Dreaming America by Sam Hamod (lst draft)

Dreaming America     9.15.15   © sam hamod  lst draft


Where it was once

This dream of a dream,

This place of dreams,

Where it seemed

Money grew on trees, where

You came to send money home

To those poor left behind, their dreams

In your pockets,  that you used

On each day, each week

And sometimes, each month of

The long voyage, on deck in sweltering sun,

No water, no food, just more cargo, not human,

Not sure of what we were after the fevers set in,

Blistering heat, and a language we

Couldn’t understand, it wasn’t Greek, it wasn’t

Arabic, it wasn’t Italian, it wasn’t Farsi, it

Was an odd language, almost like some Germans

We’d met during their field work, studying

Our Roman ruins, but it wasn’t’ clear,

And we knew it wasn’t French, even the Christians

On board, who  knew French, knew it wasn’t French,

They yelled at us, the waves cooled us off but

Ship rocking  back and forth, up and down, now

Huge waves washed some  overboard, others yelling

To hold on, to hold on to them to keep them from washing

Overboard—but we held on, held on, sweated,  felt the salt water sting,

But we held on, held on, held on into nightmares and dreams

Of home, of the fields, the quiet, the goats and sheep,

And our mothers, sisters, brothers and fathers

Waiting for us, at the table, praying

Knowing we would rescue them, but as for us,

We needed someone to rescue us

And we hadn’t even gotten to that new land yet


© sam hamod, 9.15.15 Section I   lst draft


Section II


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
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
because in this life
there are some things we never fully close



photo by Kristen Scott


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