Thirteen poems for this Friday:
Abdul Zahra Zaki is a poet and writer, born in 1955 in Maysan, Iraq. His poems, as Specimen Press writes, “are concerned with the oppression of men in Iraq, who live under the conditions of war and violence.” He has published several works, including The Book of Today and Silent Movie.
The poems on Specimen are of a stop-motion death, as in “Faster Than Sound,” where: “Before he got to answer,/ the bullet got to him / the killer got in / started the engine / and drove off // his lips closed still / on an answer / about to come out.”
In the latest issue of Asymptote, editors have published five poems by Riyad al-Salih al-Hussein, tr. Suneela Mubayi and Rana Issa.
Syrian poet Riyad al-Salih al-Hussein (1954–1982) lived his short life with a variety of illnesses and disabilities: deafness, kidney failure, diabetes, and he took various working-class jobs. His work, in Mubayi and Issa’s translation, will also appear in the forthcoming Two Lines anthology Home, and three of his poems appeared on ArabLit in Ibtihal Mahmood’s translation.
The first poem in Asymptote is the straightforward yet devastating “Our Beautiful Life,” which opens:
Life is beautiful
says the sparrow
and drops dead beside the hunter’s shoe