Deema K. Shehabi

May 8, 2015 Deema K. Shehabi



How sullen we’ve become in the belly of the empire;
nobody wrestles time for afternoon tea and honey in the empire.

What trumpets behind the fence? Orange-bellied birds in magnolia
blossoms, skittery squirrels, it’s spring in the sunny empire.

On MLK day, the children pack tuna sandwiches and apples
for the tent-city homeless who are going hungry in the empire.

Foggy morning in Oakland, the scent of deep-fish frying, and the newspaper says:
Koreans fly home to avoid expensive dentistry in the empire.

Body scanners, fingerprints, cameras on street corners—
airports have become dangerous places for Sunnis in the empire.

Friends pat me on the back, enjoy what you have;
distances between people have nothing to do with money in the empire.

Once, we rushed to the North End for succulent Italian.
Now, even the Irish neighborhoods serve up minestrone in the empire.

Who’d clip a foreign tongue and chop off a last name? Acculturation means men
with erased accents listen with vigor to Limbaugh’s litany in the empire.

She hears May Nasr’s song to Gaza, reads Hacker’s translations
of Venus Khoury Ghata and deposes a desire to give it up totally in the empire.

Deema K. Shehabi is poet, writer, and editor. She is the author of Thirteen Departures from the Moon, and is co-editor with Beau Beausoleil of Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here. Her work has appeared widely in various anthologies and literary journals. Her most recent publication is a collaboration with Marilyn Hacker titled  Diaspo/Renga: a collaboration in alternating renga. Her work has been translated into Arabic, Farsi, and French.