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Recorded for Poem-a-Day on September 19, 2017.
About this Poem 
“Twenty years after I left my country (Iraq), I returned in the summer of 2016 to interview Yazidi people who escaped Daesh (for the sake of writing my new book). One of the survivors pointed to his village on a big map on the wall. He mentioned that these colors of nature on the map, in reality, turn to one color, the color of dust. Then later, when a journalist colleague showed me a digital map of U.S. military bases in the area, the poem turned on like a light.”
—Dunya Mikhail
 

The War in Colors

The digital map on the wall

displays the American wars

in colors:

Iraq in purple

Syria in yellow

Kuwait in blue

Afghanistan in red

Vietnam in green.

The war

on the map

is beautiful

smart

and colorful.

Copyright © 2017 by Dunya Mikahil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 19, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Dunya Mikahil. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 19, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Dunya Mikhail

Dunya Mikhail is the author of several books, including The Iraqi Nights (New Directions, 2014), Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea (New Directions, 2009), and The War Works Hard (New Directions, 2005).

 

by this poet

poem

Through your eye
history enters
and punctured helmets pour out.

Frequent tremors occur in your land
as if invisible hands shake your trees day and night.

They blockaded you and banished the oxygen from your water,
leaving the hydrogen atoms to quarrel with one another.

Shouldn'

poem

In Iraq,

after a thousand and one nights,

someone will talk to someone else.

Markets will open

for regular customers.

Small feet will tickle

the giant feet of the Tigris.

Gulls will spread their wings

and no one will fire at

poem
The martyr couldn't believe his eyes
when his tomb was bombed
as he braided a garland for his beloved—
a red garland,
yet...on the way to heaven ...
it turned white.
He bent toward the water with a small rainbow clutched in his hand.

In this way he makes music.
He lifts is hands to the clouds and braids her