Poem of the Month

The poet’s memories of war wear him down 

 

 

He stands isolated

in a dancehall packed with laughing strangers

and, like last time, like all the times,

holds himself tight against what might

happen, but never does, never shows its face.

 

Drums beat the earth under him

brass horns pulse against his chest

her body is hot and fluid, a river

of music pumps thoughtless pleasure through him,

she is the liquid hot forgetting of

vodka he sweats out soaking his clothes,

he drinks her deeply.

 

But in the vacuum between songs

he remembers the children, God! what

has been done to the children!

It lacerates his breast, sears his brain,

old bombs explode, ripping his guts,

there is nowhere to go, nowhere.

 

Nowhere in the press of panting bodies

to sop up the memories,

put pressure against the bleeding, he

reaches for her, the strand of life he tangles into,

his hand lands on the close shore

of her cool running river, she stops,

has seen the flash

of fire rockets in his eyes.

                              

They are stranded, lost together for

an endless moment, silent, suspended,

music returns in soothing waves,

singing the moon, he dives into her

pleasure of mindless movement,

collateral cries and moans of war float into silence again,

he is free once more for another interlude.

Sharon Lopez Mooney, The poet's memories of war wear him down, featured in "Visible" Magazine, online, ed. Stephanie Drenka, May 26, 2021, Dallas, Texas,  https://visiblemagazine.com/chasing-the-trail-of-endings/

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Copulation in English, by Mohja Kahf

We are going to dip English backward
by its Shakespearean tresses
arcing its spine like a crescent
We are going to rewrite English in Arabic

 

and all the languages of our blood
We are going to give English the makeover of its lifetime,
darkening the rims of its eyes with Hindi antimony,
making it blush Farsi roses

 

We are going to make English dizzy
until English vomits its history,
Norman, Saxon, Celtic, down
to its Druid dregs
We won't stop playing with English
We are the new bullies in the schoolyard
and we like the merry-go-round of nouns and adjectives
and onomatopoetics and objective correlatives

 

We will bewilder English in the Aramaic of Jesus
Elohim, elohim—

 

We know its biblical heart better than it knows itself
and hold the blades of these lilies of the valley
against its jugular vein

We are going to make English love us
and kiss us and explore us with its tongues
Then we will play hard to get
and English will have to phone
and leave message after message of desire on our machines
English will have to learn what to say to please us:

 

English has never tasted anything this purple,
seen mangoes this bursting, trickling down its poems,
pomegranates spraying the tart red seeds
over its stories like white linen
English has never smelled cardamom this ecstatic
or breathed rhetoric this thick with love

 

English will come to us hoarse with the passion
we will have taught English to have
and English will never be the same and will never regret us
Although, after this night of intense copulation,

we may slaughter English in its bed and redeem our honor,
even while pregnant with English's bastard

Mohja Kahf

 

Poet and scholar Mohja Kahf was born in Damascus, Syria. Her family moved to the United States in 1971, and Kahf grew up in the Midwest. She earned a PhD in comparative literature from Rutgers University and is the author of the poetry collections Hagar Poems (2016) and Emails from Scheherazad (2003) and the novel The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf (2006).
 
Kahf’s experiences growing up in the United States shaped her perceptions of the differences and similarities between the cultures of her home and adopted countries. Her poetry is an amalgam of both Syrian and American influences; Lisa Suhair Majaj commented in ArteNews that Kahf’s work “draws on American colloquialisms and Quranic suras; it is informed not only by American free verse … but also by a lush energy that draws on the heart of the Arabic oral tradition and Arabic poetry.” 

Sharon Lopez Mooney, published poet, Interfaith Minister, spiritual coach

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