Hearing of Alia Muhammed Baker's Stroke
How a Basra librarian
could haul the books each night,
load by load, into her car,
the war ticking like a clock
about to wake. Her small house
swimming in them. How, the British
now crossing the limits
of Basra, the neighbors struck
a chain to pass the bags of books
over the wall, into a restaurant,
until she could bring them all,
like sandbags, into her home,
some thirty thousand of them,
before the library, and her brain,
could finally flood into flame.
Used by permission.
Philip Metres has written a number of books and chapbooks, most recently A Concordance of Leaves (Diode 2013), abu ghraib arias (Flying Guillotine 2011), which was the winner of the 2012 Arab American Book Award, To See the Earth (Cleveland State 2008), and Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941 (University of Iowa 2007). His work has appeared in Best American Poetry, and Inclined to Speak: Contemporary Arab American Poetry, and has garnered two NEA fellowships, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, four Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Anne Halley Prize, the Arab American Book Award, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. Philip blogs at http://behindthelinespoetry.blogspot.com.
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