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Monday, December 31, 2007

Male Middle Eastern

The smell of freedom
came with peach;
orange-like soap suds
under a low-ceiling
of showering promises.

A small iron-framed window
in the tile wall
into the dark unknown
its handle too wet
for fresh minds to grip.

Faces awashed with the assumed known
flicking mental floaters of
easy experimentation
into endlessness...

It all came to blossom
many seas later;

The specimens of by-products
of time's tests
lined up at my

Some blowing dreams of
fall-like aspirations
into the remaining sunlight,
gripping moments like
dripping chocolate on ice.

And most blew bad mouth breath
into contaminated fish bowls
and observed the fish sink....

Um Ali

There were dreams for a house
scratched on paper …
at odd moments when the corner
of an available room was free
and the light sufficient.

Dreams for a home
while on the run
from dream-killers
and home-destroyers.
Thoughts of reunion
under a roof
when blood mattered
and distance had drawn too long…

Her scratches as emblematic as
sunshine on sunflowers;
groping for a reality
loudly passing away.

Silently scratched on thin scrap paper
supported by thick books of thought
that were very different
filled with skeleton letters that danced to
a homesick tune…

Hiding from the moonlight
under eroding bus stop signs
escaping the end
though it loomed
as close as the following second…

Silently stopping within a sunflower second
as the dream-killers
seize the scratches
rip the paper house to pieces
shredding all dreams of homecoming
shooting the last 'different' thoughts
back into the skulls of snoozing sunflowers
before the sun could
even dream of a horizon…

-Um Ali was an Iraqi communist who was hunted down, detained, tortured and eventually murdered by Saddam’s regime, in the early Eighties. In her run from one hideout to another, escaping Saddams 'gestapo', she dreamed of building a family home.

Friday, November 23, 2007


lost places
lost times
trampled on 
by accessories of strategy 

never thought

never found
never saw

the play fields

children's toys 
the memories 
walks down sun-lit lanes
arms entwined
warmth like freshly-brewed tea
with a golden-brown hint of nostalgia 

lost dreams

and flung into the Tigris

ripped earth as red
as the blood of the
lost years

then dried 
then cracked by tank wheels
wet with more blood 
and then left to rot

lost words
lost glances
lost meanings 
all extricated
stuffed into a khaki 

and thrown into the Euphrates
lost moments 
when tea was passed 
and the earth warm 
under our bodies 
where we sat 


like the sun had suddenly 
gotten the gist of the joke
and shade
like paradise 
had descended into Zawaraa
in an instant of confusion


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Dead House

In the hallows of my soul
the brown birds sing
One tried to build a nest of stone
and broke a wing
The windows of my eyes are shattered
a dead house I stand
and all of God’s sun will not bring in

Too long the ghosts of tomorrow have wandered
through these aging walls
too long
they have made this arid structure
their home

They walk this soul in silence
for them the brown birds sing
hating transition
unlike me
they already know
there will never be spring…

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

And the Ball Rolled into a Baghdad Dumpster…

The children shouted for the game they could lose
and palms were raised
where dust drops dripped
and voices booed.

And it was up to Sami
who just turned ten
to venture into the world of Baghdad trash
to recapture the trophy
for a part-time glory

So he stepped towards the pile of thrills and woes
the smell of the rot remotely touching his toes
an indefinite heap of suffocated shocks,
end-snipped stories, strangled facts, and stifled sorrows…

Tales of beings coming to life from inside the rust
of deformed oil drums,
rumors of things lashing out to cut all those who touch
the twisted trash,
these tugged at his hair and spat into his buzzing ears,
but it couldn’t happen to Sami!

Not with the football team jeering, swearing
and repeating his name…

His eyes peering, heart, almost disappearing, he crouched on the dirt
and extended a tired, somewhat-scratched arm
into the maze of unknown hate…
And he found the round thing, and gripped it!

With all the pride a ten-year old Baghdadi could gather
all the relief that his mother could no longer offer
all the passion that wining a game would promise…a small but such meaningful game!

He turned to the crowd
a tower of pride
the thrill dancing out of his once weary eyes…

And the silence that followed was smiting
the unsaid words in faces around him biting
the children’s tears already streaming
some crying
some screaming…

And Sami eyes went down
to the round
creature in his hands…
her eyes were closed in pain
her lips firmly shut in refrain
and her rotting cheeks almost gone…

so he dropped the head…
and fainted.

Note: This story took place when a number of children were playing football in a Baghdad suburb next to a neglected dumpster that had not been attended to in years.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Day I Lost My Hair

The day I lost my hair
mother had dragged me out to shop

the wait for lulls in incessant crossfire
had not come to a stop
and the children were hungry
for more than just candy

check points where faces
had traces of
trashed deaths
dying answers in stillborn questions
struggling to extract
the last breath of a meaning
for the wait

it was then that the shots hailed
into the skull of a walking doll
and life stopped
right there in the remaining footprints
of the once skipping child

it was right there
that her hair came down
with a thud
on the dirt

And I walked home…
Without my mother
Who was still shopping, not stopping

and I sheared my head
and shred the tresses
into the waiting mirror…

Thikra who was once Iraq's # 1 ballerina still lives in Iraq with her mother. This is what happened when they shot a child at a checkpoint 'by accident' in front of her...