In May, NonDoc received poetry submissions for our Sundaze series from Faleeha Hassan, a self-identified feminist poet, playwright and teacher from Najaf, Iraq.
It’s not every day that a publication receives poems from Iraq — though we have had the privilege to publish content recently from Kenya, South Africa and India — so we decided to reach out to Ms. Hassan to learn more.
Below, you will find two of Ms. Hassan’s poems. On Monday, we will publish an interview with the author and more of her poetry.
For now, let’s begin with two pieces that paint vivid pictures on a war-torn canvas.
— William W. Savage III / Editor in Chief
Poems from Iraq
by Faleeha Hassan
Don’t dance on the Danube river,
It is filled with flies.
Don’t smile to the flowers,
The flies come to them from the corpses left in the open air,
Don’t look to the sky,
It is strangulated with smoke,
Take off your dream from your head,
Close your eyes
And walk in the road,
The war wrote your name in the list of death.
by Faleeha Hassan
Every time my father is late from the front line
Sickness strikes my mother
and I tour with her the hospitals of Najaf.
I write to him ‘come back to us now,
Make your sergeant read my words: I am about to die’.
He returns my letter, laughing:
‘We are the amusement of the blindman’.
Oh, you River of Jasim, you tore my years
Between my father’s assumed victories
And my mother’s wishes in the emergency room;
They used to plant hope in her mind
By sticking on the glass door,
Two notices confirming: (awaiting death certificate).
Her heart ages so fast
And I vomit from hearing the chants.
Every time the presenter says ‘Victory is on the horizon’,
My grandmothers’ eyes rise to the ceiling —
She hides a mocking smile.
With rage I scream at the screen ‘no victory’s coming’.
She whispers: ‘god is generous’.
‘You sound like my father when I asked for new toys’.
She quietens and we contend,
Awaiting his return before a new battle,
Fearing that a last fight may end the life of a dove.
(Author’s Note: Najaf: an Iraqi city, where the poet was born and lived most of her life. The River Jasim: is a river situated between Iraq and Iran, the location of many battles during the Iraq/Iran war. This poem was translated by Dikra Ridha)