Download PDF Here Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two Sept-October 2022.
Breaking news: Mass grave discovered nearby, poems by Kadhem Khanjar.
These poems are translated from Arabic by Alice Guthrie.
Breaking news: Mass grave discovered nearby
Yesterday I went down to Forensics. They asked me for a sample for DNA matching. They said that they had found some bones, as yet unidentified. I turn and turn like an orange on the knife of hope.
Now I am at home, brother, wiping the dust from the artificial flowers around your picture, and watering them with tears.
The medical report says that the bag of bones that I signed for today is “You”. But this is little. I laid him out on the table in front of them. We counted again: a skull with six holes, one clavicle, three cervical ribs, a shattered femur, a pile of wrist bones, and a few vertebrae.
Is it possible that this little is a brother?
The medical report indicates that it is. I put the bones back in the bag. I brushed the earth from my hands, then blew the rest from the table, put you on my back, and left.
On the bus I sat the bag beside me. I paid for two seats (this time it’s me who pays). I grew up today, enough to carry you on my back and pay your bus fare.
I didn’t tell anyone that I had received this little. I watch your wife and your children brush by the sofa that I left you on. I wanted one of them to open the bag. I wanted them to see you one last time. But you were as unyielding as a bone. Afterwards they asked about the tearstains on the sofa.
For an hour I have been arranging these damp bones in the bottom of the coffin, trying to make you complete. Only the nails in either side know how little this is.
© Kadhem Khanjar
Kadhem Khanjar is a poet and performer from Iraq. Along with some friends he set up a project called ‘the Culture Militia,’ a group which performs poetry in sites of destruction and death including blown-up cars, minefields, bombed out-houses, ambulances, ISIS cages, and mass graves. His collection Picnic with an Explosive Belt was published in Arabic by Dar al-Maktutat in the Netherlands.