Further thoughts on the cultural labor of poetry and art. Not merely "is it good?," but "what has it accomplished?"...reviews of recent poetry collections; selected poems and art dealing with war/peace/social change; reviews of poetry readings; links to political commentary (particularly on conflicts in the Middle East); youtubed performances of music, demos, and other audio-video nuggets dealing with peaceful change, dissent and resistance.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Sand Opera Lenten Journey Day 34: Saying to the Prisoners: Come out! (Black Site I) + Marwa Helal and Angele Ellis
Lenten Journey Day 34: Saying to the Prisoners: Come out! (Black Site I) +
Marwa Helal and Angele Ellis
to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
Site (Exhibit I)” by Marwa Helal
poems do the
work journalism can't and dreams do the work only dreams can do. i dreamed a
dream within this poem: the fly wishes for the prisoner's freedom at the exact
moment the prisoner sees the fly and wishes for its freedom. imagining it
slipping underneath the door. in waking, i skim the headlines. one reads: guantanamo detainee refuses offer of
release after 14 years in prison.
the one who wrote it, his name is "savage." which is real? and which is dream?
the unlikely is
likely in reality and in dreaming. journalism is the work of those who are
sleeping. poetry is the work of dreaming and dreams do the work of awaking. we
each arrive in the same dream with slight variations: a boy dreams the fly goes
unnoticed and his mother dreams of swatting it splat on the door, it crumples
in another's hand but the fly is now free as the prisoner is awakening in his
sleep. shhh. the prisoner has become
a poet and you've walked into the unacknowledged legislator's dream.
Helal's poetry has appeared in Day
One and The Offing. Her other writing has been published
in Poets & Writers, American Book Review, Entropy Magazine,
and elsewhere. More at: marshelal.com or @marwahelal
Scene II: Another part of the island. /
On “Black Site: Exhibit I” by Angele Ellis
Finger a page
of vegetable vellum, tender as the hide of a stillborn calf. Every cell points
towards Mecca. Be not afeard; the isle is
full of noises… Open, sesame: near the floor, at the ceiling. Close the
opaque camera eye, the slop bucket that is a perfect circle, a silent scream. …Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments…
Open the chain
near that thin rectangle of mattress, invisible manacle tethering an ankle,
unmarked collar prisoning a fungible neck. Open air between steel bars. Open
moon and sun over relentless artificial light …Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices… Open nine steps
paced by seven. Open black boxes, black ops, and blackened names, unlabeled
containers of sacred ashes, unmapped territories of rendition.
thousand-eyed fly, panopticon of mind over mind, a single pair of vellum wings
and searching tongue. …That if I then had
waked after a long sleep… Joy in this smallest thrumming heart, unsought
companion captured and released with hands transparent as a fasting saint’s. …The clouds methought would open and show
riches… Liberate the space bar and the meter, and then leave so you may
live …when I waked, / I cried to dream
is author of Arab on
Radar (Six Gallery Press) and Spared (A Main Street Rag Editors’
Choice Chapbook). Her poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in over fifty
publications and ten anthologies; she is a contributing editor to Al Jadid
Magazine. She lives in Pittsburgh. Note: Lines in italics are spoken by
Caliban in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” Act 3, Scene 2.