Sharif Dumani

St. Oblivion

I painted a halo over you
and christened you Saint Oblivion.
Baptized in the name of self-destruction.
Your destiny was never to be saved,
nor was it ever to save,
the course was always to implode
into tiny bits of sorrow
like ashes that slowly follow
any way in which wind blows.
Pushing in every direction
the embers fall like snow.
The burning heat of anger,
the raging fire of hurt,
set to self destruct
when you have never known your worth.

Stand up.
Rise from the ashes.

_________________________

December 25, 2017

Wandering. Weeping. Looming. It’s inescapable. With just over 4 million people living in the city of lost angels, a place, on the surface, of abundance and opportunity.

The place of my birth, with churches on nearly every street corner that may or may not be used as fronts for money laundering, open to those awaiting salvation.

Parks still hold the sanctity of the people. Baptize me in the local lakes and reservoirs. The bells that ring each hour across Echo Park Lake bring the familiarity of home, even as I am lost deep within. On the grass, across pigeons hunting for daily meals, no more than fifty feet from the water, I feel like screaming out “Find me. Anyone. Save me.” On land, but drowning. Everyday drowning. I can barely breathe anymore.  It is a weight that has now become an unavoidable burden. An anchor that has me stationed to a place that is unsafe for me to be. I went to a group meeting this afternoon. I needed to be around people. Only four showed. What did I expect? It’s Christmas day. But I am grateful for the four. I awkwardly stomached my way through the hour and fifteen. My alternative was far worse. Isolation is not good for me, although it tends to be a default setting. With nowhere to go after, I went to the park we used to lay our blankets and jackets across. A place where the local acoustic troubadour sprinkled his lonely sound through the air for lovers, passerby, drug addicts, picnic dwellers, and chump change. We used to kiss to his sound. A sound so pure it was destined for only its neighborhood. Free from the confinement of mass marketability. Strictly local, forever impoverished, but nurtured, survivable, and above all, valued. It is destiny and for greater purpose beyond one single individual. A spiritual sanctity designated for the highest purpose…love. He was not here on this day. A day I needed him most. Instead six cyclists smoking pot sitting in front of me with “wish you were hear” playing through a boom box occupied the same space and sentiment. Life’s cosmic joke, but I succumbed to it and embraced it for all it was worth. After all, its sentiment was the very reason I was here in this park. I waited hours. Like a dog waiting for a loved one who was never going to come home. Through cold chill, hunger, flashbacks, and deep longing, I waited. Pretending that if I concentrated hard enough, long enough, and called out to you, somewhere, out there, you would hear me, and if things were meant to be you would appear. As each hour passed, my heart slowly cracked. Chipping away, flakes of it falling into the water, until eventually it shattered with pieces barely holding together. Only a few burning man-type gypsy dwellers living in their van, the six wasted cyclists in front of me now reduced to three, the Asian lady collecting their beer cans and bottles, and a few local gentrifiers taking selfies by the lake, surrounded me. Anything is better than isolation. At least I’m not alone on Christmas day.

_________________________

Sharif Dumani is a musician, writer, and poet from Los Angeles, Ca., currently completing his MLIS for 2018 at UCLA. He has played with musical groups Future Shoxxx, Exploding Flowers, Alice Bag band, Sex Stains, the Moon Upstairs, and Cody Chesnutt, as well as stints recording or backing artists ranging from electronic pioneers Silver Apples, Jowe Head (Swell Maps, Television Personalities), the Tyde, and the late-60’s psych-pop troubadour, Nick Garrie. He has done writing contributions and collage work in the second and third anthology series Penny-Ante #2 and Penny-Ante #3 on Penny Ante editions, co-created Sex Stains: “Exposed” zine, contributed written pieces in Flash No. 1 zine and The Love Zine (in conjunction with 2015’s annual L.A. Zine Fest) on Repel Industries, and contributed pieces in Coiled Serpents: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts in Los Angeles anthology, Tia Chucha Press. Sharif Dumani will be releasing his first book entitled, “I Am A Hurricane: Poems and Short Stories” with illustrations by artist Trina Turturici, and a free digital download of original songs backed by current and former members of White Fence and the Oh Sees, out March 2018.