One more story he said In a restaurant in Amsterdam

- 1970-

a young woman came in
speaking Arabic  I said are you Iraqi
she said I haven’t eaten  for three days
I said what do you mean  she said
I need to turn  turn myself in
this was a strange language to me
a different logic  Come and sit I said
food brought out  she ate  finally
spoke  her husband now in Istanbul
they’d escaped Iraq  he was taxi driver
sold his car paid $5,000 to Turkish driver
to send her  Istanbul to Amsterdam
a big truck  crates of fruit and vegetables
had a tiny space           in the middle  kept her
there  gave her food and water supposed to last
seven days  lasted four  strange language
mouth of the truck  she was stuck
in one position for seven days  could not
move  crates of figs  pallets cracked
blocked  lodged  then they just dropped her
in the middle of Amsterdam right then  she was
hoping waiting  turn myself in  my husband not
far behind  strange language to me  I did not
understand  turn myself in  in the middle
of Amsterdam do you speak    speak

More by Philip Metres

Prayer

Wither me to within me:
Welt me to weal me common again:
Withdraw to wear me weary:
Over me to hover and lover again:

Before me to form and perform me:
Round me to rill me liquid incisions:
Behind me to hunt and haunt me:
Down me to drown indecision:

Bury me to seed me: bloom me
In loam me: grind me to meal me
Knead me to rise: raise me to your mouth

Rive me to river me:
End me to unmend me:
Rend me to render me:
 

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.

For the Fifty (Who Formed PEACE With Their Bodies)

In the green beginning,
     in the morning mist,
          they emerge from their chrysalis

of clothes: peel off purses & cells,
     slacks & Gap sweats, turtle-
          necks & tanks, Tommy’s & Salvation

Army, platforms & clogs,
     abandoning bras & lingerie, labels
         & names, courtesies & shames,

the emperor’s rhetoric of defense,
     laying it down, their child-
          stretched or still-taut flesh

giddy in sudden proximity,
     onto the cold earth: bodies fetal or supine,
          as if come-hithering

or dead, wriggle on the grass to form
     the shape of a word yet to come, almost
          embarrassing to name: a word

thicker, heavier than the rolled rags
     of their bodies seen from a cockpit:
          they touch to make

the word they want to become:
     it’s difficult to get the news
          from our bodies, yet people die each day

for lack of what is found there:
     here: the fifty hold, & still
          to become a testament, a will,

embody something outside
     themselves & themselves: the body,
          the dreaming disarmed body.