We Shall Not Remain Silent

We shall never remain silent

       (for El Mutanabi Street and Iraq)

and now

what can we say

of Iraq,

of the El  Mutanabbi street bookstore,

what can we say

of all the delicate pottery in the Iraqi National Museum,

what can we say of the highest educational level in the Middle East,

what can we say about the best medical care

in the middle east,

what can we say about these years that have

been preserved since the time

of Hammurabi, since men climbed

out of the Tigris and Euphrates

created statues, books, knowledge

beyond what the world had known,

the world famous Baghdad Library,

 

but we can say

we know who threw the bombs,

the missiles,

who destroyed the dams,

the rivers,

the hospitals

the schools

the museums

the universities

we know the ignorant who came to destroy

the mosques

the churches

the synagogues

the science labs

the CAT scan machines

the Xray machines

the research centers in medicine

the homes

the fathers

the mothers

the sisters

the brothers

the sons

the daughters

the unborn children

should we count them all,

should we just stand here

as if is done, and we should remain

silent

and walk away

 

they would have us remain silent

they would have us walk away

but for us, there shall be no silence

there shall be no walking away

 

we shall keep this history alive

we shall talk, we shall write

of the barbarians who came,

first the mongol hordes from  Asia,

after Ibn Khaldun tried to convince Ibn Timur

to save the library and the city, he burned it anyway,

then the mongol hordes for America, from

England, from France,

bombing, burning, stealing,

we shall remember them aloud

we shall remember them on paper

we shall condemn them

as we have condemned them from

time before they came to destroy Baghdad

before they came to destroy

Islam, before they came

to steal the oil,

to destroy mankind’s history,

we shall condemn them in every breath

in every word,

for these massacres of humans

of history

of what was

and could be, that has

been shattered, but we

know, it shall come again,

and the hordes that raped this land

just like Ibn Timur who burned the library,

the Western powers that came, will fade away

with their history in shame,

and these rivers, these laws of Allah and Hammurabi

will rise again, as will the saying of Jesus and Moses,

they shall rise again

as will this famous bookstore, this museum,

these universities, these mosques, these churches,

these synagogues, these children,

will reclaim their own land, will yank it away

from the Americans, the English, the French

and we shall join them

as they spit on those who have harmed

the beautiful land and its  people

 

no, we shall not be silent

we shall never walk away

our words

our hearts

their words

the hearts

their sorrows

their rebirth will remain

so long as men have memories

so long as men have books to read

and so long as men know that in the end

only good will prevail,

inshallah, inshallah

inshallah

 

 

c: sam hamod  7.2.11

We shall never remain silent

       (for El Mutanabi Street and Iraq)

and now

what can we say

of Iraq,

of the El  Mutanabbi street bookstore,

what can we say

of all the delicate pottery in the Iraqi National Museum,

what can we say of the highest educational level in the Middle East,

what can we say about the best medical care

in the middle east,

what can we say about these years that have

been preserved since the time

of Hammurabi, since men climbed

out of the Tigris and Euphrates

created statues, books, knowledge

beyond what the world had known,

the world famous Baghdad Library,

 

but we can say

we know who threw the bombs,

the missiles,

who destroyed the dams,

the rivers,

the hospitals

the schools

the museums

the universities

we know the ignorant who came to destroy

the mosques

the churches

the synagogues

the science labs

the CAT scan machines

the Xray machines

the research centers in medicine

the homes

the fathers

the mothers

the sisters

the brothers

the sons

the daughters

the unborn children

should we count them all,

should we just stand here

as if is done, and we should remain

silent

and walk away

 

they would have us remain silent

they would have us walk away

but for us, there shall be no silence

there shall be no walking away

 

we shall keep this history alive

we shall talk, we shall write

of the barbarians who came,

first the mongol hordes from  Asia,

after Ibn Khaldun tried to convince Ibn Timur

to save the library and the city, he burned it anyway,

then the mongol hordes for America, from

England, from France,

bombing, burning, stealing,

we shall remember them aloud

we shall remember them on paper

we shall condemn them

as we have condemned them from

time before they came to destroy Baghdad

before they came to destroy

Islam, before they came

to steal the oil,

to destroy mankind’s history,

we shall condemn them in every breath

in every word,

for these massacres of humans

of history

of what was

and could be, that has

been shattered, but we

know, it shall come again,

and the hordes that raped this land

just like Ibn Timur who burned the library,

the Western powers that came, will fade away

with their history in shame,

and these rivers, these laws of Allah and Hammurabi

will rise again, as will the saying of Jesus and Moses,

they shall rise again

as will this famous bookstore, this museum,

these universities, these mosques, these churches,

these synagogues, these children,

will reclaim their own land, will yank it away

from the Americans, the English, the French

and we shall join them

as they spit on those who have harmed

the beautiful land and its  people

 

no, we shall not be silent

we shall never walk away

our words

our hearts

their words

the hearts

their sorrows

their rebirth will remain

so long as men have memories

so long as men have books to read

and so long as men know that in the end

only good will prevail,

inshallah, inshallah

inshallah

 

 

c: sam hamod  7.2.11

We shall never remain silent

       (for El Mutanabi Street and Iraq)

and now

what can we say

of Iraq,

of the El  Mutanabbi street bookstore,

what can we say

of all the delicate pottery in the Iraqi National Museum,

what can we say of the highest educational level in the Middle East,

what can we say about the best medical care

in the middle east,

what can we say about these years that have

been preserved since the time

of Hammurabi, since men climbed

out of the Tigris and Euphrates

created statues, books, knowledge

beyond what the world had known,

the world famous Baghdad Library,

 

but we can say

we know who threw the bombs,

the missiles,

who destroyed the dams,

the rivers,

the hospitals

the schools

the museums

the universities

we know the ignorant who came to destroy

the mosques

the churches

the synagogues

the science labs

the CAT scan machines

the Xray machines

the research centers in medicine

the homes

the fathers

the mothers

the sisters

the brothers

the sons

the daughters

the unborn children

should we count them all,

should we just stand here

as if is done, and we should remain

silent

and walk away

 

they would have us remain silent

they would have us walk away

but for us, there shall be no silence

there shall be no walking away

 

we shall keep this history alive

we shall talk, we shall write

of the barbarians who came,

first the mongol hordes from  Asia,

after Ibn Khaldun tried to convince Ibn Timur

to save the library and the city, he burned it anyway,

then the mongol hordes for America, from

England, from France,

bombing, burning, stealing,

we shall remember them aloud

we shall remember them on paper

we shall condemn them

as we have condemned them from

time before they came to destroy Baghdad

before they came to destroy

Islam, before they came

to steal the oil,

to destroy mankind’s history,

we shall condemn them in every breath

in every word,

for these massacres of humans

of history

of what was

and could be, that has

been shattered, but we

know, it shall come again,

and the hordes that raped this land

just like Ibn Timur who burned the library,

the Western powers that came, will fade away

with their history in shame,

and these rivers, these laws of Allah and Hammurabi

will rise again, as will the saying of Jesus and Moses,

they shall rise again

as will this famous bookstore, this museum,

these universities, these mosques, these churches,

these synagogues, these children,

will reclaim their own land, will yank it away

from the Americans, the English, the French

and we shall join them

as they spit on those who have harmed

the beautiful land and its  people

 

no, we shall not be silent

we shall never walk away

our words

our hearts

their words

the hearts

their sorrows

their rebirth will remain

so long as men have memories

so long as men have books to read

and so long as men know that in the end

only good will prevail,

inshallah, inshallah

inshallah

 

 

c: sam hamod  7.2.11

We shall never remain silent

       (for El Mutanabi Street and Iraq)

and now

what can we say

of Iraq,

of the El  Mutanabbi street bookstore,

what can we say

of all the delicate pottery in the Iraqi National Museum,

what can we say of the highest educational level in the Middle East,

what can we say about the best medical care

in the middle east,

what can we say about these years that have

been preserved since the time

of Hammurabi, since men climbed

out of the Tigris and Euphrates

created statues, books, knowledge

beyond what the world had known,

the world famous Baghdad Library,

 

but we can say

we know who threw the bombs,

the missiles,

who destroyed the dams,

the rivers,

the hospitals

the schools

the museums

the universities

we know the ignorant who came to destroy

the mosques

the churches

the synagogues

the science labs

the CAT scan machines

the Xray machines

the research centers in medicine

the homes

the fathers

the mothers

the sisters

the brothers

the sons

the daughters

the unborn children

should we count them all,

should we just stand here

as if is done, and we should remain

silent

and walk away

 

they would have us remain silent

they would have us walk away

but for us, there shall be no silence

there shall be no walking away

 

we shall keep this history alive

we shall talk, we shall write

of the barbarians who came,

first the mongol hordes from  Asia,

after Ibn Khaldun tried to convince Ibn Timur

to save the library and the city, he burned it anyway,

then the mongol hordes for America, from

England, from France,

bombing, burning, stealing,

we shall remember them aloud

we shall remember them on paper

we shall condemn them

as we have condemned them from

time before they came to destroy Baghdad

before they came to destroy

Islam, before they came

to steal the oil,

to destroy mankind’s history,

we shall condemn them in every breath

in every word,

for these massacres of humans

of history

of what was

and could be, that has

been shattered, but we

know, it shall come again,

and the hordes that raped this land

just like Ibn Timur who burned the library,

the Western powers that came, will fade away

with their history in shame,

and these rivers, these laws of Allah and Hammurabi

will rise again, as will the saying of Jesus and Moses,

they shall rise again

as will this famous bookstore, this museum,

these universities, these mosques, these churches,

these synagogues, these children,

will reclaim their own land, will yank it away

from the Americans, the English, the French

and we shall join them

as they spit on those who have harmed

the beautiful land and its  people

 

no, we shall not be silent

we shall never walk away

our words

our hearts

their words

the hearts

their sorrows

their rebirth will remain

so long as men have memories

so long as men have books to read

and so long as men know that in the end

only good will prevail,

inshallah, inshallah

inshallah

 

 

c: sam hamod  7.2.11

We shall never remain silent

       (for El Mutanabi Street and Iraq)

and now

what can we say

of Iraq,

of the El  Mutanabbi street bookstore,

what can we say

of all the delicate pottery in the Iraqi National Museum,

what can we say of the highest educational level in the Middle East,

what can we say about the best medical care

in the middle east,

what can we say about these years that have

been preserved since the time

of Hammurabi, since men climbed

out of the Tigris and Euphrates

created statues, books, knowledge

beyond what the world had known,

the world famous Baghdad Library,

 

but we can say

we know who threw the bombs,

the missiles,

who destroyed the dams,

the rivers,

the hospitals

the schools

the museums

the universities

we know the ignorant who came to destroy

the mosques

the churches

the synagogues

the science labs

the CAT scan machines

the Xray machines

the research centers in medicine

the homes

the fathers

the mothers

the sisters

the brothers

the sons

the daughters

the unborn children

should we count them all,

should we just stand here

as if is done, and we should remain

silent

and walk away

 

they would have us remain silent

they would have us walk away

but for us, there shall be no silence

there shall be no walking away

 

we shall keep this history alive

we shall talk, we shall write

of the barbarians who came,

first the mongol hordes from  Asia,

after Ibn Khaldun tried to convince Ibn Timur

to save the library and the city, he burned it anyway,

then the mongol hordes for America, from

England, from France,

bombing, burning, stealing,

we shall remember them aloud

we shall remember them on paper

we shall condemn them

as we have condemned them from

time before they came to destroy Baghdad

before they came to destroy

Islam, before they came

to steal the oil,

to destroy mankind’s history,

we shall condemn them in every breath

in every word,

for these massacres of humans

of history

of what was

and could be, that has

been shattered, but we

know, it shall come again,

and the hordes that raped this land

just like Ibn Timur who burned the library,

the Western powers that came, will fade away

with their history in shame,

and these rivers, these laws of Allah and Hammurabi

will rise again, as will the saying of Jesus and Moses,

they shall rise again

as will this famous bookstore, this museum,

these universities, these mosques, these churches,

these synagogues, these children,

will reclaim their own land, will yank it away

from the Americans, the English, the French

and we shall join them

as they spit on those who have harmed

the beautiful land and its  people

 

no, we shall not be silent

we shall never walk away

our words

our hearts

their words

the hearts

their sorrows

their rebirth will remain

so long as men have memories

so long as men have books to read

and so long as men know that in the end

only good will prevail,

inshallah, inshallah

inshallah

 

 

c: sam hamod  7.2.11

 

 

 

 

 

After the Funeral of Assam Hamady

Sam Hamod

FOR MY MOTHER, DAVID AND LAURA

Cast:
Hajj Abbass Habhab: my grandfather
Sine Hussin: an old friend of my father
Hussein Hamod Subh: my father
me

6pm

middle of South Dakota
after a funeral in Sioux Falls
my father and grandfather
ministered the Muslim burial
of their old friend, Assam Hamady

me—driving the 1950 Lincoln
ninety miles an hour

“STOP! STOP!
stop this car!”

Why?
“STOP THIS CAR RIGHT NOW!”—Hajj Abbass
                                                     grabbing my arm from back seat
“Hysht Iyat? (What’re you yelling about?)”—my Father
“Shu bikkeee? (What’s happening?)”—Sine Hussin

I stop

“It’s time to pray”—the Hajj
                                yanks his Navajo blanket
                                opening the door

“It’s time to pray, sullee
the sun sets
time for sullee”

my Father and Sine Hussin follow
obedient
I’m sitting behind the wheel
watching, my motor still running

car lights scream by
more than I’ve ever seen in South Dakota

the Hajj spreads the blanket
blessing it as a prayer rug
they discuss which direction is East

after a few minutes it’s decided
it must be that way
they face what must surely be South

they face their East, then notice
I’m not with them

“Hamode! get over here, to pray!”

No, I’ll watch
and stand guard

“Guard from what—get over here!”

I get out of the car
but don’t go to the blanket

My father says to the others:
“He’s foolish, he doesn’t know how
to pray.”

they rub their hands
then their faces
rub their hands then
down their bodies
as if in ablution
their feet bare
together now
they begin singing

Three old men
chanting the Qur’an in the middle
of a South Dakota night

    “Allahu Ahkbar
    Allahu Ahkbar

    Ash haduu n lah illah illiliawhh
    Ash haduu n lah illah illilawhh

    Muhammed rasoul illawh”

in high strained voices they chant

    “Bismee lahee
    a rah’manee raheem”

more cars flash by

    “malik a youm a deen
    ehde nuseerota el mustakeem
    seyrota la theena”

I’m embarrassed to be with them

    “en umta ailiy him
    ghyrug mugthubee aliy him”

people stream by, an old woman strains a gawk at them

    “willathouu leen—
    Bismee lahee”

I’m standing guard now

    “a rah’maneel raheem
    khul hu wahu lahu uhud”

They’re chanting with more vigor now
against the cars—washing away
in a dry state
Hamady’s death
he floats from their mouths
wrapped in white

    “Allahu sumud
    lum yuulud wa’alum uulud”

striped across his chest, with green

    “Walum yankun a kuf one uhud
    will thouu leen”

his head in white, his gray mustache still

    “Ameen . . . “

I hear them still singing
as I travel half-way across
America
to another job
burying my dead
I always like trips, traveling at high speed
but they have surely passed me
as I am standing here now
trying so hard to join them
on that old prayer blanket—

as if the pain behind my eyes could be absolution

 

[Author’s note:] The Muslim prayer in this poem is analogous to The Lord’s Prayer

NPR READING, AFTER THE FUNERAL OF ASSAM HAMADY, SAM HAMOD

Sam Hamod– please see author’s complete biography on the home page, in additional works in this issue, and on the author’s page.

THE BEDOUIN DRESS

Sam Hamod

 

You run your
hand     just so
very slowly
over the dark sewn fabric of this
Bedouin dress – you feel
three thousand years rough up
against the color of your
skin      against the colors of your
memory          you tell me
“When I wear this dress
I always come out
red”      and I,
looking at the
rustle in you, say
“You must look good
all red”         and the
brightness of your
hair       is lit up by the shine of
your eyes        so predictable
a beauty    but your laughter
always surprising
and new
like this
dress     so many
years
in the making
with so many hidden     desert places
so many deep crevices
in the heart

 

 

 

SAM HAMOD/VISTA, CA. POETRY READING

 

Sam Hamod – please see author’s full bio on the home page, in additional works, and on the author’s page.

Ghazal of Two Lovers

Sam Hamod

 

She said,

if I could

I would embroider you

into my heart

 

He replied, yes,

and the thread

the thread would come from mine

 

She said,

if I could

I would weave you

into my breath

 

He said, yes

you are already

within my breath,

without you, I could not breathe

 

She said,

if I could

I would take you

into my blood

 

He replied, yes,

I am already

in your blood

and, as well, yours is mine

 

She said,

if that is the case

then your are mine

I am yours

 

Yes, he said,

it is true,

we are one

the same blood, breath and heart

ځ

 

See Author’s complete bio on the Home Page and in the Author’s page.

 

 

Leaves

Sam Hamod

 

Tonight, Sally and I are making stuffed
grape leaves, we get out a package, it’s
drying out, I’ve been saving it in the freezer, it’s
one of the last things my father ever picked in this
life – they’re over five years old
and up to now
we just kept finding packages of them in the
freezer, as if he were still picking them
somewhere       packing them
carefully to send to us
making sure they didn’t break into pieces.

                   *          *         *

“To my Dar Garnchildn
Davd and Lura
from Thr Jido”
twisted on tablet paper
between the lines
in this English lettering
hard for him even to print,
I keep this small torn record,
this piece of paper stays in the upstairs storage,
one of the few pieces of American
my father ever wrote.  We find his Arabic letters
all over the place, even in these files we find
letters to him in English, one I found from Charles Atlas
telling him, in 1932,
“Of course, Mr. Hamod, you too can build
your muscles like mine. . .”
 

                   *        *        *

Last week my mother told me, when I was
asking why I became a poet, “But don’t you remember,
your father made up poems, don’t you remember him
singing in the car as we drove – those were poems.”
Even now, at night, I sometimes
get out the Arabic grammar book
though it seems so late

 

Sam Hamod-Please see author’s full bio on the home page, in additional works, and on the author’s page.

 

Joe Williams at the Blue Note/Chicago, 1955; March 30, 1999

Sam Hamod

 

 “Everyday, everyday, everydaayyy 
 I got the blues, 
talking of bad luck and sorrow 
Well you know I had my share…” 

 – Joe Williams with the Count Basie Band

 

  

Tonight, they tell me you died
on a Vegas street,
Walked several miles from a hospital
Just checked yourself out and escaped toward home–
No, no–
I don’t want to believe it, rather, we’re
back at the Blue Note, Chicago, 1955
You’re standing on the bandstand, light green rolled collar, your
Big white teeth smile as the Count says,
” Now here’s a young man whose recently joined our band–
we think you’re going to like his singing”
then you smacked it out, like a 1×12 smacking water, “Everyday
“Everyday, everyday, everyday I got the bluesÖ”
and now, hearing that you’ve passed into that other side of the song,
everyday we’ll have the blues, talking of bad luck and sorrow, well you
know this will add to our share–but let me hear you, let me look at that big
smile again– swinging uptempo with the band ” The Comeback“–telling your girl, hold tight,
hold tight baby, and we could hear the pleading in your voice as you asked her
to hang on, to just wait a while longer because you’d be back–and then you were
sliding into “Rollem Pete” you made us all jump for joy, and you were up there
just like a rollin’ baby boy–and we were up on our feet dancing and clapping
Basie just kept smiling and the band kept blaring, trumpets
High- cresting, the saxes laying down that harmonic line and the trombones
filling the background, their slides darting in and out of the the light
then you’re joined by Lambert, Hendrix and Ross and you make the Blue Note shake
with “Going To Chicago” — and you tell it like it is, cause ain’t nothin’ in Chicago
that a monkey woman can do– and we were like that, hometown people, full
of good folks from home, and you knew it, and we knew it when you sang it,
and the Count said it, “Chicago is always like home to me” and somehow,
you up there with that big rolled collar have always stayed in my mind, in
my heart, now tonight, I refuse to believe
that you stole out of that hospital late at night
I donít’ want to remember you struggling down that road
Struggling for breath, each slight step a pain, a
Gasp, a pulling for air, just wanting to get back home
To those lights, to get back to that stage, to get back
Among your friends–why was it no one understood
A singer like you can’t be kept away from your people, you
Were given that voice to sing, to get out among people, to make
Them laugh, to feel wistful, to remember when they were in love, and what
Love is, that special feeling that embraces us with its happiness and sorrow,
That love in all its configurations is still that warmth, that warmth in your voice
In your broad smile, and in that way you held the mike and moved from jet black to silver hair
All in an instant–almost too fast for any of us to remember how it all changed–none of us
Noticed the time passing because there was always you, Ella, Sarah, Dinah, Count, Duke,
Hamp, Diz–now we have only Nancy Wilson, and I know she’ll cry tonight and a lot of days
And nights as she remembers your big wide voice pleading, “Please Send Me Someone To
Love,
” and she’ll ask the lord to send you to the right place, where you’ll join the others
Singing with the angels–and we’ll be earthbound, having you in vinyl, on cassette, on CD and in
our memories– so tonight, I know they speak their truth
That you have died, but my truth is that you are there at the Blue Note in Chicago
You are there at Blues Alley in Washington, DC, a little hoarse, and you are there with your arm
 

 

 

Sam Hamod has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry by Ray Carver and Ishmael Reed. He has published several books of poetry and his current book An Old Arab in My Mind: New and Selected Poems will be published this year. Hamod has been widely anthologized in print and online. He is the Editor in Chief of CWLJA

Bad Mutha’ Comin’ To Town

 
 

 

 

 

James Brown

 

 

 “Look at me,
I’m a bad mutha’,
yeah, I’m a bad mutha’, uhh! uhh! hey baby,
turnaround…”
James Brown

 
 

 

you be struttin’
james, up on broadway, ho’s
just shuck’n and jive’n, laugh’n out loud,
knew you were a big fisted daddy,
a tough mutha, that no muthafucka
would fuck with you—at Buddy’s Buzz Box
Buddy said, “Shit man, u tellin’ me
james brown is’n town—got to gitup to Broadway, got ta
see that man, an’his 20 footlongCadillac” he jes’ be
hangin’ back from that be-boppin, chest thumpin’, laughin’
mutha, just laughin’, just struttin’ blues, brownie, yah!
musta been, big time on Broadway, hell I don’no everboda’comin’out
cars stop’in people jes’ watchin’ even
little Willie, drunk asa skunk woke up sober, jes’
stragglin’ out to catch’m, willett smearin’ on
bright red lipstick, rosie ran upstairs, puttin’on
her tight- white sweater, and slick, he just sayin’
“tha’s my man, yah’ tha’s ma’man”

that was Gary, Indiana, September 14, 1960

 

Sam Hamod – see author’s full bio on home page, additional works, and author’s page.

 

Sam Hamod

 

At Fakhani, The Shoe: Lebanon, After the Bombing

Sam Hamod

 

It is a
Shoe     a
Single baby’s
Shoe
I pull it from the
Wreckage in Fakhani, a refugee
Shoe
Separated from its
Foot,   it is April
And it is darkening in the covering
Black Lebanese earth, the soft earth
Has cracked its white surface, marked with
Streaks of blood

And who wore this shoe, what
Little girl, or was it a
Boy, what did the
Father say when he
Smiled, did he laugh
Back, or was she a shy girl who had
Already learned to be a
Coquette – or was she
Chubby and withdrawn among
People, if he was a boy
Was he already strong, his
Dark hair flying as he
Wrestled his father’s
Arm – and what
Did her mother say to her
Father when they heard the jets
Screech across the sky, did they
Hear the whistle, or was it an
Offshore song, Israeli sirens at
Sea who sent in wave after wave of
Glistening silver sheets of
Sorrow.
And why was
This little shoe
Left by itself to wonder
In the dark, to find its way
To the surface by itself, and how
Did it feel

Leaving its foot behind­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­―
And what did the foot say
As the shoe slipped away
In the darkness
Toward the surface, did the
Child turn over as if in
A dream
did he dream
his
Mother and father were blowing
Away

And what am I
To say, a stranger now
To my parent’s land, in the
Bright Washington afternoon,
Here in Fakhani, holding onto this
Little shoe, feeling grief in
Arabic saying it in English, so
That it is flat against
The round care of this shoe, something
Is missing, how did this shoe come
To surface today to meet me, the
Child who can explain it
Is sleeping
Under the new coming
Grass, under the splintered boards and
Shining glass, and how
Long can we stand in the
Shadows hiding what our hearts know – like
A telegraph beacon repeating
Someone is missing
Someone is missing
Someone is missing.
 

Now
Sucking in the air
We drink Palestine, we taste
Lebanon, we hear Syria, we remember
Jordan, all the same
Land, the home of the same shoes,
Split now,   like this foot
From its shoe,     the blood smell
Coming from the piles of
Debris
In the hot Lebanese sun, and
So we are at home, tearing away
The language and names
Of countries, of village,
Tearing away the memory of these
Past two weeks, believing this shoe
Never had a foot, something lost
From a shoe store by mistake, something made
Alone and single in the tannery of
Rafik Dibbs in Machgara in southern
Lebanon, some sort of dream of what it was like
In Alay and Zah׳ le, when people
Would stay up until early morning
Doing the dab׳kee, eating olives and
Kib׳bee by the flowing creek

A place where there were
No airplanes, a place where
There were no rockets, no
Ships lobbing in shells from
The blue and glistening Mediterranean, but
This shoe, we know
Is missing its foot –
Shall we search in Tel Aviv, in Washington, in
Moscow – shall we search, or
Shall we make another
Speech, shall we make another
Poem, shall we empty the canister
Of language and simply
Cry.
 

The shoe
Yes,
I give you this
Shoe,
It is
Not mine,
It is
ours   

 

 

Dr. Sam Hamod

 

 

 

ALLEN GINSBERG COMES TO IOWA CITY TO READ AND TO ROAST A PIG

Sam Hamod

 

 

To most, Allen Ginsberg was known as this wild Jewish, Buddhist, homosexual poet, who wrote HOWL and KADDISH, so most assumed he wouldn’t eat pork and most likely was, as were many Buddhists in the 60s, and today, a vegetarian.

But when he came to Iowa City, to read and to talk with old friends at The Writers Workshop like Ted Berrigan, an old friend from NYC, and Anselm Hollo, and a few others from around America and the world, he decided, since he was in Iowa, that they should have a pig roast.  Everyone talked about it for about a week, then they all laid out the plans.

They would have the roast at Ken McCullough’s house out in the country, where they would have enough room for everyone in the workshop to come.  Allen also told them how he wanted to roast the pig.  He wanted them to dig a big hole in the ground, so they could put wood down, then bake the pig all day, so that it would get smoked and be done by nightfall.

None of us knew much about how to cook a pig, and in my case, as  a Muslim, I didn’t eat pork, so it was no big deal to me, but I was curious how you cooked meat in the ground in a hole.  I’d heard of it, but knew nothing about it.  But Ginsberg and ken seemed to know what they were doing, and they had others help them prepare the ground, the wood and the fire in the ground.

After they got the fire going, they put the small pig in the ground, covered it with some kinds of leaves, Ginsberg said it was an old Hawaiian way of doing it, and then covered the hole and everyone went back to Iowa City for his reading, with plans to return that night for the big party and feasting on the pig.

The reading was very good, but some of the homosexual matters in the poems made some of the more genteel professors a bit uncomfortable. But in the end,  but all agreed, even those who were uncomfortable, that his poetry, and his reading of it were something wonderful, and that no doubt, he was one of the important poets of our time. It was a reading that was far different from many who had come, some of whom were a bit stuffy; Ginsberg’s voice rose and fell, he gestured wildly as he read, he stared down at the large audience in the auditorium like a magician, almost as if he was saying, “See,that’s how you do a poem.”

When the reading was over, though many wanted him to sign  their books and get his autograph, he was in a hurry to get back to Ken McCullough’s farm house to check on his pig.  So we were off.  He grabbed me and Hollo and said, “Let’s go!  Do you know the way to McCullough’s?” After I confirmed it, we took off down the country road to McCullough’s and the fabled pig.

When we got there, a lot of people had stayed around all day, smoking pot, shooting up, and others drinking cheap wine and singing, or maybe they were trying to sing, it was hard to tell because there was so  much noise and so much was   going on. 

Everyone crowded around Ginsberg, and started asking him how the reading went, and when would the pig be done.  Allen told them the reading was great, that he was very happy to be in Iowa City with all the poets, and to be in the country and to finally have a chance to cook a pig in the ground. 

After he talked and talked with everyone and had a few drinks of the jug wine that was being passed around, he raised his arms, and almost as if was in a trance, he began a Buddhist chant.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but it had words, not just the famed, “OMMmm…”

After a few minutes of the chant, he jumped up and shouted, “Now it’s time, now it’s time to take our friend the pig from the  hole.” He called Ken, who knew how to take the pig out of the ground, but Ken said, “No, the pig is not done yet.”  Ginsberg insisted that he knew it was  done.  Ken kept saying, “NO, it hasn’t had enough time to cook all the way through yet.”  But Allen would have none of it, he was sure it was done and he wanted it out of the ground 

Ken said, “NO, once more and walked away,” refusing to take it from the ground. 

By this time, the hundreds of drinkers were getting hungrier and hungrier because they’d been drinking and  most had been smoking pot all day, and hadn’t eaten since late morning when Ken had put the pig in the ground.  They all began to say how hungry they were, and they wanted to eat, and that no pig should take that long to cook.

They kept this up until Ginsberg asked if anyone else knew how to get the pig out of the ground.  At that point,  some of the drunker ones said they knew how to do it, that they’d done it before. Having worked with drunks in my bar business days, I  was sure they didn’t know shit from shinola about getting the pig out of the deep hole it was cooking in. But Ginsberg was also hungry and impatient to get the show on the road. So, he enlisted these drunks to help him pull the pig out of the ground.

It was clear from the first few minutes, when one almost fell into the hole, that none of them knew what the hell they were doing, and furthermore, they were so drunk, even if they knew, they wouldn’t have been able to lift the pig out of the ground.

After the drunken crew flailed around for I have no idea how long, Allen himself gave up and asked if anyone else knew how to  get the pig out of the fire hole.  Some said they’d like to help, but had no idea how to do it without getting burned.

Finally, Ginsberg prevailed on McCullough to pull the pig out of the ground, even though Ken kept saying it wasn’t done.  Ginsberg said, “I don’t give a damn, let’s just get it out so we can eat,” and some other choice words I can’t remember at this time.

Ken called some of his buddies who were relatively sober, and so was I, so we all followed Ken’s directions of how to pull on the blanket or whatever the pig was wrapped in, to pull the pig from the ground.  I felt sorry for the poor little pig; as we pulled it up, I realized how young it must have been.  But with all the wood on top, the blanket, and whatever else, we tugged and pulled until finally the pig reached the surface and everyone began shouting. but for the hell of it, I can’t remember any words, just jumbled shouts all around by a bunch of hungry drunks, led by their pied piper, Allen Ginsberg, who was as anxious as they were to get to the pig.

After Ken unwrapped the pig, with Allen’s help, the butcher knife was brought out and Allen began cutting up the pig, as if he knew just what he was doing. But, having seen butchers and my father butcher cows, lambs and chickens, I knew he didn’t know what he was doing.  He cut the meat awkwardly, in chunks, and as he cut into the pig, it was clear it was not done, because some of the meat was pink and other slices were red, but it made no difference to the crowd, they were hungry and they wanted to eat no matter what condition the meat was in. So, the meat was cut, handed out as fast as it was cut, and people were wolfing it down as fast as they could chew.  It was a madhouse, a medieval feast, people all spread out on the lawn, their plates full, their wine glasses and jugs full, wine all over their clothes, people singing, people shouting for more, people smoking joints, and Ginsberg praising the pig and how wonderful it tasted, while Ken and I just shook our heads, he still sober along with me, and neither of us with a taste for the pig, he because it wasn’t done, and me because I didn’t eat pork, as a Muslim.

The eating and drinking went on, and on, and one, especially the drinking and the smoking.  Finally, I told Hollo and Allen I had to go, and felt they could get another ride back to town if they wanted to stay. Of course, they stayed, in fact, they slept at Ken’s farmhouse that night, along with a lot of others who had brought their blankets.

Ginsberg stayed another day or two, I can’t remember for sure, but when I saw him years later in Del Mar at a reading he did at a bookstore, that sadly is now closed, we laughed about the famous pig roast and how crazy we’d been in those days because after he left Iowa City, Ginsberg went on to try to  levitate the Pentagon, as his protest against the disastrous Viet Nam War. 

Though he didn’t know how to properly roast a pig, Ginsberg was right about the Viet Nam War, and also about dope being sent home to the states in body bags with the dead, and about how our soldiers were getting hooked on dope because our military made sure they had it in Viet Nam so they could stand the heat and dangers of battle in those God forsaken jungles and rivers, where snipers picked off our people at will.

 

 

Sam Hamod has his PhD. from The Writers’ Workshop of the University of Iowa and has taught in the Workshop; he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, has published 10 books of poems, and has appeared in dozens of anthologies in the U.S. and abroad.  He has also taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Princeton, Michigan, Wisconsin, Howard and overseas as well. He has had praise from Neruda, Borges and such American poets as Ishmael Reed, James Wright, Dick Hugo, Jack Marshall, Amiri Baraka and E. Ethelbert Miller among others. He is the Editor In Chief of Contemporary World Literature: Journal for the Arts (www.contemporaryworldliterature) and Contemporary World Poetry: Journal for International Voices.

At the Israeli Checkpoint, Palestine (for Mahmoud Darwish, In Memory of the Greatest of Arab Poets)

Sam Hamod

    (for Mahmoud Darwish, in memory of the greatest of Arab poets)

At the checkpoint, the

Israeli private asked me my name, I told

her, my name is

Zaitoun, she asked, what does that mean,

I told her 4,000 year old trees, she laughed,

asked for my real name, I told her, “Dumm,” what?

i said, it means blood, she said, that’s no name, I told her

blood of my grandfather, my father, my uncle

and even mine if necessary, she bridled, called the corporal,

he came running up, said, what kind of threat is that,

I said, it’s no threat, it’s just a fact,

he called the sergeant, he came up and hit me before he spoke,

my mouth bled, I told him, this is the blood I mean, that same

blood, you are afraid of, it’s over 4000 years old, see how dark it is

he called the lieutenant, who asked why my mouth was bleeding,

the sergeant said I had threatened him, the lieutenant asked me

if that was the truth, I told him, I had only stated facts, that

they would be true, after they conferred, he called the

colonel, the colonel came over and asked why I’d been provocative,

I said, all I was doing was stating facts; he asked what I did,

I told him, I was a farmer, he asked what kind, I told him

a farmer with words, what some call a poet—

“yes, now I know your name, Mahmoud Darwish,

you’re well known in Israel,”

he asked me if I knew the work of Amichai, I told him yes,

that I’d met him, that he knew what I meant, that Amichai was

sorry for what he’d felt he “had to do”—the colonel shrugged

dismissed the others and told me, “pass on,

I understand, but they don’t, they are not Jews, I am a Jew,

not a Zionist”

I pulled the qhubz arabi from my pocket, pulled some zaitoun

from another, some jibbin from my bag and gave it to him–

we laughed, he split the bread in half—

we ate together, we laughed at how sad and foolish all this was

* qhubz arabi: bread of the arabs

jibin: arab cheese

zaitoun: olives

 

please see author’s complete biography on the “Home Page,” and in “Author’s Page.”

The Muslim Scholar Searching for the Thousand and One Nights (Alf Laila, Wa Laila)

Sam Hamod

(for my old friend and teacher, Professor Muh’sin Mahdi of the Univ. of Chicago and Harvard, all the way from Iraq and the Alf Laila, Wa Laila)

 

 
Muh’sin found a thousand versions
of a thousand and one nights,
alf laila, wa laila,
in so many dialects that after a while
he decided
no one
not one
person
could have
even thought of
writing those thousands
of pages, of those thousands of
versions of the
thousand and one nights, so that
it had to be the hand
of a wizard, someone from outside
this life, someone who knew the
genii, someone who knew
the secrets of Ali Baba, of
Sinbad, and all the seas, pirates
and thieves of Arabia and
the Mediterranean, that was
a bearded genius, who smoked
the nargela by night, wandering
in and out of
dreams, who knew of carpets
flying, of horses that magically lifted into
air, with lights and jewels
all around, with beautiful virgins
who could not be
violated, who understood the wiles
of women, who understood they always
play the upper
trinket, that jangles in the
minds of men, who let slip the
sounds that
tempt men, circes
whose various
cries are music
to panting men’s ears,
he had to have found
the scars of generations of
men who have yearned to
capture this single
woman, the one
who has all the
secrets, but who
only lets them
secretly, almost
silently slip out of a
dream, like each day
is a dream, in the mind
of the wizard, the maker
of the sport and
pastime, whose hand guided
even her bangles as she
danced her nine hundred and
ninety-ninth night, fully knowing
the caliph had already been
eclipsed
by the moon
whose eyes
almond white against
her tanned skin
were a symphony
he could no longer
control, but even as he
breathed to ask
she moved slightly
away, out of his
reach, and even at his
command, did not
come–
in that moment
he was aware
of her hips of water, her
skin light olive
her eyes
flames
that burned
brighter into him
setting him afire

 
see author’s complete bio on the “Home Page” and “Author’s Page”

 

Rumi

Sam Hamod

 

It was never the spinning

Never the turning

Nor was it losing one’s self,

It was from inside

From that part of the heart

Attached to Allah’s heaven

From within

It was always from within

Tied to Allah from without,

That rope

We never let loose of,

That deeply felt, invisible

Binding that helps us ascend,

Frees us, spiraling upward     

I’d Rather Not Talk About It (For Palestine…)

Sam Hamod

 

I  really didn’t want

to talk about Ali losing his leg

to an Israeli shell last week, or

samira,scarred still in the hospital

her body napalmed

from a fast moving jet, but

as I said,

i’d rather not talk about it,

but it seems

there is nothing else

we can talk about except, maybe

the zaitoun* trees, the tanks

and bulldozers made short work of them,

but their stumps remain, gravemarkers

some say, but they say,

they’d rather not talk about it

between muffled sobs their women

knot their hands, shake their heads, their

scarves wet from tears, but even they say,

they’d rather not talk about it,

and as for me, I’d feel the same, but

as a poet, I have to give them voice, even though

they say,

they’d rather not talk about it,

I want to, and I want u to know

more about Mahmoud who lost an eye to shrapnel,

to Miriam who lost her 7 year old son

because an Israeli sniper decided he was a threat

as he picked olives in his own orchard, and

I want to talk about Father George, who was on his way

to church on Sunday, but walked too close

to the Israeli wall, and lost his brains

as they scattered along the wall, red and white

as another sniper made sure no one came near

this land they stole from Palestine, and,

Hussein who lost his foot from a cluster bomblet

that had been left behind in Gaza, he was simply

on his way to the mosque to pray on Friday, the

Imam said it was “Allah’s will,,” but I doubt it,

when asked why it was Allah’s will, he said,

I’d rather not talk about it, but we go on,

and, there is another story, behind another bed

in the emergency room, and another stretcher

bleached white with red stains all over,

and,  and,

and, and, and, but I could go on,

but as I said, I’d rather not talk about it,

as they all said, there is nothing to talk about,

nothing,  nothing,  no, 

nothing at all

 

*zaitoun:  olives in Arabic

 

 

PHOTO BY KRISTEN SCOTT

 

Sam Hamod – please see author’s full bio in additional works SPRING ISSUE, Home Page, and Author’s Page.

Keeping the Cancer Letter to Myself

Sam Hamod

           (for my late mother, Zinab)

 

It’s as if
I can hold time back
 as if
I can keep that letter in my briefcase as if I can
keep my mother
still alive
upstairs in the white room, as if
I can still hear
her blood soaked
cough           want to tell her
it is something that will pass, lie to
her, tell her the letter is good,
the treatments will
work, tell her that we’ll make
that trip to Romania
get some of those “miracle drugs” we keep
reading about,
that we’ll sit on the front porch again
in the spring marvel        at the clarity of air,
talk about when she was a little girl in Iowa
when the circus would come to field across
the road, when she raised her brothers
and sisters after her mother died
when she was nine – baking bread each morning
and each year the exciting circus would return –
that we’ll get her passport ready
it will be a long flight we can – then
there’s that deep wrenching cough
again
And I’ll lie
again, tell her that she’s worried for nothing
that the pain in her stomach is only
gas, I’ll choke up again
unable to talk
turn away     my swelling throat
tight, unable to – then we’ll
strain out talk of dandelions and grapeleaves
we’d pick when I was a boy, by the river in Iowa,
by the roadsides in Indiana, then she
falls asleep, moves fitfully
Go back to my briefcase      not open it
wish the letter away –
now that she’s passed, that
briefcase sits, full of papers, unopened, but my eyes blur in this
poem
because in this life
there are some things we never fully close

 

   

photo by Kristen Scott

 

please see author’s complete bio on the home page, additional works, and on the author’s page.

 

 

 

 

Waves At Isla Negra

Sam Hamod

            (por Pablo Neruda)

 

always there are the waves
at Isla Negra,
unless you understand the
motion of rocks
as they stir
against the pounding surf,
you will never understand
the motion of
loving a place
or a woman,
each moves
in her own way, undulating
like willows
high up
on cliffs as they extend
their branches downward,
enticing you
as do the waves
at Isla Negra,
so many colours,
so many rhythms,
so many songs
heard
and unheard
known only in the heart

 

 

Sam Hamod has his PhD. from The Writers’ Workshop of the University of Iowa and has taught in the Workshop; he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, has published 10 books of poems, and has appeared in dozens of anthologies in the U.S. and abroad.  He has also taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Princeton, Michigan, Wisconsin, Howard and overseas as well. His most recent books were, JUST LOVE POEMS FOR YOU (2006), Ishmael Reed Pub. Co/Contemporary Poetry Press and THE ARAB POEMS, THE MUSLIM POEMS (2000), Contemporary Poetry Press/Cedar Creek; he has two more books of poems under contract and his memoirs as well. He has won many awards over the years, and in addition has read with such poets as Kinnell, Ginsberg, Merwin, Wright, Knight, Baraka and others, and has had praise from Neruda, Borges and such American poets as Ishmael Reed, James Wright, Dick Hugo, Jack Marshall, Amiri Baraka and E. Ethelbert Miller among others.

 

 

No Time Like the Present

Samuel Hazo

 

 
            You who believe in the false
               assurances of schedules, the presumptions
               of plans, or the pr0mised future
               of appointments. this poem is
               for you.
                       Today I have nowhere
               to go and nothing to do
               but watch the Mediterranean Sea
               from a seaside table in Menton.
            Nobody knows me here.
            The couples dancing tangos
               in the public square regard me
               as the foreigner I am.
                                 I order
               lunch in unimpressive French
               and sign language.
                          The world
               that pressured me at home
               with phone calls, obligations, bills
               and headlines carries on,
               but I’m not playing.
                            Instead
               I focus on the green and red
               confusion of a Nicoise salad
               while I hurt for an America
               I barely recognize.   
                            In the name
               of Christ we’re Arabizing Arabs
               as we once Vietnamized the South
               Vietnamese before our vanity
               consumed us.
                          We’ve sponsored free
               elections but reversed results.
            To launch the neo-century
               we crushed a country and destroyed
               a culture.
                           Though someone warned
               that occupiers lose at last,
               the warning was ignored.
                                 When scholars
               wrote that Athens at its peak
               sailed fleets to ultimate catastrophe
               in Sicily and bled for decades
               afterward into inconsequence,
               they reaped the glory of derision.
             Why bother talking history
                            with those whose only purpose
                       is deceit?
                          Why reason with unreason?
            When shouters violate what’s sacred
               with impunity, the only answer
               is dissent.
                    Hiding behind
               lapel-pin flags, they’ve fouled
               what I thought would be a holiday
               abroad, not merely a reprieve
               before the next resistance.
            I’ve met them all a thousand
               times whenever fear and cowardice
               demanded loyalty to causes
               that were never mine.
                                 Since power
               is their word for peace, they swagger
               like competitors who can’t not win.
            And when they lose, as they
               will always lose, they’ll claim
               they could have won with more
               support, and then they’ll whine.

 

 

Samuel Hazo is the author of poetry, fiction, essays, various works of translation and four plays. Governor Robert Casey named him Pennsylvania’s first State Poet 1993. He served until 2003.

From his first book, through the National Book Award finalist Once for the Last Bandit, to his newest poems, he explores themes of mortality and love, passion and art, courage and grace in a style that is unmistakably his own. He writes with equal feeling and clarity about political and artistic figures and the complex synchronicity between life and art. He is extremely interested in the wonderment and discovery that emerge in the act of writing, in the movement toward wisdom that results from the expression of feeling.

As the founder and Director/President of the International Poetry Forum, Dr. Hazo has brought more than 800 poets and performers to Pittsburgh in the past forty years. These have included Nobel Awardees (Heaney, Walcott, Paz, Milosz), Pulitzer Prize winners (Merwin, Kumin, Wilbur, Kinnell, Kooser and others), Academy Award recipients (Gregory Peck, Princess Grace of Monaco, Eva Marie Saint, Anthony Hopkins, John Houseman, Jose Ferrer) as well as public figures who understand the relationship of poetry to public speech (Senator Eugene McCarthy and Queen Noor of Jordan), playwrights and composers (Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Gian Carlo Menotti) and new poets of significance and promise.

Dr. Hazo is McAnulty Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Duquesne University. He has received eleven honorary degrees, is an honorary Phi Beta Kappa member, and has been awarded the Hazlett Award for Excellence in Literature from the Governor of Pennsylvania, the Forbes Medal, the Elizabeth Kray Award for Outstanding Service to Poetry from New York University, and the Griffin Award from the University of Notre Dame. His recent book, Just Once, received the Maurice English Poetry Prize.

We are honored to have Dr. Samuel Hazo’s work in Contemporary World Poetry: Journal for International Voices.

 

 

The New Life

Jack Marshall

 

First thing after I shower,
I brew a fresh pot of coffee, pour a cup
and take it out to the garden to sit
under the yellow-laden lemon tree
where yesterday at twilight I saw a hummingbird,
wings a blur, flit from globe to globe.
Since having moved into this house
far inland from the ocean we lived by
for over a decade, ocean whose smell brought us
home, whose salt smell was home,
I’ve seen bluejays, white doves, and hummers,
warblers and whistlers you won’t hear by the sea
which can be calamitous, as that drowned crew
of young Russian submariners only yesterday doomed
by their leaders callous indifference…
Old men sacrificing other peoples’ sons,
as if the sea didn’t have enough old bones
to gnaw on; it needed new young.
For us, though, lucky enough to be on land,
there’s nothing like a garden in bloom
and the sight of new birds to loosen
the ocean’s hold on us and start the new life.

 

 

Jack Marshall is one of America’s finest poets; we are honored to have him on our site. He has published 12 books of poetry (the most recent, The Steel Veil, 2008), and a memoir, From Baghdad to Brooklyn 2005; a book-length poem, TRACE (for which he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship), will appear in 2012. 

End-Speech

Jack Marshall

 

In a darkness with nothing to see,
in a darkness with little to hear
but the dove softly cooing on the wires above
and running water somewhere near
lapping the soft summer air,
train-whistles trail their signature-sounds
in the distance, diffusing to the timbre of smoke
and the doves’ soft cooing on the wires above…

And I have lately been thinking of the aged
eagle, the darkling thrush, the fire-fangled bird, and hurt hawk, all
grown weary of the trash that passes, the trash
that exasperates and likely provoking the poems they wished
they’d never have to write. How, at the end, stripped
of promise, as the fruit falls asunder,
annihilation becomes plain-
spokenly bare
cadence, canceling all show and ornament, bare-
boned end-speech, devoid of any intentions on us,
only voiced conviction, baring what it knows.
Nothing complicated: just life and death.

 

 

Jack Marshall is one of America’s finest poets; we are honored to have him on our site. He has published 12 books of poetry (the most recent, The Steel Veil, 2008), and a memoir, From Baghdad to Brooklyn 2005; a book-length poem, TRACE (for which he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship), will appear in 2012. 

Sudanese Woman

Jack Marshall

 

Coarse, prematurely creased as animal hide,
skin blackened sun-baked flour, unrisen,
shrunken tight around her skeletal
bone base underneath; pooled eyes
filled with having seen dawn and sunset’s
blood-red on the dunes; with drinking
the water of the sand scavenged en route;
chalky palms lifting mush meal to her
fly-ridden mouth. Stripped of
children, husband, kin, and home’s
mud walls is party to slow dying, surely
as from the stones nearby, one day
a smiling statue will grow out of lies.
As if more arsenals needed emptying;
as if more generals needed to perfect
maneuvers, and not enough wedding parties
are thinned out. As if breath’s
witness must be kept vagabond, death-bound,
and, struck like flint, refused a spark.
For her, in wrapped in widowhood’s cloak,
in heat’s long tearing veil, all colors
are blended, bleached into corpse-clotted
waterholes. In whipping, flimsy fabric,
she stares out, one among countless
grains squatting on the bare gravel ground
of their lives. The freshness that time
had once laid in store, lays no more,
and a promise to satisfy, that could not then,
is farther away than the farthest
cry now.
  
 
 
 

 

 
 

please see authors bio in his additional works for CWPJ and on the Author’s page.

 

 

Mystery

Naomi Shihab Nye

 

The men emerge from the mine
in a cartridge with wheels
and everyone cheers.

In the hills
of Afghanistan,
deserts of Gaza,
mountains of Pakistan,
villages of Libya,
men crouching behind boulders
and broken houses
wish they knew their secret.

 

 

Naomi Shihab Nye  lives in San Antonio, has written or edited 30 books, and is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

 

Fertile Soul

Mahnaz Badihian

 

I labor a new woman in me every day
I am not in my twenties
not even in my forties
But the art of multiplication is still in me
I am a growing new garden
new buds.
I feel life crawling on my shoulders
with the gods of fertility,
that will never let me stop being a woman

 

 

Mahnaz Badihian is a poet and translator whose work has been published into several languages worldwide, including Persian, Turkish, and Malayalam. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines including Exiled ink! and in Marin Poetry Center Anthology amongst others. She attended the Iowa Writer’s workshop with a focus on international poetry while practicing as a dentist in Iowa City.  Her publications include two volumes of poetry in Persian and a best-selling translation of Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions into Persian.  Her most recent publication is a critically acclaimed book of original English language poetry, From Zayandeh Rud to the Mississippi. She has an awarding winning selection of poetry (XIV Premio Letterario Internazionale Trofeo Penna d’Autore, Tornio) translated into Italian by Cristina Contili and Pirooz Ebrahimi. 

Every Morning

Mahnaz Badihian

 

Every morning I visit every tree in this garden
even before I wash my face or comb my hair.
All the trees know a few facts.
They know the same woman will water them day after day,
the woman who picks one apple from the red apple tree
She is the woman, who asks if the rain lets them sleep at night,
the woman who goes to every tree
even before the sun can shine on them.
Not all the trees are happy in this garden
Some are moody on certain days, some get
annoyed with the cold or the heat
Some are so difficult they hate being touched
Some so brave they can grow tall even in the absence of rain
By now I know all their names
I know what makes each one smile

The man who sleeps in my bed is morose every day
but I lack the art of knowing what makes him sad.
He is like those trees, never talks
Once I asked him if it was the rain, or the cold
or the yellow color of the sheets?
Is it the color of my eyes, the size of my thighs?
Or even the way I lay down?
It is Sunday morning and I go to the garden to watch the trees

 

 

Mahnaz Badihian is a poet and translator whose work has been published into several languages worldwide, including Persian, Turkish, and Malayalam. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines including Exiled ink! and in Marin Poetry Center Anthology amongst others. She attended the Iowa Writer’s workshop with a focus on international poetry while practicing as a dentist in Iowa City.  Her publications include two volumes of poetry in Persian and a best-selling translation of Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions into Persian.  Her most recent publication is a critically acclaimed book of original English language poetry, From Zayandeh Rud to the Mississippi. She has an awarding winning selection of poetry (XIV Premio Letterario Internazionale Trofeo Penna d’Autore, Tornio) translated into Italian by Cristina Contili and Pirooz Ebrahimi. 

 

 

 

Rhythm

Kim Hye-sun
Translation by Don Mee Choi

 

There goes a woman carrying a teardrop.
Erasing, erasing the world
there goes one woman carrying a teardrop.
Erasing her own face
there goes one woman carrying a teardrop.

There goes a crippled woman.
She takes out a broken leg
from her broken leg.
There goes a woman, walking.

Tears, there’s a woman that you drag along.
The hot rhythm pulls up a woman.
There’s the faint world erased
by the passing rhythm.

Translated by Don Mee Choi

Kim Hye-sun’s (1955- ) poetry first appeared in the early 1980’s, during
a period of intensified political struggle. South Korea fell under a
dictatorship of General Chon after the assassination of President Pak in
1979, who also came into power by leading a military coup in 1961. As
many as 2000 civilians and students are known to have been killed during
the civilian uprising in 1980. During the 80’s, many prominent writers
were arrested, including Ko Un and Kim Chi-ha, but at the same time,
women’s poetry began to resurface. Distinctive voices of women poets
such as Kim Hye-sun emerged despite the fact that Korean poetry has
traditionally been a closed space accessible to men only. Korean women
began writing publically since the early 1920’s, but only the works by
women that are contemplative and beautiful gained approval and
recognition by the mainstream Korean literary establishment. Kim’s
poetry challenges the criteria of gentleness still expected of women
poets. Her work explores the identity of women in the context of
oppressive patriarchal culture, nation. Kim’s poetry occupies a
marginal, yet critical space in Korean poetry.

She writes criticism and teaches creative writing at Seoul Arts
University, S. Korea. March of2000, she received the Korean
Contemporary Poetry Award. She received the prestigious Sowol Poetry Award, year 2001.

Don Mee Choi was born in S. Korea and came to the U.S. as a student in
1981. She studied art at the California Institute of the Arts. Her
poems have appeared in The Asian Pacific American Journal, Hawaii
Pacific Review, disorient journalzine, and Gargoyle. She lives in
Seattle and translates poetry of several contemporary Korean women
poets. Her translations will appear this year in the fall issues of
Arts & Letters: Journal of Contemporary Culture and Luna.

Cucumbers

Ko Un
Translation by Don Mee Choi

 

Retail price of 30 cucumbers is only one thousand won, it’s dumbfounding
Our cucumbers taken to Karak Street, Orak Street in Seoul go for
400 won for a bundle of 50. It doen’t even make the transport cost
Even big round melons are 500 won for 10
a flat of garlic, 100 bulbs, is less than 2000 won
This is our crop, this is our crop

Smash this dog-craziness
let’s go to Seoul
let’s go to Seoul to live or die
My daughter can become a whore or factory girl
my wife can go as a maid
I’ll rise to the drum’s fury, climb to Mount South
scream once and kill myself!

Let’s go to Seoul
Let’s go to Seoul

Let’s go to Seoul to wreck life

Translated by Don Mee Choi

 

Ko Un was born in Gunsa, North Jeolla Province, Korea. Un became active in the democracy movement and led efforts for democracy in South Korea, which resulted in four imprisonments. After his prison release, he continued his writing, and since 2007, he remains a visiting scholar at Seoul National University where he teaches poetics and literature. His works include The Sound of My Waves, Beyond Self, Little Pilgrim, Ten Thousand Lives, The Three Way Tavern, Flowers of a Moment, and Songs for Tomorrow: A Collection of Poems 1961-2001, among others. Ko Un has won several literary awards including; Korean Literature Prize (1974, 1987), Manhae Literary Prize (1989), Joongang Literary Prize (1991), Daesan Literary Prize (1994),  Cikada Prize, and Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Recognition Award (2008), among others.

 Don Mee Choi for complete bio please see other translated works in CWPJ and on Author’s Page.

 

Frog

Ko Un
Translation by Don Mee Choi

 

Crying all night long
crying kaegol kaegol
That potent cry
makes a rice paddy

Make a rice paddy to give to the poor
Sang-soe, good to see you again
Here, a patch of paddy for Kum-sun too

Look at the morning fields
such a colorful bride
All the frogs are asleep
from crying all night

kaegol kaegol

Translated by Don Mee Choi

 

 

Don Mee Choi was born in S. Korea and came to the U.S. as a student in
1981. She studied art at the California Institute of the Arts. Her
poems have appeared in The Asian Pacific American Journal, Hawaii
Pacific Review, disorient journalzine, and Gargoyle. She lives in
Seattle and translates poetry of several contemporary Korean women
poets.

 

 

see Ko Un’s bio in additional works and in Author’s page.

The Grand Hotel

Janet McAdams

from the Island of Lost Luggage

 

In those days everything was forbidden.
We traveled anyway, into the heart
of the abandoned countryside to a town
in the mountains, near the lake they now call
Lago Verde. Behind the altar of the dark cathedral,
Simon found the delicate bones of an animal,
crawled in, we imagined, out of the biting
winter wind. At the sound of our voices,
the skeleton collapsed into itself, the way
a house of cards falls when the table is jostled.
Bits of fur rose like fine mist from the animal
we could not identify, and drifted, casual
as the spurs of wild daffodils we blew away
as children, those summers near Anuncio. Sister,
do you remember?
In this first Autumn,
I am writing you in a whirl of leaves. Dark violet
and yellow, they fill me with emptiness.
And I am listening for swallows, who call
to each other just now at twilight.
 
That room with its impossibly high ceilings!
We talked then of how people once lived
and held each other in the musty bed, beneath two
names carved on the mahogany headboard.
I thought: I will never forget these names
and have. How little, Anna, we remember of what
we once knew. We are blessed to forget

unlike Luria’s poor patient “S,” the man
who remembered everything, and in no particular order.
He swam each day through a thick fog of trivia
and history: the yellow toothbrush his aunt
kept at the summerhouse, formulae for colloidal
suspensions, the weight in grams of the Faberge egg
lost when they took the Imperial Family to Tsarkoe Seloe.

What I remember is this: Simon brought almonds
and a tin of cocoa from his pack that cool evening.
We had the hard flat bread of travelers and plums
found in the tainted countryside. We ate them anyway.
They say that in March on that mountain, the butterflies
were so thick you could not walk without crushing them.
I keep this image as if it were memory.

 

 

In the Grand Hotel, we wandered through hallways,
past photographs askew on their wire hangers,
intricate rosettes carved on the overdoors, floors
of polished, hard green stone. We tried to imagine
the people who built this, then poisoned their fishes.
In that poisoned land, we slept and I tell you
I did no dreaming. Anna, will we remember our past
always? Will we ever walk the dream road
of our childhood, lined with wild rose, the scent
of cape jasmine, to waves iridescent with fishes,
fearful only of the wild cries of ravens?

 

 

 
   
 

 

 

Janet McAdams’s  Janet McAdams’ collection The Island of Lost Luggage won the  American Book Award in 2001. Her poems have appeard in TriQuarterly, Columbia, the Women’s Review of Books, the Crab Orchard Review, the North American Review, and other journals. She teaches at Kenyon College.

  

The Grand Hotel overlooked Lago Verde.
Its white and blue sign appeared unchanged,
as if doors might fly open and travelers emerge,
to walk the path around the lake. The bright sun
burned our skin, but it was cold in the stone
hotel. We broke two chairs and built a fire,
warming the room a little.

 

Milner Place Shakes His Head

Mark A. Murphy

 

Undiminished, grimacing from the window
of his old cave, Milner Place will smoke another cigarette,
pluck at his grey beard. pull the hairs from his nostrils
            whilst the street corner orators
denounce the pulchritude of whores in back alleys
 and another failed revolution,
where the morally defunct prey on the weak
            and the ancient wrangle unfolds
between musicians and poets. There are no hours to steal
of particular significance from the intelligentsia
who claim to have seen tomorrows abundance, no gods
            or the creatures of God
 waxing lyrical about the paradise of angels.
Our poet scratches his beard, diviner of the elements, 
curer of old age, carrying the weight of time,
            ripping at the roots of life,
unveiling the world as it shrivels to an old man’s breast –
whilst the shackling of a young boy and girl stops
under the dripping branches of an olive tree on the slopes
            of Mount Etna as two hearts become one.

 

Mark A. Murphy’s poems have appeared in Poetry New Zealand, Poetry Scotland, Quarterly Literary Review (Singapore), The Warwick Review (UK), Struggle (UK), Istanbul Literature Review (Turkey), Paris Atlantic Journal (France), Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), Litspeak (Germany), Contemporary Literary Horizons (Romania), Munyori (India), Taj Mahal Review (India), The Tampa Review (US), Del Sol Review (US), Left Curve (US), The American Dissident (US), The Stinging Fly (Eire), Crannog Magazine (Eire) and on the deaddrunkdublin website.

 

 

 

The Enlightenment

Mark  A. Murphy


 


Every breath is precious. He labours,
he struggles, like a man in an iron lung,
except he welds a spade to his fist
and says nothing.
 


No protest, no murmur of disbelief,
no sound issues forth from his mouth.
One might think his lips
had been sown together


with surgical thread, so silent is he.
How many thousands of years
have brought us to this,
how many systems of thought?
 


He digs for dear life,
broken-backed, making no complaint
behind the steel barbs,
beseeching no heaven with his eyes.
 


Above the broken stone and fire
only one voice protests
with any certainty. The voice snaps
like a steel trap above the wind: Dig, you bastard, dig!


 


 


Mark A. Murphy’s poems have appeared in Poetry New Zealand, Poetry Scotland, Quarterly Literary Review (Singapore), The Warwick Review (UK), Struggle (UK), Istanbul Literature Review (Turkey), Paris Atlantic Journal (France), Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), Litspeak (Germany), Contemporary Literary Horizons (Romania), Munyori (India), Taj Mahal Review (India), The Tampa Review (US), Del Sol Review (US), Left Curve (US), The American Dissident (US), The Stinging Fly (Eire), Crannog Magazine (Eire) and on the deaddrunkdublin website.


Mark A. Murphy was born in the UK in 1969. He studied philosophy as an under-graduate and poetry as a post-graduate. His first full length collection, Night Watch Man & Muse is pending from Salmon Poetry (Eire) early in 2012.


 


 

Sanctuary

Mark A. Murphy

 

Every night you open in me a fountain

of forbidden words,

words like love and sadness and freedom

and though none or few

(too few to make a difference)

shall listen to those troubled words,

the words must be written

lest the present should ever be forgotten.

 

While the generals celebrate

and the rulings of state empower the rich,

we are never far from the troubled lives of the poor,

or the boys in uniform, the uneasy killers –

who write their final letters home.

It is not possible to say when the war will end,

or count the dead in such a way

as to bring any comfort to the living.

 

You say, ‘get up, do not be afraid,

write your poems, my love.’

And there it is again, the struggle

to be one’s self, the customary carnage,

the struggle to speak the truth.

What man will raise his arms in defiance –

raise his head above the hole

he has spent years digging for himself?

 

Every night you free me

from the disapproval of my fellow poets

whose ancient belief in the natural order of things

condones the ‘war of all against all.’

And so we return once more to forbidden words,

words like peace and justice and brotherhood –

even these words must be written

albeit against the stream.

 

 

please see Author, Mark A. Murphy’s bio in his additional works for CWPJ and on the Author’s page.

 

TROLLEY

Marc Carver

 

I look outside the window
and see the shopping trolley
that is sat in the park.
It has been there now
for about two or three weeks
I have lost count
Of how long.
 
I have seen young children being pushed about in it.
But there is no one there today.
The park is empty
and so
is the trolley.
 
The clouds get blacker and the rain gets heavier.
A bird flies over the trolley
And out of view.
 
I change my view
But still
I
Feel the same way.

 

 

Marc Carver has published four books of poetry, worked on a poetry site in New York City and has had two hundred poems published individually. He has performed in America and all around the venues in London and southern England. He resides in the United Kingdom.
  

 

Your Mother The Madwoman

Rae Rose

 

Bees crazy off nectar, darkest plums were turning black,
old ladies sat in their cars with the air on.

 

The woman dropped you off at the bottom of your hill
and you were plumper. They must have fed you well
in the child protection service. We were 12, I guess.

 

Your mother had just been shipped off
to an institution again. We walked to your house
so you could pick up some clothes
and found a pile of The National Geographic
in the driveway.  She had cut out pictures of women
and set the magazines on fire.
The women were in a pile, under a rock in the sun.

 

I think we laughed – but not at your dolls,
strewn across the house with their eyes cut out,
bleeding cotton up and down the hallway.

 

I watched your face as you looked around.
Too young to know any words to save anybody,
I wished it wasn’t your house.

 

Dolls who couldn’t see. Paper women under a rock.
Something about women – something about body –
what was she trying to silence?
We found a litter of puppies outside,
one of them was dead.

 

The others were healthy, so healthy.
How were they able to do it?
They survived somehow.
“Where should we take them?” you asked.
We understood we were on our own.

 

I buried the dead puppy with the paper women.
I don’t know why.
Something about women,
something about body,
trying to silence something
in the desert heat.

 

 

Rae Rose’s poetry and fiction have published in literary journals, including The Pedestal Magazine, Cicada, Earth’s Daughters, Today’s Alternative News, Contemporary World Literature: Journal for the Arts, The San Diego Poetry Annual and THEMA.

 

Bake Challah in Heels

Rae Rose

 

Martha Stewart would run for her life.
I twist dough into snakes, slam them on countertop.
Teacups rattle. I scream. All over the world,
Jewish women are braiding bread –
how do they do it so damn holy?
It wasn’t God I thought of when I punched this dough,
 but a man who tricked me, a man before that,
and the first man –  maybe I did think of God.
I punched someone’s dough face.

 

Out my window – a woman without a home
sleeps under a bridge. I punched whoever built this city,
invented these laws. How do holy women do it?
Pretty heads bowed over ovens, aprons dusted with sugar,
a sweet smile on every rosy face.
My kitchen? Hiroshima made of flour.
Egg shells litter counters as if I am a red-tailed hawk
stealing from nests, cracking eggs with beak —
can you create something holy if you are angry?
When God (supposedly) made the world, was He furious?
Is that why He made everything in the dark,
was He too scared to look?

 

I separate Challah, ripping out a piece of dough
like I am ripping out an eye –
that eye that saw his last trick,
that eye that saw me pull at my veins like cats cradle
and scrub my flesh with Brillo pads,
I am pulling out that eye – that stain –  that hurt –  from this braided body that is now so – so –

 

curvy. So female. 

 

I use my fingertips,
glaze Challah with egg whites.
It shimmers like moonlight hugging curves.
The heat will harden her, thicken her skin.
She will be able to take it. Take anything.
Pull down the moon– my moon –
– my light – my curves – my invention –
I am reinventing woman. My own recipe – no rib required.
I have created something holy in a world 
in which everything was already invented for me. Poorly.
This time I will change.
I look at the woman under the bridge.
Maybe this time, we’ll change everything.

 

 

 

Rae Rose’s poetry and fiction have published in literary journals, including The Pedestal Magazine, Cicada, Earth’s Daughters, Today’s Alternative News, CWLJA, The San Diego Poetry Annual and THEMA.

WHEAT

Oriana Ivy 

              for the people of the village of Ponikła 

 

Tassels flow through my hand,
beads of grain roll against
the husk of my palm.
I lean to the lost

 

fire of the weeds:
the blue flame
of cornflowers,
papery mouths of poppies.

 

A rooster’s few
drawn-out notes
journey in the echo.
I stand shoulder-deep

 

in blond light.
Wind holds me,
then lets me go.

 

A farmer halts his horse,
points at me with his whip:
Black hair, strong head.
You will never go crazy.

 

*

 

I am the harvest now.
Sheaf by sheaf,
sky holds me,
then lets me go.

 

 

Oriana Ivy was born in Poland and came to the United States when she was 17. Her poems, essays, book reviews, and translations from modern Polish poetry have been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry 1992, Nimrod, New Letters, The Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Black Warrior, Wisconsin Review, Prairie Schooner, Spoon River Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals and anthologies. A former journalist and community college instructor, she teaches poetry workshops. She lives in San Diego.

 

 

WHAT THE GYPSY SAID

Oriana Ivy

 

From abysses of her skirt she pulls
a pack of cards, draws five,
spreads them in a fan.
My boyfriend and I see only

 

destiny’s backside,
oily gray as the tail
of an old Warsaw pigeon.
In a pause between the worlds,

 

she ponders the first card –
slowly looks up
with stone-black eyes:
You are going on a great journey.

 

I nearly faint. The city swirls
with solstice light; and in my
purse, barely obtained,
my American visa.

 

You will be rich, the Gypsy drones;
You will have three children . . .
She turns to my boyfriend, draws
another fan of cards:

 

Fear sits in your stomach.
His face turns completely white –
he’s terrified of the draft.
Behind us, huge heroic

 

statues of workers and peasants
lift hammers, sickles, march
into the future –
the Gypsy prehistoric,

 

scarf flowering red poppies.
You are thinking of a female head . . .
You will have two children . . .
He glowers – not with me. 

 


And you will be rich, she hastily
adds, her bronze narrow hand
plunging my bronze ten zlotys
down the forever of her skirt.

 

I’m seventeen. So this is fate.
Holding hands, he and I
walk the blossoming boulevards.
“A waste of money,” he says.

 

Pale golden bells of linden trees
hum with bees, a million voices
droning the same story –
one that begins, A Gypsy said . . .

 

 

Oriana Ivy was born in Poland and came to the United States when she was 17. Her poems, essays, book reviews, and translations from modern Polish poetry have been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry 1992, Nimrod, New Letters, The Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Black Warrior, Wisconsin Review, Prairie Schooner, Spoon River Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals and anthologies. A former journalist and community college instructor, she teaches poetry workshops. She lives in San Diego.

CASSANDRA IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

Oriana Ivy

 

Te idiotki, my hostess calls
the American women.
“These idiots go in public like that,”
she exclaims at the sight
of housewives helmeted in rollers.
Hawaiian muumuus splash
hibiscus in the produce aisles:
 “That’s how these idiots dress” –
When we see a young family:
“These idiots marry at eighteen
and have five children.”

           

With a wave of her bony but still
elegant hand, she points to
an overflowing shopping cart –
skyscrapers of canned soup,
soda pop, Puffa-Puffa Rice –
“Isn’t it vulgar?”

 

Then she turns toward me
as I stand there with my meek
girl-from-a-good-home smile.
Eyes me sharply
up and down.
For the first and only time,

 

she addresses me in English:
You will never make it.
You don’t know
how to sell yourself.
Her hard “r” in never
laughs like a knife.

 

 

Oriana Ivy please see Oriana’s full biography in her additional works in this issue and on the Author’s Page.

 

 

ASHES AND DIAMONDS

Oriana Ivy

 

                         When our life is ashes, it will not
                         Be ashes through and through –
                         For under the ash will remain
                         A starry diamond.
                                   ~ Cyprian Norwid

 

 

You were born under an unlucky star,
the fake Gypsy said
at the half-price
reading of my palms.
The windowsill was lit
by Jesus with a light bulb heart.
Do you believe in God?
the Gypsy pressed.

Earlier that year, I turned down
three gorgeous young men.
How could I reach the heights
unless I sublimated my libido?

 

But where was it, this new Life in Art?
I was drowning in a maelstrom
of erotic fantasies. In the end
I threw myself at an alcoholic
Vietnam veteran, the comet of his
ponytail the flag of Mr. Wrong.

 

In the quiet of my appeased body,
I could see the oleanders again,
starry scatter of poisonous blossoms.
I could smell the iodine ocean.
You don’t even know what love is,
the Gypsy wailed. But perhaps I did.

 

First thing in job-shattered morning,
I’d reach for a book that slept
with me under the pillow.
That was my real love life;
my youth, between weeping.
My star the color of ash.
Yet underneath that death,
immortal diamond.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                               Oriana Ivy – please see author’s full biography in her additional works or on the Author’s Page.

The Wishes of Sand are Simple

R.T. Sedgwick

 

to be smoothed out
on a wide stretch of beach
 

to become the mold
of a million footprints

 

to be whisked into whirlwinds
by Simoom or Sirocco

 

to sift into rippled dunes
like a blizzard’s morning after

 

to merge with a shape-shifting landscape
content beneath out-of-reach sky

 

or be scuffed by camel hoofs
traipsing after elusive oases

 

grab onto pointed Bedouin tent-poles
bask in the blaze of their tall torches

 

but never to be
the lone-wolf grain

 

who burrows into someone’s shoe
and bites their heel

                                   

 

R. T. Sedgwick is a poet living in Del Mar, CA.  He has attended Harry Griswold’s Pleasures of Poetry workshop for the last nine years, Idyllwild Summer Arts Poetry in 2005 through 2010 and has participated in a Master Poetry Workshop lead by Dr. Sam Hamod in 2007 and 2009. He spent one week in 2006 at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA studying under poets Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux and Joe Millar. He is currently enrolled in a monthly critique group that meets in Rancho Bernardo, CA. He has four books of poetry, “Forgotten Woods”, “Harmony of a Storm”, “Sand Castles”, and “Circles and Lines” published by sedgwickARTcards, Del Mar, CA, as well as numerous poems published in various anthologies and periodicals.

Commands of the Wind

R.T. Sedgwick

 

Come down from your pine-covered hill

through clumps of wild daisies

step along the rocky path,

chill of morning deep inside you,

your own walking keeping you warm

and let the sun as it climbs its own hill

reflect a brightness on the lagoon below,

giving depth to the sea-birds—cormorants

egrets, ducks and herons—look around,

reeds bending in the breeze, soil

giving beneath your feet and remember,

as though you had picked some daisies

and are holding a bouquet of them

over the water’s edge and you see their

reflection along with your own smiling face

and the willingness of your ruffled hair

to obey the commands of the wind

 

 

R. T. Sedgwick is a poet living in Del Mar, CA.  He has attended Harry Griswold’s Pleasures of Poetry workshop for the last nine years, Idyllwild Summer Arts Poetry in 2005 through 2010 and has participated in a Master Poetry Workshop lead by Dr. Sam Hamod in 2007 and 2009. He spent one week in 2006 at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA studying under poets Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux and Joe Millar. He is currently enrolled in a monthly critique group that meets in Rancho Bernardo, CA. He has four books of poetry, “Forgotten Woods”, “Harmony of a Storm”, “Sand Castles”, and “Circles and Lines” published by sedgwickARTcards, Del Mar, CA, as well as numerous poems published in various anthologies and periodicals.

The Ronald Reagan Memorial Poem

Brandon Cesmat

 

Mr. President, given you medical history
the “Reagan Memorial” anything seemed in poor taste to me.
But after seeing your spirit float proudly along your freeways,
through so many schools and over your own aircraft carrier,
the jets taking off and disappearing like many facts,
I now bow to peer pressure and offer this memorial poem.
 
I saw your funeral inside the National Cathedral,
          the camera at a bird’s-eye angle
          the same as God must’ve had:
          ring of mourners around your casket,
          mise-en-scène as if by Busby Berkeley,
          the way you would’ve wanted it.
Your coffin sat to the bottom of the encircling crowd, so
your funeral looked like The Smiley Face gone serious and blind.
 
How appropriate, I thought, not the blindness,
but the respectful space around your coffin,
for it was there the ghosts began to drift:
the Iranians whom Iraq gassed with military aid
you initiated over Amnesty International’s cries. Listen,
we can still hear them weeping for Kurds, Kuwaitis and,
of course, our own.
How good of you to sit up in the casket and salute.
 
Then came the Nicaraguenses, some carrying
their diaphanous limbs lopped off by your contras.
In grace, they piled eyes, ears, breasts,
genitalia and tongues into your coffin.
 
The Salvadoreños wearing neutralized expressions
followed the Afghanis whom your freedom fighters liberated
from life and any happy pursuit not
allowed by a literal reading of the Koran.
 
Finally, the Guatamaltecos crowded
comfortably around your coffin;
they’d been practicing in mass graves at least
since you restored military aid in ‘81.
                                                         
Did you recognize the ghost of Bishop Juan Gerardi?
You were deep in the delusions of Alzheimer’s in ‘98 when
a graduate of Fort Benning’s School of the Americas
bludgeoned Bishop Gerardi for counting Guatemala’s dead.
Genocide plus one.
 
How big of you not to make a fuss when
Gerardi helped you from your coffin and absolved you,
you not repenting and all that.
 
Your coffin loaded with broken bodies, the ghosts
glided beside you riding behind the caisson,
the nation honoring you in death as in life:
remembering nothing but good things:
how you held the picket line at the Warsaw shipyards,
how you stared down the Kremlin guards who took you hostage,
how you freed Tibet and
personally piloted the Dali Lama home on Air Force One.
 
It must have been at that moment of the procession,
you riding backwards yet comfortable in your old boots,
all of us suffering Sympathy Alzheimer’s,
that your mind was healed and
you understood you were on your way to heaven,
to spend eternity with the ghosts flowing beside you,
and that was when you began to cue the horse back
along the trail, so the bullets would revert to dollars,
the ink on the executive order flowing into the pen in your hand.
God bless that horse,
even with you sitting backwards in the saddle like that,
it wanted to obey your cues and turn from the grave,
but, alas, the soldier leading it had other orders.

 

 

Brandon Cesmat has conducted readings throughout The Americas. His books include Driven into the Shade, Light in All Directions and When Pigs Fall in Love. His blog is http://brandoncesmat.blogspot.com/ 

Cesmat currently teaches creative writing at CSU San Marcos and for California Poets in the Schools. He blogs about writer residencies for CPITS at http://cpits.wordpress.com/ 
           

Cesmat’s interdisciplinary work includes performances with the arts ensemble Drought Buoy, collaborating with visual artists at the Escondido Municipal Gallery and California Center for the Arts Museum, a documentary on poetry from the San Diego-Tijuana region titled Cruzando Líneas. He is currently an artist in residence for the San Diego Arts Institute Page-to-Stage program.

 

Happy Godfather’s Day

Brandon Cesmat

 

Mexican vendors prepare me for home
with Tony Montana merchandise.
The way little girls wrap themselves in The Little Mermaid towels
or little boys dream in Transformer pajamas,
adolescent males cover dorm walls with Scarface bedspreads and posters.
Tony, the anti-communist drug lord,
overlooks more pyramids of empty beer cans in U.S. dorms
than all portraits of Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and Abe Lincoln combined.
 
“Mi padrino,” says the jallero in front of his curios.
Yes, I pray. Our godfather who art lining the way home to El Norte,
hallowed be thy merchandise.
Thy drugs that run, thy empire come,
in Omaha as in Bogata.
 
I look both ways on this street.
Federales stop traffic for pandillas on the way to playas.
Oh Tijuana, with gangland executions in vacant lots,
Oh Chula Vista, oblivious neighbor where Pontiac sells bullet proof Escalades
Oh the Americas, one continent, so many people.
from TJ to LA hear Don Corleone sing,
 
(To the tune of “God Bless America”)
 
Gangster America, land that I whack
from the Indians with casinos
who think they can buy their country back.
From the mountains, to the prairies, to the ocean front I own,
gangster America the land that takes,
gangster America, makes no mistakes.

 

 

Brandon Cesmat has conducted readings throughout The Americas. His books include Driven into the Shade, Light in All Directions and When Pigs Fall in Love. His blog is http://brandoncesmat.blogspot.com/

Cesmat currently teaches creative writing at CSU San Marcos and for California Poets in the Schools. He blogs about writer residencies for CPITS at http://cpits.wordpress.com/ 
           

Cesmat’s interdisciplinary work includes performances with the arts ensemble Drought Buoy, collaborating with visual artists at the Escondido Municipal Gallery and California Center for the Arts Museum, a documentary on poetry from the San Diego-Tijuana region titled Cruzando Líneas. He is currently an artist in residence for the San Diego Arts Institute Page-to-Stage program.

Bordercrossers

Brandon Cesmat

 

Where the road from Playas twists
to aim all four lanes at la linea,
a line that fades if not high-lighted,
a red sedan stalls in heavy traffic
smothering the downhill momentum
toward the digital surveillance slots.
 
A hungover passenger climbs out,
his beard measuring four careless days.
He falls against the trunk and,
his life’s weight rolls his junk home,
past the rainbow vendors of mementos
caricatured by migration north and south.
 
Gravity fights back and fatigue brakes him,
makes the lanes like metal bars of a cage.
La vieja raising a box of Chicklets,
amazingly animates me to get out
of my car and help push for home.

 

 

Brandon Cesmat – please see author’s full bio in his additional works and on the author’s page.

The Old Buenos Aires’ Shoeshine Man

Pietro Grieco

 

When he shines shoes,
speaks and gestures watermarks in the air,
it is habitual that his hands
resemble dreams of dreams unfulfilled–
But, what customer knows or guesses
behind that smile what polishes and burnishes
the tough desires of his memory?

 

Now, unshaved for days
on the sunny sidewalk of Florida Street
he sleeps. Yes, he sleeps in his summer smile
wrapped by the golden light of the winter sun.

 

Who is going to ask him to shine shoes?
The million people that daily flows past.
How? He has an infinite dream…
In it he runs now!
Runs and jumps on a prairie,
following swallows and countryside doves,
blue doves
while drunken orange blossoms perfumes,
caress his hair.

 

Even if the wax melts, the flannels fly
and the brushes walk,     who?
But who can awaken him
from such exclusive chimeral treasure?

 

Sadly, I never knew his name

 

 

Pietro Grieco

 

 Pietro Grieco is Doctor of Divinity, has an OBD in Administration Sciences, and a Master of Arts in Literature and Writing.  He taught at the Buenos Aires University and Belgrano University in Argentina, and  at the California State University San Marcos, CA.  Mr. Grieco wrote academic essays, poetry and seven books. Some of his articles on spirituality have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. He resides with his wife Blanchette in Spain.

 

 

¿Qué sucede en este mundo? What Happens in this World

Pietro Grieco

 

¿Qué sucede en este mundo?

 

Las abejas están desapareciendo
Del aire de la primavera.

 

Los pájaros con el corazón
Quebrado caen del cielo.

 

Los peces de a miles salen del mar
Para depositar sus cuerpos clamando una
misericordia de ojos abiertos sobre las riberas.

 

¿Y los humanos? ¿Qué sucede con
Los humanos?
¿Te refieres a esos ciegos
cadáveres que caminan?

 

What happens in this world?

 

Bees are vanishing
From the air of spring.

 

Birds with broken hearts
are falling from the sky.

 

Fish are coming out of water
And deposit their bodies on the shore
Claiming mercy with big open eyes.

 

And what is going on with humans?
You mean those walking
Corpses who lost their eyes…

 

 

Pietro Grieco is Doctor of Divinity, has an OBD in Administration Sciences, and a Master of Arts in Literature and Writing.  He taught at the Buenos Aires University and Belgrano University in Argentina, and  at the California State University San Marcos, CA.  Mr. Grieco wrote academic essays, poetry and seven books. Some of his articles on spirituality have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

I HOPE NEVER TO RUN A BULLDOZER (IN MEMORY OF RACHEL CORRIE)

Pietro Grieco

 

Evocating a photo of Tiananmen Square,
An young teen-aged American girl faces a bulldozer
Sent to destroy homes and hopes
Of  Palestinian families

 

The animated film
Shows the Israeli bulldozer
Run down her body,
Slowly crushing her,
Bones mixing her
Blood with that ancient
Palestinian land,
Back and forth,
Back and forth he goes, mashing her
Into the earth and into history,
Because the driver
A patriot man,
A good zionist man
Wanted to be efficient,
Wanted to be sure of 
A work well done

 

Something happens
In my stomach,
Suddenly
All the history of the world
Runs through my veins and my guts
And I fear my temples are going to blow up–
It cannot be true   it is only a film, I say to myself
The Israelis know the Commandments and the Law
They went through infinite sufferings and the holocaust

 

It cannot be true they fear the ire of the Empire
And very easily they can be crushed too,
No, it cannot be true.

 

It is not true
No human being can crush
The body of an innocent girl
Claiming for justice
For human rights and for
Optimism in the world.

 

I know it is not true
No human being
Nor a good Jew
Can such action do.

 

I know it is not true
Because no apology
Will return her life
No prayer will restore
Our feeble hope
No reason will
Suffice our minds.

 

I know it is not true
The friends
The politicians
The judges
The senators
The representatives
The governments
The presidents
The ministers
Even the enemies
The press and all
The powerful of the world
Will act and slam their fist
Will cry with indignation
Will act at the unison
And stop the bulldozers of hate
Jump and save the innocent
With a biblical name

 

The scene wasn’t revised
And none came to save
Idealistic Rachel Corrie,

 

None is hoping to restore
Hope to my shattered hope.
I wish someone would come
And hope to hope with me,
Help to restore meaning
Mending small words:
Life, peace, Love

 

My neighbor, I remember his
Tears in disbelief, he who went
To work ideals in a kibbutz
But left when he could not
Do his biology work with
A machine gun. As these
Things can happen I hope
Never to run a bulldozer
Or watching TV news
Having peacefully
A miserable cup of tea

 

 

 

 

Pietro Grieco

please see Dr. Grieco’s complete bio on the Author’s page and additional works, SPRING ISSUE, 2011

 

 

 

 

The End of the World

Pietro Grieco

 

Golden letters engraved in wood
tell travelers they have reached
the end of the Pan-American Highway.
A tranquil landmark lucid as the sun
leaving me speechless and alone.
the end…  the abyss…  the end…
the waves…  hypnotizing the silent
loneliness of moss, soul and stones
receiving the beat of the surge
a mantra for iris and retina
perplexed unknown at the end
of the labyrinth of this world.
Facing a gray and frosted horizon
imagining an ephemeral continent
behind the feared Cape Horn
and the mariners graveyard
whitens my mind.
Steps in long decades
drove me
to the world’s end:
Tierra del Fuego.
Stunned in this Land of Fire akin
to an original Patagonian Ona Indian
wide eyed to flames dancing
under the Southern Cross at
aliens coming from Finisterre.

 

Moved
I closed my eyes.
Facing an invisible threshold
        the temptation was nearby to
                embrace the cross or steal the fire or
                jump and be swallowed by the whale
                sacrificing for something bigger than
myself bypassing the line of madness
                to live not by bread alone, be
or descend into the darkness of time
                losing my being in the transformation
                while this epiphany plays an arrested
                rhythm between this instant and eternity.

 

Stepping over the end
of a global universe,
end and beginning have
the same meaning as
the end of winter or the start of summer,
in a meaningful and futile
temptation we define
the end as a lucid revelation
                where not a bird sings
and we draw the line
where we break our dreams
and we step over our hearts
where we decide to pass on
                        and awaken the next day
                where an end seems to be
                        is never an end but
                        a new stone to step on
                        a new path to transcendence
                where  the best Victory of Samothrace
                        flies away from the furnace
                        of our burning chest.
The end of the universe is not a destiny.
The end of the universe is not a place.
It is only a location in our minds where
We step upon immanence for a new experience

 

My sight stirs
the same pebbles resembling
faithful dogs at my feet. Similar
to those mysteries of life
the same small miracles that
keep us going. Thus
the end of the universe is not a destiny.
The end of the universe is never a place
It is an act of imagination!

 

Breathe in
breathe out
Breathe in
breathe out.
The horn honks
Disrupting my reverie
The head turned toward the empty
bus for our return to Ushuaia
walking this clear tear of joy
like a simple speck of dust
I realized we are all part
of a poem
the universe is writing with us

 

Pietro Grieco – please see author’s bio on author’s page, and in additional works.

 

إذا كان كوكبنا مغطى بالأزهار ال (If the Planet Were Covered With Wildflowers)

Lahab Assef Al-Jundi  (لهب عاصف الجندي)

 

إذا كان كوكبنا مغطى بالأزهار البريه،وماتَ أحدُّ بقسوة في الصين،تختفي كل الزهور.وَيملأ فضاءٌ من الظلمة مكانهم.وقتٌ للحزن.

هل سبق لك أن شربت من كأس الخلود؟طعم الخلود أطيب من أي وقت مضى.لماذا أستيقظ والأزهار البرية

تغطي العالم، وموتٌ في الصين، والخلود؟

فقط…  ذاتي الحالمه تعرف.

كلُ الشعر مكونٌ من أحرف أبجدية.كلُ الوجوه المتنوعة…عينان وشفتان وأنف.كلُ شيء عرفناه أو سنعرفهيمكن أن يُروى بالآحاد والأصفار.مازلتَ تعتقد أن الخلق عملية معقده؟

قلبي مغطى بالأزهار البرية.أظن أني سأعود للنوم وأزرع أكثر.سيجعلني هذا العالم قاحلاً مع هبوب الريحإذا لم أشرب وأشرب،

وأُسكب عواصف رعدية من الحزن الأزرق… 

 

If the Planet Were Covered with Wildflowers

If the planet were covered with wildflowers,
and someone dies a cruel death in China,
all the blooms would disappear.
A space of darkness would fill their place.
A time of sorrow.

Have you ever drank from eternity’s cup?
Eternity has never tasted so good.

Why would I wake up with a  wildflower-
covered world, death in China, and eternity?
Only my dreaming-self knows!

All poetry is assembled from letters of an alphabet.
All these diverse faces are two eyes, two lips and a nose.
Everything we ever knew or will know
can be told with ones and zeros.
You still think creation is that complicated?

My heart is covered with wildflowers.
I think I will go back to sleep and grow some more.
This world could render me arid with blowing winds
if I did not drink and drink,

Pour thunderstorms of blue grief…

 

 

photo by Melanie Rush Davis

Assef (Lahab) Al-Jundi  (لهب عاصف الجندي) was born, and grew up, in Damascus, Syria.  He published his first collection A Long Way in 1985. Assef’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary publications, and many Anthologies including: In These Latitudes, Ten Contemporary Poets, edited by Robert Bonazzi, Inclined to Speak, An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry, edited by Hayan Charara, and Between Heaven and Texas, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye. He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas, with wife Sara and two cockatiels Yoda and Princes.

 

 

Let the Tears Fall

Lahab Assef Al-Jundi  (لهب عاصف الجندي)
                                              Arab Spring, 2011
 

This year
Now
I’m so waiting for spring
No
Not the usual
I’m tired of the cold and wish for sun
This year
It is different
I’m craving the utter force of change
I want to witness
Earth cracking
Ground moving in a million ways
I want the old to die
Revolutions to transform
Poems to flower out of blood-soaked dirt


This year
Now
I want peace to be the violent birth
Let tears fall
After death has had its way
Let spring roar like a thunder river
 

Photo by Melanie Rush Davis

Lahab Assef Al Jundi (لهب عاصف الجندي)

was born, and grew up, in Damascus, Syria.  He published his first collection A Long Way in 1985. Assef’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary publications, and many Anthologies including: In These Latitudes, Ten Contemporary Poets, edited by Robert Bonazzi, Inclined to Speak, An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry, edited by Hayan Charara, and Between Heaven and Texas, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye. He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas, with wife Sara and two cockatiels Yoda and Princes.

 
 
 
 
 
 

A Date With the Moon

Lahab Assef Al-Jundi (لهب عاصف الجندي)

 

Last night I had a date with the moon.
I arrived early.
A small knoll by a high perimeter fence
topped with barbed wire.
“Prohibited.  Do Not Enter” sign
in red letters, hung on chain links.
In front of me, Texas Highway 281.
Beyond, airport runways graying
in faded evening light.

I sat waiting on hard thirsty earth.
Patches of spring grasses.
A few drooping wildflowers.
I squinted in the strong breeze
to keep dust out of my eyes.
Images of rebels on the road to Tripoli
seeped into my head.
They were battling a sandstorm
and killer mercenaries.
Fumes from passing traffic
drifted warm into my nostrils.
Tires hissing and growling along.
Oddly sweet.
Calming.
Cries of the wounded in Dara’a and Hama
reverberated.
Teargas-choked gasps.
People screaming:
“Freedom”.

Little by little sky darkened.
Lights shimmered brighter in the haze
of landing jet engines.
My anxious gaze scanned eastward
over runways and fields.
Neighborhoods settling down
for evening’s meal.

Out there
where horizon fades
between heaven and land,
moon warily emerged
bathed in crimson shades.

Boldly climbed.

Set night on fire.

 

 

Lahab Assef Al-Jundi please see author’s biographical information in his additional works, and on the Author’s Page.

WMWSD (Weapons of Men Who Self-Destruct)for Sheikh al-Libi, his interrogators and all who believed them

Brandon Cesmat

 

“Are you horrific, Sheikh al Libi?”
“No!” the prisoner screams.
“Did you witness meetings between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein?”
“No!” he screams some more.
“Are you thirsty, Sheikh al Libi?”
and he screams deeply, like a harpooned whale.
 
During the waterboarding,
Sheikh al Libi asks his interrogators,
Are you really so wealthy
you want to wage another land war in Asia?
I mean, it’ll cost money you ain’t got.
I suppose you could borrow it from China.
I never knew you guys were that tight.
But don’t you love your citizens, more than that?
You’ve don’t have a problem killing us by the thousands,
I get that.
But thousands of your own, really?
Ya know, the lethal stress of the truth
is a slow trauma none of us survives.
 
The interrogator turned off the hose.
Years ago, he would’ve whipped al-Libi with it.
Now, it was like gardening.
What could he raise in this desert?
 
“Are you horrific, Sheikh al-Libi?”
“Yes!” Sheikh al-Libi screams.
“Do you want to kill Americans?”
“Yes!” he screams again.
“Do you know where the weapons of mass destruction are?”
They all listened hard. Al-Libi heard the hum of power
running through the prison walls of Bagrahm Air Base,
a hum left there by Soviet electricians,
a power running through thoughtful transformers.
“Of course, I know where the weapons of mass destruction are hidden,”
Sheikh al Libi said, sliding the words like blades
through gaps hypocrisy had blown through their Kevlar.
“I’ll tell you what you want to know.”
And everyone in the room got what he wanted.

 

 

 

Brandon Cesmat please see complete biographical information on the author’s additional works and on the Author’s Page.

 

 

Book of Sins (House of Nehesi Publishers) by Palestinian/Israeli poet Nidaa Khoury

Reviews in from South Africa, Israel, Turkey
Book of Sins by Palestinian/Israeli poet Nidaa Khoury published in the Caribbean

 
ST. MARTIN, Caribbean (2011)—Book of Sins by Nidaa Khoury, a leading Palestinian poet in Israel, has been released here by House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP), said publisher Lasana M. Sekou.

The new poetry collection is the eighth book by Khoury but her first full English translation with the full Arabic and Hebrew texts in the same book, said Sekou.Nidaa Khoury is “One of the major exponents of modernist Arab women writing,” said Israeli professor Yair Huri.In Book of Sins, Khoury’s poetry “is fired by belief in the human and the spiritual at a time when many of us feel unreal and often spiritually hollow,” said Huri.Khoury’s poems “are burning off the pages—with a rhythm embedded in fury and a beauty embedded in the ancient,” said the South African novelist Antjie Krog.Betsy Rosenberg translated what Huri calls “The exquisite purity of Khoury’s style” in Book of Sins from the original Arabic into English and Hebrew.

With Book of Sins HNP is further introducing the Middle Eastern poet to the Caribbean and the Americas www.Amazon.com, said Sekou.
This is HNP’s third multilingual poetry book in less than one year. The press, based on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean, has published literary giants such as George Lamming, Kamau Brathwaite, Amiri Baraka, Chiqui Vicioso, and Shake Keane.
 

Nidaa Khoury was born in the Galilee village of Fassuta in 1959. Her books include The Barefoot River, The Prettiest of Gods Cry, and The Bitter Crown. The latter was censored in Jordan. Her previous titles were published in Israel, Lebanon, and Egypt.

 

According to the Turkish author Karin Karakaşlı, Book of Sins is “Written in water and ink, in between the shed blood. Nidaa Khoury’s poems take us to the bosom of an ancient woman… an archetype revived.”Khoury is studied in Israeli universities and widely reviewed by the Arab press. She is the founder of the Association of Survival, an NGO for minorities in Israel.

The poet has participated in over 30 international conferences such as the Conference of Arab Poets (Amsterdam), the Conference of Human Rights and Solidarity with the Third World (Paris), Poetry Africa, the Poetry Festival of Jordan, the International Poetry Festival of Medellin, the St. Martin Book Fair, and the Napoli Conference on Human Rights.Khoury, a senior lecturer at Ben-Gurion University, is the subject of the recent award-winning film, Nidaa Through Silence. Sarab for Dance is also producing Khoury’s poem “Portal to the Orient,” which is in Book of Sins, for performance in Palestine.
 

Book of Sins is available at www.Amazon.com, www.spdbooks.org, and www.houseofnehesipublish.com. Ask for this new title at your favorite bookstore.

 

 

Nidaa Khoury, a major exponent of modernist Arab women writing.