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.

 

 

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.

 

 

My Father’s Garden

Marian Haddad

 

is full of weeds now –
I am okay with that – as a matter of fact –
I am stunned by their grace – their appearance since
May – I came to say Sabah il khayr –
 

to kiss the forehead of a father
one late Sunday morning – and they
took me
by surprise – and me gasping . . .
deep –  almost smiling . . . standing there,
by the bay
window bringing in
droves of light . . .
 

There they were –
what we call weeds –
but they were florid and high
in their stance . . . and the richest,
green – little yellow buds peeking
their heads . . . between what seemed
fields of gathering
fern . . . I was amazed
at the fecundity of forms . . .
of grass
of bright yellow
happenings. Our field
was near-covered
with them.
 

My father walked in to see
what all my great commotion
was about – he smiled, shyly,
almost ashamed . . . and said,
 

Badnah nik’lah-on –
“We need to pull them out.”
 

The man he was would never have
allowed such rampant things –
But I said, “No, Baba!”  “These
are beautiful.”  He looked and tried to see,
and I think he may have agreed
after the looking –
 

Two, maybe three feet of feathery
growth – and what seems a field
of small wild flowers
at the tips of stems . . . bright –
the color of sun –
and just enough space
between them
for wind to play
and breezes to sway
stems  . . . perhaps
 

his field has been
so dry for so long –
that they remind me
of his kept garden
that curled around our house
 

The grass was always there
and watered – as if we
expected it to be –
us running
through our busy days –
I assume we never thought
of how it stayed – Father
watering, placing the hose,
curled like a gardensnake
among grass – perhaps
that is why our lawn
was never as evenly colored
as the neighbors’ yards –
 

he would shift – after so long,
the placement of the coiled hose
to dryer spots, rotate,
every so often, the fielding
of water –
 

and so, naturally,
there were some yellow
spots and tufts of grass
that water
did not reach.  But there was always
 

grass . . . and the bricks and rocks
he’d use to build low circles around the trees
he’d plant – we saw them bud and grow –
yield his proud fruit – always asking the guests
if they’d like to see
the garden,
explaining proudly,
pointing each one out . . . and the naming began:
 

–          apricot, fig, plum

–          mish-mosh, teen, khokhh
 

and the grapevines that crawled
along the stone
fence – so high, grapeleaves covered
the wall – and the grapes, hanging heavy
in their descending bodies
along the periphery
of our place –
 

and then
the daly  – the place he built
with chicken-wire and wood –
holding the vines up –
 

training them
to grow
this way . . . or that . . .
 

it was what others might call
a coop . . . we’d enter this large
sub-garden through a fence that unlatched –
chicken-wire high above us
and all around
to keep
the birds out  – to protect
the grapes – not pecked at

Father would walk slowly
amid the daly, raise his arms high up
to pick the pickable ones –
 

And I’d follow him
and put them in
a deep, long tray
until it was full –

arms heavy with fruit
and overflowing . . .
 

Picking grapes
in my father’s proud yard.

 

* first published on Rawi Website, and appears in the latest collection of Marian Haddad’s, WILDFLOWER. STONE. (Pecan Grove Press 2011) . . . to order an autographed copy, contact Marian Haddad at haddadmarian@aol.com

 

for author’s complete bio please see additional works in the SPRING ISSUE.  Haddad’s full bio may also be viewed on her “Author’s Page.”

For Naomi Shihab Nye

Marian Haddad

Granddaughter
of Sitti Khadra,
I did not know you
until I picked
your book off a shelf
over fifteen years ago. 
 

It’s there I first read
about your yellow glove,
a red suitcase, your Uncle
Mohammad and the broom-
maker in Palestine,
the way you made it seem
he was a master
of this one lost art,

 

how he woke up
and began to weave
the seam around the straw,
stitched it into place,
taking such care,
as if it were something
his own wife would wear.
 

The way I saw your name
and it rang clear,
 something in it meant
you were quite like me. 
 

A name—how we relate
to people from our lands,
though I still
have mine, but you
do not
have yours. 
Syria is still
on the map,
and last month
it resonated loud
and clear, your Palestine
has been
erased
from the map
on my friend’s
wall.
 

For some reason, it was then,
I began to study
where every country lay,
and something in me sought
the places of my race,
 

and I began to see
the space between
Syria and Lebanon,
and how it was O.K.—
the separate countries
that they made,
allowed the other
to exist;

 

 I looked for Jordan,
Yemen, The United
Arab Emirates. 
Morocco and El Jazayer,
Berber countries first,
how they embraced
the same language
our grandfathers
spoke, but they, still
able to keep
their own identities.

 

I saw Israel
and thought,
Our neighbors, a part of us,
our space.  A cup of sugar please.
 

And for a moment I forgot
a strange happening.  I began to look
and look for one
country
I once had to name
on an old map.
 

My eye began to scan
the crevices in-between,
and a panic began
to stir somehow
inside the brain.

 

Unable to find
this one lost patch
of land, what color
was it then?
 

And the next second
it came to me.  The way
it’s been erased.

 

Oh, yes.  I cannot even place
my finger atop
it’s geographical brow,
the hump it might have made
under a braille hand
on the raised surface
of a sky blue globe.
 

It then made strange sense
to me, why I couldn’t find it
between it’s cluster
of neighboring spots.
 

I was appalled to think
someone had buried it
while I wasn’t looking
straight, and that I didn’t go
to this one funeral
they must have had
somewhere
to mourn their dead.

 

We hear so often
on the news, a story
somehow far away,
and we
forget to place
this one reality
in our own
dark book,

 

until something wakes us
into shock, and me pointing
my fleshy finger
on a land I once knew
existed there, cancelled
out.  What about Sandy,
and Paul, my brother’s friend,
his father’s father came
from there, her grandfather left it
for L.A., and now,
there is no finding it
again.  The place from which
they stemmed
has blown up, city
of smoke, and the houses
they once villaged in,
 

playing the nigh and the durbuk,
villages where weddings took,
and church bells rang,
or the call to prayer
in a mosque,
 

the children
playing with sticks
in thin alleys
between houses,
the women
baking the sej
and picking mint
out of
their own
small yards.

 

* first published in SCHERHERAZADE’S LEGACY, Ed. Susan Muaddi Darraj 
and RADIO TAHRIR via Barbara Nimri Aziz.

 

Marian Haddad, MFA is a Pushcart-nominated poet, writer, manuscript and publishing consultant, private writing mentor, visiting writer, lecturer and creative workshop instructor.  Her collection of poems, Wildflower. Stone., (Pecan Grove Press, 2011), is the press’s first hardback. Yusef Komunyakaa states that this collection, “…celebrates the observable mysteries of daily existence … these poems have dropped all disguises, and each rides the pure joy of music.  There are superb leaps and silences that deftly highlight the monumental in simple things.” 

Haddad’s chapbook, Saturn Falling Down, was published in (2003). Her full-length collection, Somewhere between Mexico and a River Called Home (Pecan Grove Press, 2004) approaches its fifth printing. Her poems, essays, reviews, and articles have been published in various literary journals and anthologies within the United States and Belgium and have been invited for publication in the Middle East. 

Haddad has taught creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake and Northwest Vista College, and International Literature and American Literature at St. Mary’s University.  Her works in progress include a collection of essays about growing up Arab American in a Mexican American border town.  She writes a blog for the San Antonio Express News

 

 

Correction Jounieh, Lebanon

Marian Haddad

 

Actually, nobody was screaming.
Not that I saw.        I saw the boy,
 
quiet bird, shaking, eyes wide
open. And next to him, the old.
 
One is three. The other, eighty-three,
or more. The older man sits, coiled
 
on a mattress, wheezing into
a mask. Wheezing into          
 
himself. The heavy breath,
weighty in its travel
 
to the lungs and from them. 
Thin, frail, white-haired man.
 
His wife stands, quiet, up against
a wall.  She does not speak
but stares straight         at him, and he
is bent over his thin and folded body,
this body, heavy with his breathing.            
She           is not crying,               she      
 
is not moving.  A stone could not lie         
this still. Fear closes the mouth.      
 
Nobody is speaking. The boy. The man.
His wife.                   But behind them
the chorus of chaos –
people bringing in bodies –
And outside the flames.

 

please see Marian Haddad’s full biographical information in her additional works in the SPRING ISSUE, and on her Author’s page.

* first published in Bat City Review