“It is the duty of every poet to speak fearlessly and clearly.”
– Sam Hamill

“It is the duty of every poet to speak fearlessly and clearly.”
– Sam Hamill

Submissions welcome, send to pnl@peacecouncil.net or
924 Burnet Ave., Syracuse, NY 13203


I Was the Earth

David Smith-Ferri

Amman, December 2006


Amal Speaks

I was the Earth:
oceans and atmospheres and continental drift,
forests and grasslands,
topsoil and bedrock and mineral-rich magma.
The moon pulled me. I swung the moon
on its course.

I was sister to the Earth
and daughter,
mirroring her fecundity.
I seeded the future,
sheltering it in my body,
hydrating it with my blood.
When I breathed, a green future glowed;
when I ate, it grew.
I carried Time in my hands like an ember.
Three times—Abeer, Abdul, Anoush—
I blew it to flame, to life.

These children who sprang from me
root in me

In Baghdad, when wintry war descended,
I became a hibernating animal, disappearing into a cave with my cubs.
Like embers in the cupped hands of a stone, we glowed.
But the sun betrayed us, and spring withheld its gifts.
Winter held.
Slowly, we consumed ourselves.
Skin and fur in folds fell from our bones.

Even before the Askirya Shrine shattered,
I became an earthmover.
I grew new claws, a thick black pelt, a snout,
a body designed for tunneling.
Others underwent a similar transformation.
Above ground our bodies moved on two legs,
but our spirit, tunneling below ground,
was the spirit of a badger.

Below the frozen surface I tunneled,
my children following.
The Earth, in its agony, befriended me,
set my course due west, beneath the desert.
In grief, we left our mother-city, our home,
the once-warm arms of Baghdad
and surfaced
in Amman.


from Battlefield without Borders, Iraq Poems by David Smith-Ferri (Foreword by Kathy Kelly)


This book is being sold to raise funds for the Direct Aid Initiative, which provides urgent medical assistance to some of the 2.25 million Iraqis who’ve fled their country and now live in Amman, Jordan or Damascus, Syria. To read additional poems, learn more about David’s experiences in Iraq and Jordan, or purchase the book ($12 of the $14 purchase price is used to support the Direct Aid Initiative) visit www.battlefieldwithoutborders.org.