hair, and I was taken aback because they were so beautiful.

I knew that I had to tell you what I thought, because maybe the reason why you always covered them up was that you were insecure about them or with your inability to see rightly with them. Since beauty always garners admiration, I also needed to mask the affection that suddenly bubbled up inside me. I wanted to bury it, and I did get to lay it to rest - but, I used a glass coffin.

If I succeeded in putting it six feet under, I wouldn’t have abandoned my books, cut off my sleeves, and waited under the shade of a tree with our friends during a hot day for you. At least I was rewarded with seeing your eyes again.

Of course you noticed me, and I had to shield myself from the rays of your bright gaze to hide the fact that I could hear fists pounding and small cracks forming on the glass coffin inside me. I looked at it and saw a huge spider web etched on the surface.

I’m not sure if I should replace it or allow it to shatter. But I feel like filling it up with cement because I need peace to think about things that are more important than thinking about how I feel about you.

What is it that I like about you? Beyond your eyes, obviously, I also like how you’re more quiet than everyone else - and despite that, you’ve let me in and let me become a part of your story.

Yet when I see you, I try not to see the reserved and silent expression you wear everyday, but I peer into the future to find you doing great exploits and baring your iron soul which has found the great power to influence within.

Because I’ve seen glimpses of that soul--like the time I asked you to write down your dream on my journal. I read that you wanted to be good at the career you chose, and that you wanted to help people.

The other friends whom I also asked to write their dreams usually wrote variations of the first part of your dream, but they didn’t usually express the second part. So I like how you included that you wanted to help.

I hope we will continue to become good friends. And I believe I will be there to witness you building bridges to more people like me, and even a bigger bridge that makes a way for the next generation towards a brighter future for your country.

And I hope for the day when you no longer hide your eyes. Because what they are two diamonds in the rough; two bright suns which will pull out wide smiles from the people around you - and most importantly, out of your own lips.
*Artsakh is an ethnically Armenian territory for which Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting over.
For my friend with an archangel namesake. What do you feel when you make friends with an introvert?
Issa Jul 2015
Rickety shoulders and rickety bones,
No longer is my resolve as stubborn as stone.

For the stifling heat and heart-drum-beats
Have drained it all out of me -

Not a single drop left to drink,
And my fate’s been written in ink.
Issa Mar 2015
God is like a puppeteer,
That He should fashion invisible strings

To move about the dancing stars in the expanse of the midnight sky;
To bathe the Earth with light and wild colours from a new Sun;

To clothe the lofty mountains in snow;
To raise and lower the ocean tides through the pull of the Moon;

To cause foundations to tremble before His earthquakes;
To split the dark horizon with His lightning;

To give the breeze the voice of a gentle whisper;
To embrace the valleys with sweet-smelling grass and fragrant lilies;

To provide song and flight to many birds;
To shake the boughs of a mighty tree and let fall richly delicious fruit…

      So that all these things might call our attention,
Gather us all to sit down before them, watch, and fall silent.

And see
  And listen
   And feel
    And smell
     And taste

The wonders of the glorious show of His love.
  Jan 2015 Issa
A poet's heart isn't like any other...
It's the tears that trickle with radiance through words.
     It's a treasure trove that hides but longs to
     be found.
          It's a book shelved high that wants to
          be read.
               It's the freest of all birds caged but

A poet's heart isn't like any other...
It doesn't beat to the capable strokes of the artist.
     It doesn't pump in the most vibrant of
          It doesn't wield a paintbrush to
          translate its thoughts.
               But it can see through the eyes of

A poet's heart isn't like any other...
It doesn't conform to the conventional parameters of lyrics.
     It doesn't bind itself to the requirements
     of musical harmony.
          It doesn't follow the conventions of
               But it sings its voice loud without
               restrictions of melody...

A poet's heart isn't like any other...
It's an open secret, that whispers in metaphoric codes.
     It's an exploding universe, that merges
     back into galaxies.
          It's a sought after painting, that boasts
          of unfathomable beauty.
               It's an everlasting song, that echoes
               within the poet that embodies...
Dedicated to all of you...

If you're reading this...
This is for you...
Issa Jan 2015
I still listen to music with words
When I am writing words

Sunlight streams through the window
Trees sway outside, with branches scratching the glass window
I smell fresh coffee beans
Starbucks, from the Philippines

A piece of paper flutters down
I look at it with a frown.
And one thing I suddenly recall,
It gives me an idea, a reason to stall

From what I am doing, (hummingbird mind, my friend.)
And I went into an imaginary glen.

With only my pen and my notes
For company, then my mind began to float.

He wrote in the most perfect handwriting
Compared to my scatterbrained black scribbling

He strummed a chord on my heartstrings
Without him even knowing

His name sounded like
the gold-tipped wings
of angels.
While mine sat on the
brown earth,
dreaming to the skies.

Though, once we'd meet once a week
And I would smile in the hallways
looking like a freak

There was always something idiotic
the way his teeth stuck out like a bunny's
He reminded me of Ishaan from
Taare Zameen Par
A dyslexic student, great artist, had a smile so sunny.

I'm playing Owl City on my mp3
That's our secret anthem

Tears were there
The melody from the speakers
I wished I could've sat beside you
When your fingers waltzed over the black-and-white keys
Now I'm sitting all alone by myself
Tapping on black-and-white letters on the Mac

Even though I play the violin
I can't accompany you
My bow screeching against the strings
Just doesn't do your mesmerising piano justice

What I can only do is write
And draw with a cheap ballpen from a meeting hall
I will draw your eyes and your crooked grin.
And my dreams of you that remain unfulfilled.

I finish the poem
Rip the page out of my notebook
And tape it to the wall with my other works
and newspaper clippings, oh just look.

Tomorrow I take it down again
Slip it into an envelope
Wonder if I should buy a stamp.
Maybe mail it overseas with forlorn hope.

A month passes by,
The envelope gathers dust under my bed.
Oh my darling, oh my darling
The chances with you are hanging by a thread

We're going to fly back home once more
So I decide to get you a keepsake from here.
A wooden owl, carved by hand
I slip the poem inside, thinking what you'd think when it appears…
Winter Silk. You may somehow get this.
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