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Dying from a different kind of arid                 



He leans against winter shadows

with such great sorrow, longing

to conjure her, as a magician might

drink sacred water before a birth.

Cupping a cigarette like men in war do

he inhales, feeling his fear will burn

right through him.

Outside an occasional car passes in the rain

wet whipping sound on the street.


He flips the remote, shutting the tv off.

Our silence bangs against the heater

he draws the blinds partly closed,

says he longs to bring Jerusalem here,

heart of his, held captive when

they banished him, forbade return.

Now he is changing, this desert warrior is dying.

His heels still stick out bare

from shoes worn as a desert man does

no socks in winter, backs forced flat,


My hands find his fragile chest,

he is tumbling within shifting sands

changing his entire world.

He is glad I do not believe his fear,

remembering he asked me to be his faith

while he is lost in eternally damnable dark.

Reaching out, he touches my face

blowing smoke over his shoulder as a desert man does

and feeds me humus on Palestinian bread.

Jerusalem was more than home

she was his lover, his self

everything he did, every battle

he waged every line he wrote ,

was for her, his beloved. His soul still nests

in the crotch of that sacred city.

He can feel her dying, she needs him

but he cannot go back, and inhales his own dying,

he no longer can imagine returning home.


He sits back and cries.

A siren grows louder, screams past the windows

fades into the fog. He lays his hand

on my shoulder as a desert man might.

At three a.m. the concrete city outside is quiet.




Sharon Lopez Mooney, “Dying from a different kind of arid”, from Unlikely Stories Mark V, Issue September 11, ed. Jonathan Penton, Louisiana, 2021,

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