Three Poems by Danielle Badra

Ghazal for Lost Women

In old Arabic poetry there is always a camel & the camel is always a far lost woman,
lost to the world she once inhabited of cannibalistic holy wine and wafers. Woman

wafting scent of orange blossom seeping from attar syrup cooled on the kitchen counter,
counter to the culture of her mother who baked with anise seeds instead of walnuts. She

walled herself inside her fearful heritage when the once world’s center certainly collapsed,
collapsing her English language into Arabic attempts for fresh watermelon, bateekh woman.

Bateekh was her favorite word to pronounce when she was unfamiliar with phlegmy letters.
Let her return to the camel & the camel return to her a sense of discomfort like the day she

deluged the boy from girlhood, who held her silenced for several years by her sad memories.
Remember the monsters under her mattress were really inside her all along, terrorist woman,

terrorized by the thought of an evil side to her bloodline, of suicide bombers and martyrs,
martyrdom was never all that appealing in comparison to mediocrity, the average woman.

Rage is relative to bloody knuckles and what it was they were fighting for. For her huriya,
freedom is relative to the laws that bind it, she was bound only to her body, scarred woman.

Scarab beetles stood for reincarnation in Ancient Egypt, said to push across the sky the sun.
Deadly woman, deep is your longing for the land of memories, dwelling place of great desires, al-shams.


This is why I can’t be your lover


in conversation with Diane Seuss’ “I’m glorious in my destruction like an atomic bomb”

You want me to forget the face of death
so that my smile will be beautiful again.

You want me and I am only impossible.
The word beautiful isn’t around any more.

If you thought it was that easy to forget
the way death trembled at the bombing

of booksellers, of Baghdad and memory.
When an idea was beautiful and dangerous,

begging for safety. Or my father’s prayers
for his daughter’s pained face just before

they shut down her breathing apparatus.
I watched his eyes form the doomed edge

of whatever he was of a cloud’s downpour
before looking at her last gasp of air.

Would you then learn to remember that
I can’t smile and recall that beautiful end?


Conversation with H.D.’s Trilogy


For gods have we desired.
Possessions been smashed
the war on glebe was won.

For nation-states and idols
have we silenced. And their secret is
stored in
aqueducts of coal.

Man’s very speech for recognition
in the trivial. In the poisoned inkwell
have we reality or the real dream.


I take what the old-church won’t want,
the fragments found in Mithra’s tomb, in Persepolis.
A holy trinity, candle and script and bell, warped and erased and silent.

I take what the new-church spat upon in apostasy,
the bones of clay deities cooked and broke and shattered into existence;
out of carnage collect the fragments of the splintered glass without pricking my fingertips.

I risk false idols, fire, and breath to remember this grave
unremarkable after a post-atomic age. Melt down and integrate the story of divinity
as a dark demonic myth. Re-invoke, re-create. The light of the earth is full of this.


And as the snow thinned the land,
fell on flattened olive fields outside
Hebron, holy site and hub of commerce,

the desert uprooted dead seeds.
Blossomed after weeks of thawing hard sand,
as it had always done, white flowers freed before the fruiting.

It had happened at night, bulldozers.
Before it would stop, a wall was built. This can’t
happen again. It will culminate here.

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