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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.