May 9, 2017

Four Poems by Faleeha Hassan: "Waiting for You", "My Mother Was Lying", "Persuasion", and "Faces of Love"

Faleeha Hassan is a poet, teacher, editor, and writer born in Najaf, Iraq, in 1967. She now lives in the United States. She is the first woman to write poetry specifially for the children in Iraq and was part of the feminist movement in the holy city of Najaf. She is considered one of Iraq's most celebrated poets and her work has been heavily awarded and translated into dozens of languages. She has a master's degree in Arabic literature, and published sixteen collections of poetry in Arabic. Hassan emigrated to the US in 2012 after her books of poetry landed her on "death lists" published by radicals. Her poems and short stories have been published in several American magazines, such as The Galway Review, Words Without Borders, Scarlet Leaf Review, and the Inner Child press. The Guardian published this interview of Hassan in 2016:

Waiting for You

Here I am
Standing on the edge of my white paper
Trembling from her emptiness
Oh, my poem!
My distant butterfly
Here I am
Opening my hand
Stretching out my palm
And begging you to land on it
Quietly do it
Let me drown in the
Meaning of my being
Do not leave me
Jailed between my paper’s
Lines and my mute pen
Come closer
Cover me with your cheerful colors
For without you
I will jump from my bones

(Previously published by Inner Child Press)

My Mother Was Lying

When my father was wearing a military uniform
And went out before sunrise
So no one could see him
My mom kept smiling for the length of his absence
So we didn’t see her choking back tears
And when we missed him
She told us
He is going to return the meaning to our map
We thought he was a cartographer
And when my father returned without an arm
She told us
He gave his arm to the homeland
And the homeland gave him a medal
We didn’t know the meaning of war
Until we grew up
That like plastic bottles
The tyrants had recycled our lives during their many wars
Now I understand
Why my mom was lying
And why when my father returned from the war
He didn’t recognize his face in the mirror .


I don’t have onions in my kitchen to be chopped
Nor shampoo in my bathroom that will sting my eyes
How then will I justify
The reason for my tears
My kids don’t know
I have been crying
Since I missed
the train back to my homeland .

Faces of Love

Do not carry me in your hand
Like a small bird wet with rain drops
Love is a traumatic experience
But I want to live it
To keep my windows overlooking the lake of the pink dolphins
When the evening comes
They will start dancing for me
And clouds will bunch across the ceiling of my kitchen
Love is a mysterious experience
I would like to sing to your photo
Which I keep under my pillow
But my voice is not suited for singing
Even my bed sheets are still laughing
Whenever I wash the dishes
And I think of you
The lather dances between my hands
Yes, love is dangerous experience
But I will live it
Because I’m afraid of continuing my life
With the furniture trembling
From the intensity of loneliness .

© Faleeha Hassan

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