Fall 2011

Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 3


Poetry    Fiction    Translations     Reviews

David Allen Sullivan



Professor Nadje Al-Ali

I have heard of your
Persephone. She took six
pomegranate seeds

in her mouth, bit down
to release bright blood capsules
that stained lips and tongue.

The one who kept her
laughed, for she would be his bride
half of every year.

How to say? Sorrow
cuts us in two with sweetness.
Half the world is dead

to the other half.
Above us mothers walk
under bare branches.



Rana Abdul Mahdi

Nine months I’d waited.
The seed of the girl had grown.
The helicopter shook

the blue sky above
our street in Sadr City.
I saw others run.

Zahra, my sister,
tried to help but I was slow.
The machine puffed white

and I felt the heat 
lay a heavy hand on me,
as if I was drowned

in head scarves. Looked down
to find my legs gone. Skin strips
hung loose. My sister

seemed to be at prayer.
But her red insides were out.
Nothing but blood moved. 


In the ambulance
I begged them to save the girl
I was carrying.

They told me there was
nothing to be saved but me.
When my husband came

he stood in the door
nervously stroked his mustache.
He could not enter.

You were not this way
when I left you. You were whole.
Now you’re in pieces.

If you can’t return
the way you were, carrying
my daughter, don’t come.


They say I cannot
kill myself because Allah
has forbidden it.

But when I took all
the capsules I grew foggy
and everything swam.

It was like the day
I lay on that street. Nothing
and no one touched me.

I wish they had not
pumped my stomach. Blessings if
you bring me a gun.


© David Allen Sullivan


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