The bomb that fell flattened his world, And drew corridors of fire That led everywhere and nowhere, Toward a future that kept hanging.
The tearless silence was floating, Dressed with silk black cap, As faith was rewriting the lists For new havens.
His eyes were closed, but it was bright inside, He remembered the taste of chocolate And how he ran up and down the hills Over the desert.
He will soon hear the others, Crawling like him, on their canes of hope, Their skills got sharper every time.
He’ll join them in the quest for Their food for tomorrow: Wild mushrooms and rabbits. Sometimes they will go by the airfield, Wondering loud where the storks were, And why was their place taken by uniformed men.
He felt his body burning, Heard shouting, faint, then rising, He smelled his father pomade and felt the clutching of his arms. He was tired of running in a race that had no stopwatch, Besides he already won, Of all the things, this war has never been able to embargo his dreams.
This is a poem I have written few years ago. Like everything I write( like everything that we writers write), there is a story behind it. Back then I was doing field work in Jordan about war refugees, and I was spending time listening to Syrian war refugees recounting their stories. Some of them had their children around when I was taking their interview. I was struck, I knew war from far away but this was a first account, as close as I could get. I would finish the interviews, and then I’d go transcribe and I would feel these people, and their pain even more than I didn’t before. Their faces would come to mind. This poem is about one of those faces.
Image by John Samuel, Library of Congress (Source: JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post)
Shadows of souls carried by wings Embarked to paint visions of stories told and untold. A dozen missions have now been declared, In a quest to make the world safe.
A Bird’s eye view flight Carries the souls who take notes on symbolistic frontiers. They tap in sights from above Unsure yet hopeful That the “differences” they weave intense on their maps Will debunk old narratives and bring restauration of unity to the people.
A water wagon Carries the ones who feel the mist in their hearts. Between the ground down below And the clouds that swell, They’re on a quest to fertilize the seeds of existence. They tend to the youthfulness of flowers and to all other species, And in in synchronous voice, they glorify nature.
Some are in a quest to build a world without taxes, Because not everything is for sale. They fly to declare independence From all agencies that monetize the souls of human beings.
Two lovers and few others, Carry with them the rebirth of wonder. Their spirts, filled with light, Are a proof that the love in our hearts can never be muted.
Some souls are still stuck in the Age of Anxiety They’ve tried take flight, But they drop, pulled down by the weight of their fears. They too will be safe, As the others will not hit the ground, Until their stories are heard, Until the hope in a better, safer world is restored.
I would like to continue, until it ends, Everything ends, doesn’t it? Or maybe it doesn’t….. Some physicist says that there is no such thing as the past and future, And that the order of time is not a one-way street.
I try to believe him, but I cannot devoid myself of the trace of temporality, And strangely enough, it doesn’t bother me. My silent thoughts summon and acknowledge past memories, And piece by piece, each memory is filled with love, fear, desire or passion.
From my smallness I see the footprints of our humanity, It’s not silent and aimless, It makes me smile watching how we are all striving and longing to get what we desperately want, And I can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
We don’t suffer from a tragic misconception of time, We take what we understand and we strive to understand more. We have time. Everything that doesn’t work will work one day, And I would like to continue.
Another time, same wind gusts are witness, to a world of ever changing, uncharted sands of red and tan. No tribal conflicts are troubling this place, The hammer of the modern world has already been cast.
I hear the music of the shifting dunes Chanting to worlds that have been here long before the present, With a faint hum, low throated, drum like sealing sound.
Glowing under the moon, the lights of a thousand stars hanging from the sky, Drench the desert like whiffs of wisdom. I know, That I have lived my entire life in the company of them, Kneeling together to the same universe, Feeling the life force.
Some girls wear different hats, Mine is to thread the beads of civilization into the eternal loop, and prove that that nothing disappears into the unknown. I have been searching to make the Atlantis of the Sands real, To find the lost city that was forgotten for thousands of years. I keep planning my route, And this is certainly the most spectacular adventure of my life.
My feet are aching, for days I’ve been begging for new feet, new arms, stoic in my quest that I hope to carry through the next day and on.
Tonight, I feel so thirsty, Drinking water from my canteen, barefoot, I see my crew stretching, The feeble sounds of their hymn sung in unison Express visions of life that undulate across miles of silent sand. “We’ll go at first light”, says the main porter, I nod, Knowing that the greatest honor bestowed upon us humans is survival. Tomorrow is another day, Neither bound nor free, we will keep walking.
We’re a band of loyal warriors fighting to assemble the puzzle that reveals the truth: The past, the present, and the future are all connected, We don’t own time, but we do own our history.
I believe in us, Nothing is dust in the wind And our songs will not fade mute. Ancient flames of light flicker inside us, Giving us purpose, We will dive and emerge from the sea currents of time, And trace past and present trails of human survival and civilization.
My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.
Because you’re here and you have read it, I’d like to tell you the story behind it. There are actually two stories, one is that of Gertude Bell and the other of a lost city.
I’ve written about Gertude Bell before. There is little written about her, but she was remarkable woman who left traces in our history. She was a misfit, one that naturally went against the stereotyped woman of the early twentieth century. She was born in England, in 1868, into a wealthy family. Her mother died while when Gertrude was seven years old.She studied at Oxford. In fact, was the first woman to graduate in Modern History at Oxford. A lot of records list her as an archeologist or as a writer, but for me the accent should be put on her travels, on her quest to uncover unknown paths and on her cultural and political power in the Middle East. Her desert odyssey started in 1900 and she travelled across the Arabian desert many times. Many people thought of her as a specie of lunatic British explorer. I think the fact that they underestimated her was her lucky charm.
Her knowledge helped the European powers decide how to carve Arabia after the war. There is a movie made about her and her travels: “Queen of the desert”.
Under the cover of archaeological research, she traveled to Hail, to assess the Rashids, a historic Arabian House who were the most formidable enemies of the House of Saud. I don’t know what she saw or what she said but we all know that Ibn Saud was the one that became the founder of Saudi Arabia. Many say that Gertrude was a spy. I don’t know how I feel about this, I guess if you’re not there, you don’t know the reasons, or if you didn’t read enough, you should not speak. So, I will not speak. I want to highlight her courage rather than the political games. She was also involved and played a big role in the creation of Iraq, she played the role of mediator between the Arab government and British officials and later on she played an important part in the administration of Iraq.
So this is Gertrude’s story. Now, the Gertrude in my poem, it’s a combination between the way I see the real Gertrude and myself. I guess I must have some Indiana Jones DNA because I too, love adventure and I am fascinated by these things.
The second story behind this poem is the one of a lost city of Ubar, or the so called The Atlantis of the Sands. The quest to find this city started early on, in 1930. But it wasn’t until 1992 that they actually found something, that might be remnants of this city. Here is what they said about it :
“In February 1992, The New York Times announced a major archaeological discovery in the following terms: “Guided by ancient maps and sharp-eyed surveys from space, archaeologists and explorers have discovered a lost city deep in the sands of Arabia, and they are virtually sure it is Ubar. When news of this discovery spread quickly around the newspapers of the world, there seemed few people willing or able to challenge the dramatic findings, apart from the Saudi Arabian press. The discovery was the result of the work of a team of archaeologists led by Nicholas Clapp, which had visited and excavated the site of a Bedouin well at Shisr (18° 15′ 47 N” 53° 39′ 28″ E) in Dhofar province, Oman. The conclusion they reached, based on site excavations and an inspection of satellite photographs, was that this was the site of Ubar, or Iram of the Pillars, a name found in the Quran which may be a lost city, a tribe or an area.” A contemporary notice at the entrance to an archaeological site at Shisr in the province of Dhofar, Oman, proclaims: “Welcome to Ubar, the Lost City of Bedouin Legend”.However, scholars are divided over whether this really is the site of a legendary lost city of the sands.
“A contemporary notice at the entrance to an archaeological site at Shisr in the province of Dhofar, Oman, proclaims: “Welcome to Ubar, the Lost City of Bedouin Legend”.However, scholars are divided over whether this really is the site of a legendary lost city of the sands.” Source: Wikipedia
I think it is an interesting story, and there are a lot of resources on the web where you could read more about it.
Walking through the New York Times Square, I’m utterly in touch with the drama of this space. A curious dog from a small balcony Is barking to the crowds that have morphed into ghosts And now sit around in circles to listen to the beat of spectral drums.
Their fine-tuned acoustics send bass notes of “‘bang” Every time another human has reached the entrance of the bridge to heaven. I pass them, still their music rumbling through my soul In my way to the stump of the Three of Hope. I’m going to rub its surface asking that a mother will go back to her children, Asking that the daughter whom I had to zoom last night will see her father again, Asking for a new choreography in my ward, That would replace the sad with happy endings.
I walk, thoughts flood my mind, I feel alone ….I don’t want to be alone. How can I cross from socially distance to socially intimate? I stop thinking about physical nearness as the image of the ghosts gathered to listen to the drum’s concert sends shivers through my spine. I think about the stump of the Three of Hope and speed up my steps, If I could only save that mother for her children, If only that father would go back home to his daughter..
I wrote this poem a few months ago. It is about a doctor in NYC, when the city was in the middle of the pandemic. The Three of Hope actually exists in NYC. And there is a story behind it……
During the 1920s and 1930s, Seventh Avenue in the 130s was nicknamed the Boulevard of Dreams, a stretch of Harlem lined with top theaters and clubs such as the Lafayette Theater and Connie’s Inn. Between these venues was a lone elm tree (see it above) known as the Tree of Hope, bringing good luck to any up-and-coming entertainer who touched it before hitting the stage—as Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, Eubie Blake, and others did.
The tree didn’t last, it was chopped down in 1934. When the tree was cut down in 1934 during the expansion of 7th Avenue, it was cut into logs and sold as souvenirs. A second tree was soon planted but that too met the ax.
Instead of it now there is a plaque, to remind of the place where the Three of Hope once was.
Visual Verse is an anthology of art, poetry, short fiction and non-fiction. You can find more information about it here Visual Verse . Each month published or unpublished authors are asked to write something, within an hour, inspired by an image. The image for this month was the one above. And here is a poem I wrote about it( it hasn’t been published at their website and I don’t know if it will be chosen to be part of their anthology, but to me, is the experience that counts) :
We come from the place Where the air and the water make home, Where thundering hearts smile at each other And paint Valentines red.
On our perfect orb, We roam through space And lie in the meadows of the Sun and the Moon.
It looks a lot like freedom But here beasts roam free, Their waggling tongues are licking our place of its warmth and its beauty, While their tails blow boundless seas of wild dust, Entombing our sky. Our lungs are filled with smog, We lost sight of our reflection, And dust is catching in our dry, voiceless throats.
Weakened we come to you, weakened but hopeful. Please master, tame them with your hands And quench their thirst. Please master, make our world the way it used to be, And let forests grow, The oceans thrive, And season after season, We would feel again, The nature’s beauty and its perfect harmony.
Crying, The tears of your eyes fall in the ashes, Scattered on the streets. Your thoughts don’t stand tall, But crumble with the buildings, Down on the ground beneath your feet.
You join the other countless voices screaming, And feel inside you fear carving the walls of your skin.
A man looks from a window and then he looks at you, He put his jacket on to keep him warm in his trip to eternity. You want to fly every time you take a step And grab the arms that rise from dust and broken glasses, But you cannot, you cannot help them.
It smells like it’s never going to stop raining with pain, It smells of heartbreak and no tomorrows, It smells of burning candles at the funeral of hope.
Not a word said, You’re crying for the lost, You’re crying because you don’t know what eternity looks like.
All the wrongs of the past time bombard your eyes, What has life become? Is it too late to change it?
You bang your skinned knuckles At the door of the future And vow to go on a scavenger hunt All over the world, To find prayers, good deeds, And promises that stories like this will never repeat.
Note: Today is 9/11 and I remember it. I remember the faces, the terror, and everything that came with it. I will never forget. But that it is not the only thing that I will never forget. Although I only seen them in movies, like Schindler’s list, or read them in books like “Hiding in the Spotlight”, I will never forget the stories of the Jewish people whose spirts were lost during the Holocaust. The same, I will never forget the faces and stories of Syrian kids, and the ones of their parents, that were war refugees in Jordan. I took some interviews, and these were firsthand, heartbreaking stories. I kneel in front of their pain and wish that we will never repeat the mistakes of the past. I am sure that each of us have our experiences. I am sure that each of us have memories that have shattered our hearts. But I think we should do our best to bring light into this world, the way we can. I think each of us contribute, in small or big ways, to spread love and not hatred, to spread acceptance and kindness.