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Friday, December 03, 2004

Ah! Fallujah!

You reek of red...
the military bugles sing in crimson,
and the peasants chant, their song of scorched earth...
The leftists left no leaf unraped;
the rightists, no faces, unravished,
an aura of blood floats over the wounds of your weeping earth
and yet your spirit stands erect…

Ah Fallujah! Mother of the ghost warriors
Still-born in a boot-mutilated masjid…kicking and screaming for another life…to come out untouched…
The skies spit back at your pale perpetrators…
The green has been stolen from your tear-rotting cheeks and flung high from your date palms…
into your fast-drying womb, but its too late…
Your virginity was fractured,
with the cry of the first bird that lost its wings to a false freedom…

Rise…now, and slowly God will seek your fingers…
The sun has risen; it’s his call for you to come back to life…
Rage...again...and again.

Monday, November 22, 2004

When It Happened...

When it happened,
a long time ago,
cheap phone cards meant the world,
and the world was wrapped up in Schiphol;
Phone booths where Easterners' sweat left finger prints on the damaged glass and lingered...
His voice, a restless, sometimes nervous whisper,
questioning his short-term obstacles...small, but looming large, already...
so much like the fluctuations of his sensitive ego...
-'This guy snores, he sleeps on the airport seats...his feet stink!'
-'It's OK. You'll be OK. Just call me before you leave'
-'11 more minutes'...

Aches and time. This summed up his experience.
-'Where is your warm bosom. I cannot cry. They would think I'm not man enough to be alone here.'
No, I guess they won't. They won't know you carried the bloodied limbs of the stone-throwers into their make-shift graves...They won't know you discovered your brother's dried up carcass amidst cyanide fumes...That you escaped the gun shots of rutheless murders after your Palestinian blood...
But you will have my scarf to smell me, and when it's dark and no one can hear you...
You can cry your heart out...For I will be there.

For the first 'love of my life'...

Monday, August 30, 2004


Her lines speak,
her face, a mirror, hardly scratched...
Clouds of questions stream through her lashes and land on the pillow.
The days long gone unroll again in slow laps, around her brow...
Hints of answers spark through her half-closed look....
Age disperses its weariness in peace around her eyes.
The tentacles of intolerance
that once were her fingers,
now outstretched,
groping for another lost answer...
She believes I have it.
But I do not.
And if I did, I would not give it...
for fear that the three stents in her strained arteries...burst...
I am the purity
that you bore and baptized mother,
as clean as your heavenly heels...
as spotless as God can render a human,
and as stained as the devil would try...
For I have been tried...
But the firmament has seen me through.
I lack your serenity,
your solutions...
The mirror of my heart is cracked.
It refracts a myriad shades of your love for me through those long gone days...
And I still love you...

Monday, August 02, 2004

These Dreams

I get these dreams,
of rooms and faces
-the so-called 'Bond of Nightmares' of planes leaving me behind,
and long lost visas.
On the other side, the World has set, the day is gone.
On this side, they burn the Quran,
and praise Jesus, while Jesus cries...

Things unnamed have rooted me here,
sentiments untouched, and thoughts over-protected.
The question looms -Do I really want to be on this side?

What is there to come home to?

My fathers smiles in another room where the ceilings are high and the ocean is nearby...
He holds these purple birds from Paradise, and sends them to flutter in my face...
My sister knees-crossed on the sofa, playing Backgammon with his shadow...
Later, laying rugs of crimson whims down my corridors of dreams...each with a different home-sick pattern...

She resents this side...She already knows...

There is nothing to come home to...

Monday, May 17, 2004

Her Morning Coffee

Washing her coffee-rimmed mug
every morning…7:30,
her thank-you stared back at me
from a pool of stains in the basin.

Every morning,
her spectacles of tireless scrutiny
questioned me,
bribing with a pain
I felt satisfied existed.

Every 7:30
it was a different story
from a book of life,
she never entirely revealed.

They were told with compassion,
with tactless affection
and strained nostalgia
for all the other unwashed coffee mugs...

They dripped of a truth
alien to our world.
Compulsary details would sap the senses out of endless words...

Every morning,
Abu Tariq would heat the water.
By then, I'd finished washing.
The college corridors, cold & damp,
I & the pegion's chicks
on the unattended window sill
sat still to listen...

They smoked out of corrugated lips,
where cigarette ends
set fire to memories...

Charred with despair,
they persevered,
image after image
too out of reach,
for her spectacles to grasp...

Every morning,
she'd sip her coffee
look at me
& love me.

I'd be in them,
tales with disappearing tails...
Like coffee tricklings on moist mugs,
and cigarette butts in tissue-choked ashtrays...

She never smiled,
hardly a twitch of the lips...
Closing the door,
I'd glance behind...
She'd be murmuring to the pegion's chicks
about other morning memories...

This poem was written for Ms. Siba, in 1987. A Palestinian activist, her despondency had overcome her, but she still had hope that someday, there would be a Palestinian State...She knew it would not be in her time...

The smell of wheat-brown bread...

The smell of her,

I'd sniff

into and out of her,

as I would kiss her furrowed forehead.

The Images Triggered :

A small kitchenette,

and vegetable patch in front,

a small gas stove,

and bare brown shelves,

a tiny corridor,

as ample as the life she lead,

and memories mingled,

with the dust of the books stacked,

all around...

then out of nowhere, a Gustave Dore',

hanging somewhere above the staircase,

in it, a wide-eyed monkey,

staring at the slow-moving world underneath,

staring at her charcoal head,

revolving around

what should have been,

but never was...

Ms. Siba Al-Fahoum was a Palestinian professor who lived for the Palestinian cause, and died heart-broken with the way things have come to pass...She was brilliant, dedicated and passionate. At one time, a very close friend of the late Ghassan Kanafani -she was the last member of staff (at their small journal in Beirut) to bid him goodnight, before the morning after, when he was torn to bits in an Israeli-implanted car bomb in his garage. She was at one time, Abu-Amar's personal translator, but turned away, when her disappointment with his handling of the cause surmounted her frustration. She lived and died alone. She was as great as God could make a human.

Monday, May 10, 2004

My Father

He lies there waiting for my arrival
for me to bestow the farewell wishes on his tombstone before he ascends
And I can't
the bombs disturb his tired ears
and the dust clogs his tear ducts
And still he his grave
Up there in the sunshine,
there's a shadow that he craves...
his spirit blinks...
Was that my silhoutte? Am I finally here?
What has taken me so long?
A million times the trees play tricks
His blurred vision struggles with the leaves
Yet he cannot sense my smell or existance
because I am not there
Someday soon, when the bombs cease and the land is quiet
Someday soon I will come to say a prayer over his glorious head
and kiss the stone...
Farewell, now fly!
You don't have to wait for the last of your children to finally say Good-bye.

Since my father's passing away, I have not been able to return to Iraq, my home country to visit my father's grave.

Friday, April 02, 2004

The Salt Shaker

The Salt Shaker

The salt shaker in the illustration,
red and small,
Just the right pinches of shadows…
Who drew it?
Picked it up from a meal table and put it on the page?
Who redrew it?
Captured the salt as their own and digitalized it?
The salt shaker
a small symbol of taste
the embodiment of the love shared and passed around on the original artist’s table,
a mild moment caught and refracted
into a million flying fractions
landing on a white page...
For the normal eye,
another icon.
For those who can savor
all the salt they will pass for the length of their lives…

The emotions a small icon on a diet planner inspired...

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Mid-Summer Night's African Dream

Shanaz where are you?
And where has Africa gone?
Down the Indian ocean highway
On a runaway motorcycle
Singing songs of Jesus Christ, Super Star

Your spectacles were respectable
My father admired your mind
And you did well unto him

Where have the sail boats gone?
They no longer sing to the ocean liner at the pier
No more Kitanges fly in the wind
And no more African hair braids shine
Underneath the Dar-es-Salaam moon….

There was a forgotten Indian song, Shanaz
It had floated above the drive-in movie theater walls
And caught onto the trains of a suspended sari from one
Of the cars
And disappeared

Where are you?

'Shanaz' was the Administrative Assistant, at the Iraqi Embassy in an East African country, in the late 70s. She was of a member of a large Indian community that lived there, then.

Sunday, January 11, 2004


First, there was the 1st war,

and at the fronts,

Asmaa's uncle was slaughtered.

And, P. O. W. s were dragged through the mud,

tied to trucks...

Asmaa cried on the backyard bench,

at Baghdad High.

Then, Namu died.

Dragged himself in

with a bubble for an eye,

and a skin flap for a hind leg.

And Tamraa tried hard,

to understand why I cried

so hard ...

I’d screamed at the front gate guard,

“shoot him!”

But mercy was not available,

during the war

- not even at the fronts,

euthanasia; extinct.

It was easier with the P.O.Ws

(no one heard you at the fronts).

Ahmed had screamed and shut the bathroom door,

in the remains of Namu’s face.

And in the morning,

Mother cried.

At the stove, her bitter coffee

turned to salt.

And Dad smiled in sadness…

But soon, the trucks on TV,

tore off

the POWs arms!

So, soon,

too soon,

they all forgot about Namu....

In memory of Namu, my cat, who died during, the Iran-Iraq War.


You drain the words out of my famished mouth
when you scream,
a sun-drenched cry of dripping dates and palm-green nostalgia.
You, a thought in the womb before birth,
and all the lines of crimson of afterlife...
You, a bosom of Tigris-scented compassion,
thrown across a desert of aimless caravans.
You, a wan wanderer, in the pages of my history...
Did you know that your rains washed away my name,
minutes before baptism?
And tattooed tomorrow's memories for eternity...
But then, you turned your face east...
away from me...
Do you recognize me? ...
I am the homeless child that seeks your amputated arms for refuge,
a beggar of identity amidst your grains of blood-drenched sands.
Why have you lost me
when I had hung on to the trains of your abbai,
through all the wars,
all the sores...?
Left my minarets of war-torn memories to crumble into oblivion...
my faith in humankind disemboweled.
You are the truth
-if it ever existed,
belief, when it is all I know.
I know you now
like I know God.
For you are the entity they forbade,
the remnants of the game they played,
the devastated I...

For my beloved Iraq...

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Last- minute Cravings

Last- minute Cravings

His clasp tight on my leather shoulder
as he consoled me on the death of Jabra
Like him, he had smelt of sunlight
on wet pavements.
Later, he had smelt of cheddar cheese
as I’d stooped to kiss his cheek.
His clasp was now
Frail and yellow.
High and away
His constellation had expired
Yet, he was still craving lemon ice-cream
And, Leena was always going to ‘Frosty’s’ to get some.
He craved:
cartoons, multi-media software,
and coffee.
But most of all
he craved life & her
Within his retrieved memory
he had tried to reinstall her smile when the sun
was out.
She had loved and cherished
till death did
its part....
Sometimes, when she savors Cheddar cheese
and lemon ice-cream, quietly...
some days, when she sips her bitter coffee,
and watches cartoon with the children,
She dies silently......

In memory of Dr. Bashir Al-Issa, a Palestinian scholar, who died of lung cancer.

An Afternoon Chat in His Office

An Afternoon Chat in His Office

We tackled the ‘Concept of Death’
while Death squatted on his shoulders,
played with what was left of his hair,
and gazed at me as a likely prospect.
Dark clouds would pass, behind him
when Death would block out the sun,
and still we spoke of sunrise.
I was preaching
the Rules of Thumb
for the game of ‘going’
and all the while,
I was fingerless.....
‘Rage, Rage, against the dying of the light’
When on the way home, their home,
no lighted windows looked out,
of the black night.
I had thought
God would make an exception
And he had thought so too
or tried to...
leafing through my poetry, wondering
if he would be the next elegy.
I was pleading that he hang on
when all I wanted to do,
was let go
finding reason in Leena’s face
and three curious daughters
when Reason had set, with the light
had gone
‘gentle into that good night’

In memory of Dr. Bashir.

And after they brought in

coffin no.11,

I stopped carrying ants off the wet basin,

into tile cracks.

-not unless their antennas screamed for help.

I couldn't carry ants!

My shoulders would shiver

-though they were really lighter than coffins...

I wish I could've carried all those khaki limbs

out of those blood baths

into some haven in time's endless crevices,

but God never let me.

Did the job himself.

He's good at that...

I'm only good at drowning ants with excessive tears

then watching them slide down the basin

to lift them out with shivering shoulders

back into tile cracks...

In memory of the unknown soldier.



At night when in peace with God's words
the ones that I will to read for you
you come
your spectacles reflect a yearning
I know I have to wait for you in slumber
For there you can talk at your dear heart's ease
You smile, like you would when you need me to smile too
You say nothing...
That is until yesterday...
I have brought you these my dear...
I choose not to think...
I cannot fathom...
I dare not cry again...
After so so long...
Have the years slipped past so fluidly...
We talk, I and the rest who work hard at not remembering you...
I wonder if they know my struggle...tear at their dreams for a pinch of reality that maybe, just might be visiting...
For real...

In memory of my beloved father.
Remembering You

And so begins the coffee process
I stare…
Another blank paper goes by…
Scribbles of memory enlighten the drab outlook.
You arrive,
And suddenly, you lie…there underneath the earth, without your glasses, without your smile, without the light in your eyes,
Without anything
Are you here as I remember? As I relive your presence, relive your words and wish them back?
I want to be where you are…
Now the other side…is no longer foreign….

In memory of my beloved father.
Missing You

Saying your name is like calling God
Your eyes call back, a sad old song in them
and yet they smile
I realize it is only the wall paper on my screen…
I think the energy in my computer stems…from where you lie in the earth…far away
Your hands are soft and wise in the picture…they will always be
Even God will feel it when he welcomes you to heaven…
You are wearing your favorite blue shirt…when will you put it on again? Mother did not have the heart to give it away…
Your lips curl like the surf on the sea and they hide an ocean of emotions…
Longing, loving and missing…Now I surf that sea alone…
You left because you felt it was time…you had come to see us all together for once, at last…and then you just closed your eyes and slept forever
….so it will never be the same again…Together will be without you, forever…
What did you think when you saw us go, one by one…What could you not say? Did I hinder you?
I was just trying to stop your tears and plant some hope….little did I know that your earth was drying up inside…and that you had given in to winter…
I read the Koran for you…when I can…I still have a lot to cover…
I read the same sura for you, every night, three times so that your spirit may be blessed, in heaven, on earth or wherever you are….I say it, close my eyes and will it to you.
I know my soul is not void of impurities….but I know God will listen because he is merciful…
I see you in my dreams and there we will meet, when you want to…
I will call your name and God will answer with a message and
Your image….

In memory of my beloved father.
An Urge

An urge to trace your words in ivory memories
An urge to touch the age spots on your fingers and kiss them
An urge to talk to your eyes and wipe the slow tears from under the glasses
An urge to tug your spirit home…here…

An urge to tell you I love you…
An urge to let you know that I know, nobody loves me as much as you do…
An urge to ask your mind all that I will need to know tomorrow…because I couldn’t remember to ask yesterday…
An urge to turn my face to your serene forehead…no matter where it lies…
An urge to capture your grin and let it lull my heart to a warm amnesia….

An urge to hold you….transplant my veins in your arms and let them…hold me..
An urge to sit where you had kept the seat warm…breathe the fragrance of your tobacco and wear it forever…

An urge to break bread again…pass the morning toast and watch your lips as they feed…
An urge to tell you that your tea is the best…your thoughts are my bible…and your deeds my Koran….

An urge to hear your voice over the lines of oblivion…and make believe the lines are dead…and not you…
An urge to let you know…and know that you will know…that you are the reason I awake in the morning….
An urge to lay my head on your heart and only awake where I can feel the throb of your life…eternally…

In memory of my beloved father.

Father, Again


I wish I could sit with you….somewhere in heaven
On wicker chairs, brown and silent
And stare at a serene sunrise quietly….

I wish I could put my finger tips on your arm
My head on your heart and breath in a new morning with you
Somewhere else…away from this world

I wish I could pause forever
Not think, not dream
Just feel your presence
Smile and rest eternally, like you…

And all this time we would be looking at the sunrise
Without a word
For I would look at you
And you would look back
And we would know
Without much said
That I had finally come home…

In memory of my beloved father.