today I woke up hearing the news 
you all know the news 
‘except the one who is still laughing’ 
I heard the news and meaning 
on the floor 
as if a flow of a sticky, dark, smelly liquid

poetry is not for talking about politics 
we all know that 
but I’m sorry, 
I’m truly sorry
when I heard the news 
the meaning erupted 
like a bomb in Gaza 
near a basement 
where Sadiqa and her two children live(d)

poetry is not a political statement 
I apologise from all of you 
it should be about beauty and love and profound things in life
like when Mahmoud Darwish talks about: 

‘the hesitation of April 
the smell of bread at dawn 
the beginning of love, 
grass on a stone…’

but how can one explain to a terrified one-year-old 
what bombing is
and why the ground is shaking every few minutes
and the windows 
and the half empty glass on the table
and the framed picture of a man you’ve never met
on the wall
and people say that’s your dad

I remember once
my mom took me to a funeral 
and everyone was crying 
and my mom cried 
I felt the whole world started shaking 
and I cried 
and I wet my pants 
‘mama let’s go out of here’ 
pulling her head scarf 
and people thought I’m so sympathetic with the one who’d died
but my mom was crying 
and all this is pointless

the main question is 
how can one explain to a three-year-old
sitting in a bus 
heading to the south
why we should leave our house today 
in the midst of all these horrible sounds 
and the rubbles of buildings and of
and why…
(the bus erupted) 

I’m sorry I’m truly sorry 
I know we’re not supposed to use too many adjectives 
in a modern poem 
that’s just bad taste 
I know 
I know that poetry should be self-referential and create a semi-autonomous environment
that poetry is not to gain its meaning from outside
signs should interrelate and then the surplus significance emerges from within
I know we shouldn’t express our feelings so explicitly 

but forgive me 
that I couldn’t think of any ‘objective correlative’ 
for the bombardment of the children’s hospital in Gaza
for people’s thirst
for the bodies left behind

just like when Neruda couldn’t find any
 for ‘the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children’s blood.’

forgive me that there is no literary equivalence for the catastrophe
there has never been.  

when I was having my cereal 
sitting beside my daughter 
in a city in the middle of the UK
the meaning erupted 
and it’s unraveling my poetry
(and how cliche this trick is! Disgusting!)  

I went to the main square afterward 
to see others who’ve felt the earthquake just like me
from far away
we looked at each other’s eyes 
we said ‘oh it’s awful’
it’s horrendous 
we shared our mutual despise of the political leaders 
we talked about the horror 
about water 
about last night’s meal that we’d had in the pub nearby 
‘how is Tom by the way?’
a friend asked 
tom was alright 
minding his own business 
and we chanted 
someone said ‘what a cute little girl’

but nobody asked that main question 
that we were all thinking of 

that how you can explain to a… 
the basement exploded. 
(another rubble among the rubbles)
no need to explain anymore. 
no need to think about it. 

Mohammad Javanmard is a poet whose work has thus far appeared in Persian. He also does research on the 21st century collective movements /collective subjectivities through world literature.


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