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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

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.

A Bit of A Pout

Imen Bennani

 

I am here with the Viscaria,
left the Hyacinth behind,

brought Petunia instead
 

Do you hear the leaves growling?
the stigma gritting its teeth?

 

 Let me undo my hair…
remove this diamante slide,
release those tresses…
throw those golden rose pins and flower grips on the floor!

like a little spoiled girl
when contended with

 

Let me linger for a while with this pout
I need it to shape my serene smile afterwards

 

 

Imen Bennani

Imen Bennani

is a Tunisian teacher and scholar. She graduated from the faculty of Arts of Sousse (Tunisia) where she worked as assistant and taught English Literature. Imen Bennani made her MA on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and is currently preparing her PhD on contemporary Arab American Poetry. She now works as researcher at CEREDICREC (The Center for Research and Studies in the Dialogue of Cultures and Comparative Religions), Sousse, Tunisia. Her fields of interest include American Literature, Arab Literature, and Literary translation.

 

 

THREADS

Imen Bennani

 

Threads, threads
the bobbins in the heads
Am doubting the beginnings
dreading the ends
shall I drink up love’s cup to the dregs?
Here I am standing
with the white thread
waiting
for dawn to break, to
tell me: “you are right”

would I break the fast
at sunset in that sea
with love dates and glasses of ecstasy?
Or pledge eternal abstinence and see?
Threads, threads,
the black ones and the reds
Emily Dickinson’s ‘yarn of pearl’
or Hafiz’ smiling faces at the deathbeds?
Should Ariadne have supplied Thesus with the thread?
left deserted on the island
found dead
threads, threads
and mine with God cut–
I miss Him so
need to quickly make a knot
and climb to Him
follow the thread
threads, threads,
would my mouth smell of smoke
and my lips taste wine?
Would there be traces
of squeezed grapes?
Methinks I’d want God to check my mouth
then smile and say,   

 “I am satisfied”

 

 

Imen Bennani is a Tunisian teacher and scholar. She graduated from the faculty of Arts of Sousse (Tunisia) where she worked as assistant and taught English Literature. Imen Bennani made her MA on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and is currently preparing her PhD on contemporary Arab American Poetry. She now works as researcher at CEREDICREC (The Center for Research and Studies in the Dialogue of Cultures and Comparative Religions), Sousse, Tunisia. Her fields of interest include American Literature, Arab Literature, and Literary translation.

 

 

 

 

 

today i do such simple things

jim saliba

 

i get up

i take a hot steamy shower

wash away the night

i do not run out of water

the water does not bypass my home

on the way

up the hill

to my neighbors

the water runs into my house

washes over my skin

and drips into my open mouth

today i walk downtown to mail an express letter

no one stops me

no one asks me for a pass

i walk to work

no barricades block me

and if i wanted to go and buy a used car

and if i had a son

and i wanted to take my son

to look at

and maybe buy

a used car

i would not worry

we would go and look

at the car

i would not have to search for a concrete barrel

for us to hide behind

i would not have to stop the bullets

with no weapons nothing only my hand

reaching up and waving and shouting

the child the child

to stop them

before they shoot my son

and kill him

i would not worry

because today no one questions

my right to live on this land

we would go and see the car

and if we wanted

we would buy the car

and drive home

today i do such simple things

although today is yom kippur

no one locks me in my house

or barricades my street

i get up and go to work

i earn money to pay rent and buy food

and soap

and postage for the letter

i work on computers

no one questions my religion

or my ethnicity for my job

i do not have to work as a waiter or a builder

but if i chose to work as a waiter or a builder

or on computers

i could work today

no matter whose religious holiday it is

today they would not close my street

or lock me in my neighborhood

because today no one claims

a 3000 year old text makes it right

to throw me out of my home

to take away my land

to say there go to Canada

let the Canadians take you in

nobody questions my right to work

and to shower

and to eat

and to look at

and even to buy

a used cab

today i do such simple things

i hear the birds sing in the tree outside my window

i take a hot steamy shower

my neighbors up the hill do not take all the water for themselves

so i have water to wash and to drink today

i walk downtown and go to work

and if i want

i will go

to look at

and maybe buy

a used car

and if i had a son

i would take him

and i would not worry

my son would not press into my side

to hide from the bullets

and they would not shoot him in his belly

and he would not

die

 

* “this poem is about the death of mohammed al-dura, the 12 year old
palestinian boy who was photographed crouching beside his father,
moments before the boy was shot dead by israeli soldiers, at the
netzarim junction in gaza”  – jim saliba

first appeared in the Texas Observer

 

jim saliba – A descendant of turn-of-the-century Lebanese immigrants and rural Southern farmers, jim saliba grew up in Tennessee and Georgia. He studied drama at Stanford University and studied and taught poetry with June Jordan and her Poetry for the People program at the University of California at Berkeley. jim has constructed and directed performances in austria and california and is the artistic director of h e l p : human elemental laboratory of performance.

If the Planet Were Covered with Wildflowers

Lahab Assef Al-Jundi(لهب عاصف الجندي)

 

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…

 

 

 

إذا كان كوكبنا مغطى بالأزهار البريه

 

 

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 سنعرفه
يمكن 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 الريح
إذا لم أشرب وأشرب،

وأُسكب عواصف رعدية من الحزن الأزرق…
 

 

 

 

 

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.