Friday, August 30, 2013

My Favorite Poems - more to come

Shakespeare's SONNET 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee. 

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Daffodils By: William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Carnivores Odyssey

I have been eating meat for as long as I can remember. My forte into flesh consumption started with the ever so ominous Happy Meals. I devoured the puck like hamburgers with such vigor to ensure that I got the toy. My mom would keep it hostage until I finished my meal. My affinity for potato sides dishes also has its roots in those Happy Meal days. As I grew older and my palate became more sophisticated, but not by much, I graduated from hamburgers with french fires on the side to Parmesan mash accompanying my well done steak. Nevertheless, I still get a bit nostalgic upon passing a McDonald's. I smile at the thought of my nephews and niece experiencing the same joy from the cardboard happiness of Happy Meals.

Growing up in Cairo, Egypt, my daily school lunch was a cheese and egg sandwich. My mother made it for me every morning, that is until I started middle school and was thus informed to wake up earlier and make my own lunch. I decided to skip a mid-day grub in return for a few extra minutes of morning snooze. Nevertheless, on the rare occasion we had cold cuts and cheddar cheese, I'd brown bag it that day. Always opting for smoked turkey slices. We couldn't afford to buy such delicacies on regular bases. It was always a treat when the parchment wrapped packages of deli sliced meat and cheese appeared in the fridge. I'd make my infamous Amira Wraps, spreading cream cheese directly on the turkey meat, placing peeled slices of cucumber in the center, and rolling it up. I'd imagine that I was a refined socialite eating hors d'oeuvres at a soiree.

I continued to eat meat, a medley of beef and chicken, never warming up to lamb or mutton.   I enjoyed cooking with meat, incorporating a variety of spice blends to transform the cuts. I had a strong preference for chicken and turkey. Every special occasion was celebrated with a meaty center piece. Ramadan feasts were always infested with an array of meat dishes from Kofta, bread encrusted cutlets, fired chicken, to mince meat laced pasta, as if the only sustenance to combat our daily fast was meat.  Again, I enjoyed these dishes immensely. However, the older I got, the more difficult it became for me to digest meat, literary. It all started with McMeals. Yes, at the very ripe age of 37, I still enjoy the occasional Big Mac. After consuming a McBurger, my body would revolt. My forehead broke out in sweat, heart beat raced, and digestive system expanded with the strain of breaking down the alien ingredients. I wrote it off as post McDonald's stress. I noticed that these symptoms reoccurred, yet on a smaller scale, upon eating beef. I'd always follow my meat meals with a digestive aid of green tea, not sure if the relief was real or placebo. With every bite, it became harder and harder to ingest beef. I turned to chicken and fish for solace, chalking it up to old age.

In December 2011, I moved to Long Island, New York. With Brooklyn and Queens in the vicinity and a diverse Muslim community, there is an abundance of halal meat (as a Muslim, I can only eat meat that has been butchered and prepared in a certain manner). However, access to halal meat vendors is conditioned to owning a car. Having failed to obtain a US driver's license, I opted to become a vegetarian instead of commuting 2+ hours by train and bus to procure meat. Yet, on special occasions, I allowed myself to indulge as I recited Besemel Allah El Rahman El Raheem (in the name of God the merciful and compassionate) before scarfing down the sinful meat. One of such occasions was the Feast Holiday, celebrating the end of Ramadan. After a month of fasting, I decided to reward myself with a big juicy burger. I selected a local restaurant near my apartment in Rockville Center. I called in my order while at work to guarantee that it'll be ready for pickup on my way home. After two weeks have passed, I can finally bring myself to write about the traumatizing experience. The beef paddy was bland, tasteless and over cooked. The delectable onion rings, as described on the menu, turned out to be soggy thinly sliced fried onions. I spent the entire meal wondering what the white paste like sauce was, until the metallic aftertaste reminded me that the burger was promised to be dressed with a creamy horse radish condiment. The side fries were salty and stale. I was too hungry, with an empty fridge, to forgo this poor offering. Two hours later, indigestion set in. Had I not known better, I could have been fooled in assuming that I suffered a heart attack. A warm cup of ginger tea could have remedied my misery, but I was too disposed to make it. Fearing I was suffering from food poisoning and wouldn't be able to attend a book signing the next day, I tried to purge my body of the atrocious burger, but to no avail.  I woke up the next day feeling a bit better, yet I was cautious with what I ate. I had planned to go to the Shake Shack for lunch. I had grilled halibut instead. It is on that day that I decided to become a full time vegetarian, relegating my meat eating days of yonder to the memories of my wasted youth.

The Plight of a Mundane Life

Suit & Tie
Breakfast, Goodbye
Coffee on train
Commute, insane

Office, Chair
Computer, Despair
Meeting
Meeting
Meeting
Life fleeting
Hope depleting

Lunch
Grind
Boredom
Sublime

Home, to bed
Hope is dead
Reset to play
Again next day

The Myth of Hope

V2.0 Date: 28 Aug 2013

Kernel of Hope in a sea of despair
Breaks your heart apart, 
half Love, half Sorrow
Holding both within, side by side

Hope is cruel
Hope is harsh
Hope is gone

Darkness of lonely nights remains
Skies twinkle with memories past
Northern stars guiding the way
Follow blindly, what else to do?
Over a ledge, up a mountain
Same memories, different journeys
Never get what we hope for
Always get what we hope not
Accept who we are. Take life as it is
Death's the only truth, all else is chance

Hope is fake
Hope is wrong
Hope is gone

False hope of memories to come
A nightmare of lies concoct
To raise our fall up so high
We fall from hope, hope'll die
No hopes. No dreams.
No wants. No Needs
Hours, Days, Breaths, Beats
Till we breathe no more
Till we pump no blood

Hope to die
Hope to death
Hope's a lie

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V1.0 Date: 21 Aug 2013

A Kernel of Hope dropped in a sea of despair
Breaks your heart in two, half love, half sorrow
You carry both within you, side by side

Hope is gone, the darkness of lonely nights remains
Skies shine bright with smiles of memories you had
Northern stars guiding you through the dark forrest
You follow blindly. What else can you do? 
They'll lead your over a ledge or up a mountain
Same memories, different journeys
Darkness never leaves, happiness never comes

They keep you on track, despite you
Is it a betrayal? 
False hope of more memories
We continue but nothing comes