He was as calm as his family wanted,
managing a laugh each day of his life
and washing the traces away
with soap and water
His mouth was poor:
He kissed only his mother’s forehead
and the mausoleum
where they went to cry
His lips were also pure,
dark with bitter talk and cheap cigarettes
His tongue was fresh
and he reminded God—in a gentle reproach,
as God would speak to us—
“Go when Creation is complete
Come at Death”
His tongue was wet
He hadn’t caused the city’s air to stiffen
or fed a single bird
to win its kiss—
he even forgot he had teeth!
They bred in his mouth’s heart,
paining him when he had to nibble
the dark flesh of an old apple
His teeth fell out like family members—
in the midst of all this joy,
how could he remember the dates of their deaths?
ABBOUD ALJABIRI is a poet and translator who was born in Najaf, Iraq in 1963. He emigrated to Jordan in 1993, where he remains today. He has published more than five books.
JEFFREY CLAPP’S poems, stories and translations have appeared in Samovar, North American Review, Blue Unicorn, Dalhousie Review, Arkansas Review, Sycamore Review, and many others. He is a past recipient of the Daniel Morin Poetry Prize at UNH and the Indiana Fiction Prize from Purdue. His work has been anthologized in Best of Blueline and Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America. He currently lives in South Portland, ME USA.
MUNTATHER ALSAWAD studied poetry and criticism in his home country of Iraq, where he taught both college and primary school. He has published poetry and criticism in Arabic, as well as translations from the Arabic into English. A native of Basra, he now lives in the cooler climate of Portland, Maine, where he works at the Portland Museum of Art.
GULIZ MUTLU (1978, Turkey) is a visual artist, classicist, hispanist and museologist. She has a masters degree on the Homeric Family and a PhD on the Peloponnesian War and Euripides from the University of Ankara, Turkey, as well as a post-doctorate degree on Romanticism and Tenebrismo from Pompeu Fabra University, Spain. As a francophone, she is the author of Les Paroles Saphiques (Les Éditions Apopsix, France, 2011). She has been awarded the Prix Renée Vivien (L’Académie Renée Vivien), Grand Prix de L’Écriture Poétique Francophone (La Société des Poètes et Artistes de France), Prix Jean Aicard (Les Amis de Jean Aicard), Prix de la Flore (L’organisatiın Sauvons la Luzerne) and the UNESCO Nosside World Poetry Mention Prize. Her English haikus have been published by The Mainichi, Modern Haiku, Frogpond Journal, The Heron’s Nest, and Presence.