Saturday, July 29, 2006


And then there was a gap
where my life used to be.
A continuum of tedium,
stopped in its tracks,
a cavity blown
where the banality once was.

Now my life is much too serious,
and yet the world around me isn’t.

The light on Chestnut Hill never dims.
I hesitate to tell the people there
that somewhere else
the sun is broken.
That somewhere else
my dad tells me
--so earnestly he could almost believe it--
that it will be alright.
That, miraculously, our building still stands,
and that he ventures home still,
every once in while,
to feed my sister's cats.

I don’t tell him it’s the cats
that make me cry.
That the thought of them cowered
in the stairwell,
not even meowing,
as the world’s face is peeled
is all I can handle.
My aunt cowering in the emergency room,
I can’t.
Whatever lies next to her,
behind the curtains,
I don’t want to think.

It thunders here,
my cat is behind the toilet bowl,
inside the couch,
and underneath the bed--
all at once.
I don’t even want to think of those cats.

A cat wounded in air raids on Al-Ouza'i


katy said...

the only response to this is silence. that's all i've been able to give you recently; attempts at distraction and silence.

here's more...

...wishing there was more.

thepoetryman said...

My oh my...Ashraf..simply beautiful.


pepektheassassin said...

Again and again and again. I am so sorry....

pepektheassassin said...

The poetry is indelible and piercing.

pepektheassassin said...

Ashraf, I have used another of your poems on my blog today, in light of the bombing in Qana. If you have objections, please just tell me and I will remove it.

arch.memory said...

Pepek, I will never have objections to that; I thank you...

PoetryMan, Katy, peace, wishing there was more...

twitches said...

This poem takes what is distant and abstract for so many people - the bombing, the ongoing violence - and makes it concrete and real by describing the cats (why is it people feel so little sympathy for humans, but their hearts wither when thinking of animals in danger?) and other things - the toilet bowl, the stairwell. Powerful and effective and sad. Glad I found your blog.

pepektheassassin said...

There was an old M*A*S*H episode where Margaret Hoolihan finally sheds all her unshed tears when a dog in the compound is run over...and we all know that her tears for the little dog are REALLY tears for all the death and destruction she has seen as a nurse, for all that she has felt too deeply to show. What is that called?--Transferrance of emotion?

Jonathan Freitag said...


Erin said...

It is the small details that the rest of us don't think about that bring this into focus. I would never have considered the animals, and that they are part of your reality, cowering wherever they cower, makes this piece painfully real.

Beautiful, and sad.

danny said...

No other words would suffice however good and beautiful they may be than saying nothing all and let the bleak silence utter the unutterable amid the rubbles and thundering sky Ashraf.

This particular poem of yours is powerful enough to melt even the hardened rock in the middle of the desert.

arch.memory said...

Thanks all... Here's to hoping this ceasefire is lasting. God know last night's "finale" was deadly enough...