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Another Father, Gone Missing & The War

Dear Readers,

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

Her father,
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

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.

2 thoughts on “Another Father, Gone Missing & The War

  1. Kudos to these two poets for addressing the war. As a bit of a wordsmith myself, I have felt compelled to deal with the war in some way, but, for whatever reasons, I don’t know how yet.

    “Another Father, Gone Missing”

    Here the poet has taken the responsibility of keeping one horror story alive and, thus, not forgotten. The figure of the father (a protector and provider) is here made powerless and impotent in the face of the “stocky” men of authority. He becomes a victim of overwhelming circumstances as he’s “caught” in a “crowd” and “swept” into the truck. For me this invokes an image of a body being pulled out into a raging and turbulent sea by an unforgiving tide.

    Stanza two adds insult to injury as his captors are described as “cheerful” and “talkative”, but later on when the father begins to speak – the tension that provokes his decision illustrated by the striking image of the cab cover inflated by “anxious breath” – he speaks with honesty and clarity. His civility has no place there on the “hillside” where a terrible thrashing occurs.

    “The War”

    As in the first piece, a concern with not forgetting the atrocities of war emerges, but in a direct fashion. There is speculation as to when the war (which war? you’re seduced into asking) began and a struggle to get a hold on how the war affects those of us who are so far removed from the immediate violence. I am here confronted with the reality that, though I was not born into a situation in which dodging bullets and being lulled to sleep by shell explosions is a part of my everyday experience, it would be naive of me to take this for granted.

  2. Mustapha,my uncle,I know not him until now,a mad man, mad in his own way. you know not how much you meant to me, how much you inspired me. How should I say father,dear, if the words mean what I feel? What happened to me? What happened to you? What happened to us? Uncle, father, dear come and bring home to you.

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