’Alams for Ghouta

                                    “And when in the heart of Ghouta, the news reached you”
                                                                                                                        Al-Akhtal




jasmine, water                                      rasping through                                   your words
            from the ancient well                           the barrels’ roar                                    I can no longer hear
                        you whisper                                         through killing’s fog                             you wander streets




walls you lean on                                 almost blind                                         climb, reach and climb
            your snow eyes opening                       I pluck you, touch you                       to breathe in your name
                        your dazzling sorrows                          the soil that bore you                           your root of song











A note on Ghouta and Eastern Ghouta In a 2018 report the U.N.’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic details the events that led to the recapture of Eastern Ghouta by pro-Government forces in April this year, following a “dramatically escalating” military campaign.
Neighborhoods suffered aerial and ground bombardments “which claimed the lives of hundreds of Syrian men, women and children,” the report notes. Hundreds of homes, markets and hospitals were “all but razed to the ground.” These indiscriminate attacks were “widespread and systematic bombardments” and the act of deliberately attacking protected objects amounted to war crimes, it continues.


In addition to the deadly violence they faced, families were denied food and medicine. According to the report, by the time Government forces declared Eastern Ghouta recaptured on 14 April, some 140,000 individuals had fled their homes and up to 50,000 were evacuated to Idlib and Aleppo governorates. Furthermore, “tens of thousands” of people have been unlawfully interned by Government forces in what the report’s authors call “managed sites” in rural Damascus, which includes Ghouta. Source UN News



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Khaled Mattawa is a Libyan-born poet, translator, and editor who moved to the United States in 1979.  He is the author of multiple collections of poetry including Fugitive Atlas (2020), Mare Nostrum, a chapbook (2019), Tocqueville (2010), and Amorisco (2008).

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