These two poems are presented here together, because they are meant to compliment one another.
Mustapha Marrouchi is as glorious, and grave, as ever. It is a privilege to continue publishing his work, especially in these present, grotesque times.
I hope you appreciate. In fact, I know you will (I am arrogant, and hopeful, like that).
– The Editor
Another Father, Gone Missing
goes the story,
is caught in a crowd of day laborers–
known to cluster at the driveway of the US Embassy in Baghdad–
and is swept into the back of a truck,
for a subdivision carpenter,
someone grimly determined to support his family.
The stocky men in the truck are cheerful and talkative,
and they motor up a smooth road into the hillside
where a severe beating occurs.
When the rain begins,
a trap is tented over the cab of the truck,
ballooning in time with the anxious breath of the passengers.
This is when her father becomes nervous and asks to be released.
He uses simple phrasing.
He does not disguise his voice.
His captors are impressed by his calmness,
but kill him anyway.
Or so goes the story.
The war–how long since it ignited?
Fifteen years, nine months, and two days?
Or five years, eleven months, three weeks, and three days?
Or has it been all our lives?
Didn’t it break out when you or I came to the world,
in that country which now not only seems so far away on the map
but also because of what is happening to it,
and what is happening to us,
hundreds of light-years distant?
That country, which I am not the first to forget–
nor the only one to not think of at all,
except for the war.