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. 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Deluded

Kristen Scott

 

at sixteen I swallowed

ten Tylenol – the robin

egg blue ones,

with a fifth of Lord Calvert.

a painting of Jesus by

Palestinian shores

pushed me out the front door –

seeking adventure,    rowing

 my own delusional boat –

 

on 10th street I caught fish,

reeled them into my

501’s.   I decided to throw

them back on Bonair

and, so,  St. Paul sent me out

to the Sea of Galilee,

surrounded by MALE apostles

and that infamous prostitute –

Ah, Mary,      the one no one likes

to mention, not a prostitute

but BELOVED

FEMALE

AN APOSTLE –

 

Mary, I followed you from

sea to shining tomb,

awaiting the resurrection –

Instead, I got my stomach

pumped and a lecture from

my Philippine doctor.

my mother just wondered

why it was so hard to raise a girl. 
 
 
 
 

 please see author’s full bio in additional works and on author’s page.

The Life of Poetry

David Kherdian

 

Any biography must be divided into two parts; the years prior to 16, which are unconscious, or consciousness opening, and the years after 16, which are invented. We believe what we say, especially when we write what we claim is the truth. Aside from writing, what I have done since that age of 16 is irrelevant, no matter how damaging it may have been, and supposedly real on that account. It is my early  life that concerns me, but it is very nearly impossible to talk about this life except perhaps as art, because that is the dimension it most nearly approximates. What we know as growing children is instinctive and inseparable from our ecology, because we are controlled then by sun and tides, and our moods are more animal than human. The delicate thread then was not the dichotomy between fantasy and reality, family and solitary wandering, but my own unknowable relation to the sun and plants, and the mysterious upstream movement of fish (that I followed with such rapture and attention as to become fish myself), that determined the flow and current of my own life. This is the world we forfeit when we acquire adulthood, and this is the world of the unconscious that only children and artists know about. And it is as an artist that I am returning to what was once mine by birthright.Therefore, I have no biography worth telling as exterior event, and I will not tell that biography until it becomes the equivalent of and moves parallel to my own created life, which is poetry. I find in my writing that I gain the future by reclaiming and making whole the past. Only poetry can do this for me, because only through poetry can I achieve a working relationship with my unconscious, which gives shapes and forms to periods lived in chaos and ignorance. It takes years to understand an experience and a lifetime to know who we are. Therefore, in this true sense, all of  my writing is autobiographical because my own story, when truly told, becomes everyone’s.

 

 

David Kherdian is the author of 69 books: poetry, novels, biographies, memoirs, anthologies, bibliographies, retellings, translations, and children’s books (many illustrated by his Caldecott award winning wife, Nonny Hogrogian), which include a narrative biography of the Buddha, a retelling of the Asian classic Monkey,10 poetry anthologies, including his major groundbreaking anthology: Settling America: Fourteen Ethnic American Poets; Forgotten Bread: Armenian American Writers of the First Generation. His biography of his mother’s childhood and survival of the Armenian genocide, The Road From Home, was a Newbery Honor book, among other awards and prizes, and was nominated for the American Book Award. Kherdian’s forthcoming book is titled, Gatherings: From the Selected Writings of David Kherdian.

 

 

 

The Lyre

Dorianne Laux

 

They say Nero fiddled while Rome burned, though
 of course there were no fiddles, and the violin
was still curled like a secret inside the trees, waiting to be
cesareaned by Amati, carved from ebony, maple and spruce,
the most famous and oldest among them, the most
pristine, being “Le Messie” or the “Salabue”
made by Antonio Stradivari in 1717, and never used,
hung like a cadaver in the Ashmolean Museum.
 

It was April 20th, 2010 when the oil began pumping
into the Gulf of Mexico.  We watched the news
on our flat screens and ipads.  We watched
ripe beds of kelp wash up on the beige sand,
the gloved hands scrubbing the blackened beaks
of pelicans, that collapsible bird that’s been around
for 30 thousand years.  We watched the last
great buckets of grey shrimp poured and weighed
 

like grain, and the faces of fishermen give way.
We saw the trawlers head out, dragging
their long booms, capturing little acres of oil,
we saw the sheen, like an old silver mirror,
we saw fire on the water– it was so real
we could almost smell the sweet black plumes.
Some of us sang.  Some of us stood racked
with fear.  Most of us went about the business
 

of our day, discussing the price of gas, buying
lottery tickets at the supermarket, a bag of chips. 
Mostly, we didn’t think about it.  Who could? 
Because it was so deep under the water, out of view. 
It’s not like the city itself was burning or even
the forest around the city. Therefore we woke
and worked or looked for work, so many of us
out of work by then, and after work we walked
 

to the park with our children and friends, barbequed
through the long weekend, Memorial Day, the day
we once set aside to commemorate the Union dead
in the Civil War, though now we try not to think of it
as the Civil War because it’s too confusing-
The Greys, The Blues.  Just the war dead in general
was how we took care of that.  If this was the end
of the world as we knew it, we didn’t know it.
 

We were a large country, a country that ran on luck,
and the year had been both unseasonably warm
and unreasonably cool.  We didn’t know
what to do.  But yes, some of us sang.

 

 

Dorianne Laux’s most recent books are The Book of Men and Facts about the Moon (W.W. Norton), recipient of the Oregon Book Award. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry, and Smoke from BOA Editions, as well as Superman: The Chapbook and Dark Charms, both from Red Dragonfly Press.  Her poems have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Romanian, Dutch, Afrikkans and Brazilian Portuguese.  Her selected works, In a Room with a Rag in my Hand, have been translated into Arabic by Camel/Kalima Press, 2009. She teaches poetry at North Carolina State University.

First appeared in Orion Magazine.