Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2016  Vol. 15 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Invasion (0329, 1990)

Under the glitter of morning’s dusk, still drunk with my first lover’s name.
Peeking out, behind blind slats, eight stories up: I shouted Your Name.

Watched their tanks tear in, blanketed by dregs of last night’s dark stealth.
They tore through, those terrors from the North, and I forgot my name.

Forgot to breathe—my index finger spiraled out digits on our rotary phone.
Left voice mails, incoherent messages: tried to recall everyone’s name.

Loved ones casual friends I woke my father before morning’s call to prayer.
An athaan, my uncouth mouth shaped heresy, damning Saddam’s name.

My speech shaken, struck in aphasia-like shock—my words siphoned, even.
But until, that day, of my, unbinding, I’ll keep saying that first love’s name.

For weeks blasts shook air. Panes shivered. Skylines were pummeled, razed.
August dust, white-heat sizzle. Kuwait City: bombed into a lack of name.

Weeks and weeks, deep under occupation, rifle butts split lips, caved in skulls.
Faces hushed, but those rifles, relentless. Corpses bloated, nameless.

Years later, bullets ricochet, whirr, pass through my mind, past emblazoned faces.
My father, shouting Sshh—lower your eyes! Give those soldiers a fake name.

My “I” silenced, though since my eyes speak Anger. Tidal rages grip my brain.
Lifetimes after, I still have forged IDs somewhere: my face, an Iraqi name.

On the dreaming side, heads reassemble: out of ditches, dust, from pulp, into form.
Those faces, me, we rise as one, chanting, “We Shall Never Forget” our names.

Once briefly named “nineteenth province,” in lieu of our country’s stolen one.
Know me, here: bint al-Hakim, always. My name spelled backwards is name.  


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