Dr. Abbas Kadhim is an Iraqi-American academic specializes in Iraq, Iran, Persian Gulf, and Islam. He is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute, SAIS- Johns Hopkins University and the President of the Institute of Shia Studies in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Reclaiming Iraq: the 1920 Revolution and the Founding of the Modern State, Univ. of Texas Press, 2012; and “The Hawza under Siege: A Study in the Ba’th Party Archives“, Boston Univ., 2013.
David Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of co-translation with Abbas Kadhim from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice. Most recently, he won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family.
At Square 55, Baghdad
Abdulzahra Zaki, translated by Dr. Abbas Kadhim and David Allen Sullivan
At this particular hour,
dawn not yet up,
night’s cut short.
Under dimmed streetlights
the rhythm of their steps slows,
caught between bread and death.
Hand-cradled matches flicker,
and behind cigarette smoke screens
tired faces appear:
silent, looking for mercy,
day laborers, looking for work.
Their green hopes inch forward
towards a day that won’t arrive,
out of this pre-dawn that won’t dawn,
assassinated by a percussive blast
of smoke and ash and thunder
that shakes the Square, tears apart the street,
and darkens the night.
Abbod Al-Jabiri, translated by Dr. Abbas Kadhim and David Allen Sullivan
I wash the pale blood
off the sidewalk each night
to keep it spotless,
then join my murdered friends on the balcony
Death is ugly
when you don’t get to choose
which type of flower
to buttonhole to your murderer’s coat.