Featured Poet

Meg Hamill

( Oakland, California )


—from Death Notices

marwa, tabarek and safa- died in the early morning dawn as we sheared through early morning rooftop sheep pens screwed into the belly of a cruise missile as we whistled through the side wall of a house splitting open as we are the rapture of dropping through the floor of a fighter jet as we snored slightly with three sisters in a split open room as we are one of the girls’ legs hanging from a ceiling fan as we are molten magnesium chloride processed mainly from brines wells and seawater as we are dripping on the sisters resistant to dilute alkalies as we are the ammunition the frangible bullets the mother the father who were crazy about them whose love wasn’t just ordinary love who are underneath the ceiling fan surrounded by pieces of you and me your neighbor my senator my country its alloys its metals its hands that were gathering and piecing together that are revolting and wringing together

fatehah- passed away suddenly when our muscles came swooping to the suburb of diala bridge even as her mother was tending to one cow a donkey some chickens fatehah joins the body count wherever your religion is piling them in lieu of pearly white gates the f/a-18 operation iraqi freedom video game

26 civilians mostly children gathering candy from us troops- i record here with profound sorrow with my heart in a void the size of a fist and pumping these children out through the void that is my heart muscle who were fascinated by helmet and flak- jacket clad american soldiers in armored vehicles these who were voids on bicycles whirling around in ribcages beating whose bones were growing even as we armored through their neighborhood in loud in incredibly loud vehicles who were pleading with the 18 year olds from my mississippi river my kalamazoo my arkansas Ozarks and fields saying please saying please for hersheys bars and caramellos who were killed by shrapnel and the voids in our ribcages where the muscle the size of a fist should be when a suicide bomber in an explosives-laden suv drove into a lower- middle class residential district of baghdad populated mainly by shiites and detonated himself and detonated his vehicle into the void where the heart should be a boy said my cousin was killed this is part of his bicycle this is part of his ribcage that held a heart now hold it in our void in our women draped in black near the shrapnel scarred scene in our ribcage


Hamill’s Comments...

I am currently working on a manuscript that uses the common North American Death Notice to mourn publicly the lost lives of Iraqi civilians in the current war. I was inspired to write these poems after reading Judith Butler’s articles regarding politics and mourning after 9/11, where she discusses the elaborately repressive systems by which America publicly mourns (or fails to mourn) the victims of political turmoil. Using the form of the Death Notice is meant to point at the invalidity of it as a method of truly mourning publicly (and not selectively,) the dead of this current political atrocity. The poems use the same stale and formulaic language that we find in real newspaper Death Notices, as well as language from journalistic accounts of these deaths from news sources. The poems become not only obituaries for Iraqi civilians, but lay claim to our own complicated and undeniable complicity in every single one of those deaths.

The poems move in and out of the universal and the personal, grappling with mourning lives lost "over there," while sitting comfortably "over here."

Next - Eve Stern


Current Issue - Winter 2006