Wednesday, January 25, 2006


First Lady Laura Bush
The White House

10 February 2003

Dear First Lady,

These poems – the first by an Iraqi woman writing in the seventh century – I send you as a fellow mother. The proposed pre-emptive strike seems to me a “September 11th” which can still be stopped in time, sparing many children. It seems to me that all avenues to alternative actions should be explored now. I pray you agree and will bring your deep and humane influence to bear, for the children.

Sharon Olds


My camel kneels at Ibn Marwan's door
and groans three times in birth pangs.
Men circle her each night
with torches lighting the hills.
A leader and a youth bring companion armor
and words bright as Yemen cloth.
But crude milking injured her.
Now softly, on the slopes of Thadaq,
she's given dry food.
Then quickly to water, on good hoofs,
fast, her body lean.
Her summer offspring is unweaned
but day already smells of autumn.

-- Laila Akhyaliyya
7th Century

The Issues

(Rhodesia, 1978)

Just don't tell me about the issues.
I can see the pale spider-belly head of the
newborn who lies on the lawn, the web of
veins at the surface of her scalp, her skin
grey and gleaming, the clean line of the
bayonet down the center of her chest.
I see her mother's face, beaten and
beaten into the shape of a plant,
a cactus with grey spines and broad
dark maroon blooms.
I see her arm stretched out across her baby,
wrist resting, heavily, still, across the
tiny ribs.
Don't speak to me about
politics. I've got eyes, man.

The Dead and the Living , A. A. Knopf, 1984

-- Sharon Olds


Blogger Michael Parker said...

very good poetry. excellent post, Julia.

8:26 PM, January 25, 2006  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Thanks Michael - one of my favorites from the Poets Against War site - guess I should have mentioned that . . .

8:13 PM, January 26, 2006  

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