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from the October 2003 issue

Nothing but Iraq (March 29, 2003)

I remember as-Sayyab screaming into the Gulf in vain:
Iraq, Iraq. Nothing but Iraq.
And nothing but an echo replies
I remember as-Sayyab, in that Sumerian space
A woman triumphed over the sterility of mist
She bequeathed to us earth and exile . . .
For poetry is born in Iraq,
So be Iraqi to become a poet, my friend.
I remember as-Sayyab . . .
He didn't find life as he imagined it
Between the Tigris and the Euphrates, and
He didn't think of the herbs of immortality
Like Gilgamesh and
He didn't think of resurrection
afterward . . .
I remember as-Sayyab . . . studying the codes under Hammurabi
To conceal his loins and move toward his tomb
I remember as-Sayyab, when he was afflicted by fever and he raved:
"My brothers were preparing supper for Haluku's army,
And there are no servants but them . . . my brothers!"
I remember, as-Sayyab . . . We didn't dream of any sustenance
Unmerited by the bee, and we didn't dream of more than
Two small hands passing over our absence
I remember as-Sayyab . . . dead blacksmiths rising
From the graves and making our chains
I remember as-Sayyab . . .Indeed, poetry is
And exile
Twins . . . and we didn't dream of more
than a life
as life and to die in our own way:
Iraq, Iraq, Nothing But Iraq.

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