Monthly Archives: June 2016

Henri Cole: Poems about War

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Henri Cole’s work gets to the heart of things. Originally I sought poems relating in some way to the tragedy in Orlando, but war is less in the news yet an ongoing source of constant misery, as we have seen in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere.

War Rug

The pony and the deer are trapped by tanks,

and the lady with the guitar is sad beyond words.

Hurtling across the sky, a missile has mistaken

a vehicle for a helicopter, exploding in a ball

of white flame. Upside-down birds—red specks

of knotted wool—glow above the sideways trees.

Hidden among plants, a barefooted boy waits—

like the divine coroner—aiming his rifle at something,

enjoying the attentions of a gray doggy, or maybe

there’s a bullet already in his head. 

Hand Grenade Bag

This well-used little bag is just the right size

to carry a copy of the Psalms. Its plain-woven

flowers and helicopter share the sky with bombs

falling like turnips—he who makes light of other

men will be killed by a turnip. A bachelor,

I wear it across my shoulder—it’s easier to be

a bachelor all my life than a widow for a day.

On the bag’s face, two black shapes appear

to be crows—be guided by the crow and you

will come to a body—though they are

military aircraft. A man who needs fire

will soon enough hold it in his hands. 

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Two Poems in Sukoon Magazine

The newest issue of Sukoon Magazine, an Arab-themed online journal, is out with two of my poems!! One of them, “Out of Egypt,” is a Sestina. The magazine has poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art, and has an impressive lineup of contributors, including Philip Metres and Susan Rich: well worth checking out.

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Filed under Middle East poetry, Poetry, Publications, Siham Karami poems, Siham Karami poetry

Ramadan Begins: A Poem by Rumi

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Today is the first day of Ramadan, and so I’m posting a poem from Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (no claims on the translation) , but first this eloquent quote from Seyyed Hossein Nasr on the subject of this month of fasting:

A person who fasts with complete faith becomes aware very rapidly that he is a pilgrim in this world and that he is a creature destined for a goal beyond this material existence. The world about him loses some of its materiality and gains an aspect of “vacuity” and transparence which in the case of the contemplative Muslim leads directly to a contemplation of God in His creation.

The ethereal and “empty” nature of things is, moreover, compensated by the appearance of those very things as Divine gifts. Food and drink which are taken for granted throughout the year reveal themselves during the period of fasting more than ever as gifts of heaven (ni’mah) and gain a spiritual significance of a sacramental nature.

Rumi Poem for Ramadan

O moon-faced Beloved,
the month of Ramadan has arrived.
Cover the table
and open the path of praise.

O fickle busybody,
it’s time to change your ways.
Can you see the one who’s selling the halvah—
how long will it be the halvah you desire?

Just a glimpse of the halvah-maker
has made you so sweet even honey says,
“I’ll put myself beneath your feet, like soil;
I’ll worship at your shrine.”

Your chick frets within the egg
with all your eating and choking.
Break out of your shell that your wings may grow.
Let yourself fly.

The lips of the Master are parched
from calling the Beloved.
The sound of your call resounds
through the horn of your empty belly.

Let nothing be inside of you.
Be empty:  give your lips to the lips of the reed.
When like a reed you fill with His breath,
then you’ll taste sweetness.

Sweetness is hidden in the Breath
that fills the reed.
Be like Mary – by that sweet breath
a child grew within her.

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Two of My Poems in the June Dial!!

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The June Rotary Dial is now live with two of my poems! It’s a fantastic issue, so please check it out here.

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Filed under Formal Poetry, Poetry, Poetry in forms, Publications, Siham Karami, Siham Karami poems, Siham Karami poetry