Monday, November 16, 2009

Beirut Journal Day #10: 'A night. A man. A city."

November 16, 2009

The other night I set out to shoot some pictures on the Corniche. It was after midnight, and I figured that’d be the best time to get a solid feel for this place, sans tourists or students. My endeavors earned me stern warnings from a young hooligan, and a proposition to “do some things” from one of the young cruisers. And there it is: Beirut in a nutshell. Separate invitations to violence & love (well, sex, at any rate); two ends of the spectrum, on the same street.

Two hours later, & over 200 pictures shot, I stumbled through my apartment door. I’m going to use the pictures to create a photopoem in tribute to my friend, the late Haas Mroue. His heart attacked him, here in Beirut, two years ago, and this city is without its kindest native son.
He wrote a book a number of years ago called “Beirut Seizures.” If you can find it, you deserve a medal. It’s a collection of poems about the 15 year “civil” war here. A war that he lived through. The title of this journal entry comes from one of the poems within it.

The project will look something like this: a series of pictures of this place, with poems (his, mine, possibly June’s) incorporated somehow. Along with music. I’m thinking a slideshow, as well as actual photos, enlarged & framed.
Anyone I talk to asks me what I’m doing here, or why I came in the first place. I never have a clear answer for them. Mostly because I figured that I’d find my purpose here, here.
And now I have. Here’s a few that may or may not make the cut for this project:

Beirut
At night
Heels scuff corrugated streets
Lovers
And killers
Fall into each other
There can be no other

Beirut
The only city in the world
*
Shebab (young men) link limbs
A chain across the Corniche
And they dance in line
Laughter thunders from their mouths
I can’t tell their religion
One of them shuffles up to me
‘you should go
There’s going to be a problem’

They are not drunk
They have stopped their dance
But are still chained
Together

Beirut.
*
I navigate alleyways
And sidestreets end up
On Rue Bliss
Where young men angle
Porsches up to the sidewalk
They belt their girlfriends
Trophies
Into passenger seats
They slather ketchup
On hot dogs
And vomit Mc Donald’s into gutters

Up the street a 20 year old
Soldier
Sits on a flimsy white patio chair
His machine gun slung across
Quadriceps
He drags on
A Gauloises cigarette

When one war ends another
Breaks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'Beirut Seizures' may be hard to find but there are 3 poems from it here: http://www.mixednerve.org/pages/fourth-issue/poetry/haas.html

BTW, nice to see you writing lots again, fella