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Disaster Happens

In Baghdad, disaster
is an innocent girl
who speaks clearly about the crime
when the rapists
had on her no mercy.

Disaster is a fool
not strong enough to deal
just once with the city’s ruin
which bathes in deep slumber

which the grave can’t give
then it bathes in the lack of questions
as the license line to the dead’s service

Disaster is the one betrayed
usually trampled down by insulting sayings,
forbidden even though the writing is on the rest
of the pavement
is incumbent to be silent yet alive
absent mindedly.

And so during the disaster, they have understanding hearts
glorifying praise to the calamities—without reproach,
and the scream of rockets wounds the soul of the rose.






The eyelashes dance like loose limbs
With her eyes
Play on the strings of scrutiny
For the white mustache
And the military uniform losing buttons
In the allies that her family departed
Swaggered happenings of yesterday


Husam Al-Saray was born in 1982, near the beginning of Saddam’s reign, and grew up during the Iran-Iraq War. After graduating from the University of Baghdad with an engineering degree, Al-Saray changed career tracks to focus on writing poetry. He quickly gained a voice in Baghdad by reading at cafés and publishing in Iraqi newspapers. Two years in a row he has been invited to perform at the Murbid Poetry Festival in Basra, a gathering of the who’s who of Iraqi poets. At the festival, he shared poetry from his collaboration project with his fellow poets, “The New Young Poets,” who received a modest grant from the Iraqi Ministry of Culture to sustain their living from 2012 to 2013 as they composed poems. Also during that time, Al-Saray and the other New Young Poets compiled poetry from the anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq to present time in a collection titled A Biography of Iraqi Culture. In addition, Al-Saray manages Bayt AlShi’r (Line/Home of Poetry), a poetry project set out to give voice to any and all humanitarian issues of the Arab world. Since 2004, he has worked as a freelance journalist, writing for the online paper Modern Discussion, a media outlet that publicizes important dialogues about secularism and human rights. His 70-page book of poetry, The Desert Laughs Alone (2009), published by Beirut press, Dar Al-Farabi, depicts a destroyed Baghdad during the US occupation of Iraq.

Alex V. Gubbins lives in Marquette, Michigan, on Lake Superior, where he enjoys listening to birds and silence. He has been awarded the 2014 Witter Bynner Translation Grant. His poetry and translations have been published in The Progressive, Great Lakes Review, Warrior Writers, and Metamorphoses.