Donia Mounsef

Tilted Ladders

                    The siege is a waiting period
                    Waiting on the tilted ladder in the middle of the storm
                                                                          Mahmoud Darwish

Hanging suspended on bridges to nowhere,
below, a fast moving river that may or

may not dump in the Atlantic, how should I know?
geography retires when you’re transient.

Leonard Cohen wailing from the one
working speaker... it must be illegal to feel this way,

between two lands, two homes, two guarded duty frees,
where you can buy cigarettes and rum, but no smile.

I am in a state of siege between two borders,
following orders to move or stay, go or wait,

advance, retreat,
by a dog and his human in riot gear.

A 49th parallel paralleling patrols of petrified purity,
his jaws is our fate,

he wanted to know how we relate,
“How are you associated? MA’AM?”

“Partners,” I said to soothe his homophobic discontent.
“Like, business PARTNERS?” he asks,

“No, like bed partners,” I replied.
He feels more justified than ever to dislike

this unruly dyke who is about to be arrested
for thinking of your breasts on the Rainbow Bridge.

They are exceptionally perky perched
persnickety in my punctilious right palm,

a controlled substance, a forbidden delight, a slight
of hand for the grand chief of this land.

You and I are big sista’s terroristas, laying in wait
in the eye of two storms, fueling the twista’,

drafty dodgers, conscious resisters,
the salt in the cake,

the bleeding raw steak, the reason the law
gets out of bed in the morning.

You, at least, were born in New Scotland,
on a beach engraved on red fifty-dollar bills,

me, I am naturalized Canadian,
unnatural, denatural, endentured to a document

24 pages long, with the head of the Queen,
and her heirs, I must swear to,

staring sanctimoniously at my sacrilegious dare.
I was flung into this world in the seventh city

of jasmine and incense, on a rocky shore,
the pearl of the orient

disoriented, rented, indented, ointed,
with cedar bark from a holy valley

of saints dancing among demons.
And I am bented, accented, can’t repent

from what torments them about difference.
They hide their non-sense behind loaded guns.

In a world governed by terror,
queer love becomes a form of resistance,

trapped between two stances,
two flags, two banks, two waterfalls, two watch towers,

two chances to fall into a raging river of hate,
jaw spurned, upturned, interned, churned

by the pure-bred German shepherd
with a charming white canine smile.

Donia Mounsef was born and lived in Beirut, Lebanon until the age of 19. She is a Canadian-Lebanese poet, playwright and dramaturge. She teaches theatre and poetry at the University of Alberta, Canada. She is the author of a poetry collection: Plimsoll Lines (Forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press), and a chapbook: Slant of Arils, published by Damaged Goods Press (2015), Her writing has been published and anthologized in print and online in The Bookends Review, Linden Avenue, Gravel Magazine, The Toronto Quarterly, Labor of Love, Bluestem, Yes Poetry, Gutter Eloquence, Poetry Quarterly, Skin 2 Skin, Iris Brown, Reverie’s Rage Queer People of Color Anthology, 40 Below Anthology, etc.