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Hearing of Alia Muhammed Baker’s Stroke

By Philip Metres

How a Basra librarian
could haul the books each night,
load by load, into her car,

the war ticking like a clock
about to wake. Her small house
swimming in them. How, the British

now crossing the limits
of Basra, the neighbors struck
a chain to pass the bags of books

over the wall, into a restaurant,
until she could bring them all,
like sandbags, into her home,

some thirty thousand of them,
before the library, and her brain,
could finally flood into flame.

Added: Wednesday, July 9, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Philip Metres

Philip Metres is the author of ten books, including The Sound of Listening (The University of Michigan Press, 2018), Sand Opera (Alice James Books, 2015), Pictures at an Exhibition (University of Akron Press, 2016), I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2015), and others. His work has garnered a Lannan fellowship, two NEAs, six Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Hunt Prize, the Beatrice Hawley Award, two Arab American Book Awards, the Watson Fellowship, the Creative Workforce Fellowship, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. He is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University. Learn more at Philip's website

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