Wadis of the western desert
Feed the Euphrates as it flows
To its confluence with the Tigris

Operation New Dawn
Reboots ancient civilization
Endgame in the casualties of war

Golden jackals caught in the sharqi
Insurgents and civilians alike
Assassinated scholars (whispering)

‘We took pleasure in silence.
We became still, fearing the secret might part our lips.
We thought that in words laid an unseen ghoul’

Reeds shift in lotus waters recalling
Sumerian Temple Hymns
En-hedu-anna’s symbolic expulsion

First poet’s vertical genius, she is
Birthed beneath a valonia oak
Logosyllabic language touched where

‘The great gods kissed the earth
And prostrated themselves’
Before incipient time

Cuneiform tablets exclaim
‘Stay as you are, a secret world
Not such things as a soul discerns’

Dialectics, ideology, theological questing
European otters hunt amidst the willow
Trained falcons spy above the poplars

‘Spinner of poems, the last muse
In a world whose mirrors are dimmed’
As she becomes conscious of her inner life

‘High mountains, the land
Of cornelian and lapis lazuli’
Arabesque imaginarium of culture

Mouflon roam the Zagros forest steppe
Hooves deftly progress the cliff faces
Of Cheekah Dar

‘I approached the light but the light was scorching hot
I approached the shade but there I met a storm…
My honeyed mouth became venomous’

Manuscripts caught by sparks burn to ash
Artifacts pass into the hands of thieves
Here is the dénouement of Iraq’s art

A self-imposed enforced exile
‘Why do we fear words? Some words are secret bells…
To whom will we pray … but to words?’

Notes: Quotes from Nazik al-Malaika’s ‘Love Song for Words’ and ‘Song for the Moon’ and En-hedu-anna’s ‘Nin-me-sharra: Lady of all the Divine Powers’.

Nazik al-Malaika was an Iraqi poet known for her introduction of free verse into Arabic poetry with her 1949 collection Sparks of Ashes. In 1970 she left Iraq for Kuwait then after the 1990 invasion moved to Cairo. She died in 2007 leaving a legacy of poetry, literary criticism, the University of Basra, and political change through her lifelong commitment to defending women’s rights.

En-hedu-anna is possibly the first poet; her extant works are considered by some to be the first revelation of an awareness of individual consciousness. Her work displays her keen intellect and understanding of psychology. She was an Akkadian princess, high-priestess, and poet in Ur, a Sumerian city-state, until her death in 2250 B.C.E. She created a corpus of literary works definitively ascribed to her that include many personal devotions to the goddess Innana and a collection of hymns known as the “Sumerian Temple Hymns” that are regarded as one of the first attempts at a systematic theology.

Iraqi scholars and professors have been assassinated since the invasion and occupation and remain targets of violence. Thousands of the intelligentsia fled to Syria and Jordan. Efforts to stem the tide of ‘brain drain’ and rebuild higher education institutions are ongoing. The staggering loss of cultural heritage following the invasion has added to the reluctance to repatriate. Continuing concerns for their safety keep many from returning to Iraq. An alarming number of professors inside and outside the country have PTSD.

Connected to the fantastic Poetics prompt by the ever mindful Karin at dVerse Poets Pub http://dversepoets.com/2012/06/16/re-joycing-in-poetics-and-exile/.

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