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Verse Sanctum: Write your way to healing

Source: Annahar
Above, an aerial view taken on August 7, 2020 shows a partial view of the port of Beirut and the crater caused by the explosion. (AFP)
Above, an aerial view taken on August 7, 2020 shows a partial view of the port of Beirut and the crater caused by the explosion. (AFP)
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By: Carpe Diem

 

 

Welcome to issue #4 of “Verse Sanctum”: The Carpe Diem team will dedicate the segment's upcoming issues to encourage everyone affected by the tragic Beirut blast to find psychological sanctuary in written verse. Submissions of either poetry or prose with a word count of 300-400 words will be compiled and shared with readers of Carpe Diem after being reviewed by the team. Through the "Verse Sanctum" initiative, we want to listen to your emotions, and provide for them a safe and welcoming haven.

 

 

Ode to the Mad Composer by Assem Bazzi

 

The matriarchs of my family

Have deteriorated

As all things do

 

One missing a leg

 

One missing an eye

 

Both still cursed with functioning ears

 

The Mad composer marches on

To the tune of beer bottles crashing on asphalt

Merrily flailing his arms about to the compositions of his mind

Ushering in the perpetual glass shards that rain on us

 

Clouds are taunting in the orange blazes of sunsets

Buildings have been ransacked of life

Homes are cathedrals to dead things under the naked sky

 

I despise the heat

I despise the people who defend the sun

I despise the pharmacist without change

I despise the gas station boy who won’t look me in the eye

I despise the smiles of those filled with unquestioning certainty

I despise the police, the military, and the boy scouts

I despise the traffic and the car’s broken AC

I detest the news and the talking heads

 

She runs around

Holding out her hand to help others

She runs around

In the midst of the destruction to feed

She runs into my arms

But the weight gets heavy and we both let go

 

We are all alone

We are all dying alone

 

While some breath still exists

While fingers keep flipping cigarettes

While the ones whom I love still cry in the corners of their rooms

While we go through the turmoil of feelings drowning us in inactivity

I will go through the motions as best I can

 

There is no cure to life

Except in momentary lapses of reason

So if you will excuse me…

I shall be following the Mad Composer

As we both usher in the naked sky with endless bottles.

 

 

Assem Bazzi is a Lebanese poet who has been contributing to the Beirut poetry performance scene since the summer of 2011. At the time of the explosion, he found himself in a state of quiet desperation and carried on with his day “bitterly accepting the absurdity of it all.”

 

 

 

 

 After the Dust Has Settled by Racha Mourtada

 

It’s been over a month, and the blast has sunk into our skin, permeated our pores,

crawled into the corner, an uninvited guest we mindlessly feed our stale grief.

 

It is a multi-layered thing: the cataclysmic explosion, its searing aftermath, muscle

memory triggered by the pop of a balloon at a birthday gathering that was meant to

evoke some semblance of normalcy. It is an efficient executioner: three or four cozily

co-habiting generations felled under each roof, family histories and homes

telescoping and collapsing into the dirt.

 

It is the residue of thousands of hearts splintered, hundreds of bones broken, dust

we still find in dark corners of rooms we thought the reverberations hadn’t reached.

Fine, powdery glass glinting on the sidewalk, ground into the asphalt by people

desperate to keep up the pretense of going about their lives. It is the indignity of

trees that have bowed down, violently shedding their leaves, disowning summer.

 

It is the dichotomy, the duality, the unholy mirroring of teenagers dug up from

beneath rubble their classmates scoop up with shiny new shovels. Of wounded

doctors treating the wounded masses. Of teary-eyed residents telling their stories to

teary-eyed journalists. Of people trying to start new lives amidst death, babies born

under scattered debris, wedding dresses fluttering like white flags of submission. It is

volunteers surging through blood-spattered neighborhoods like blood re-oxygenating

atrophied limbs.

 

It is the atrocity, the avoidability of it all, the apathy that rings louder in its murderous

indifference than the explosion that decimated half a city. It is the altruism of

strangers, the heroism of neighbors lifting each other up onto broken backs and

shoulders when they have been so brutally let down.

 

It resonates, the relentless echo of horrors counted and recounted in infinite

patterns, yet everyone looks the same in their grief, their rage, their helplessness,

their stoicism. It revisits, a shadow across each sunset, a breath involuntarily caught

at 6:08 every evening.

 

It is one heart, one month on, still beating, faintly flickering under the wreckage, a

testament to a collective spirit that will not be broken.

 

 

 Racha is the founder of Luqoom, a boutique publishing house for Arabic and English children's books, based in Beirut. Her first collection of flash fiction, “55 Slightly Sinister Stories,” was published earlier this year by Andrews Mcmeel Universal. She was at home with her family at the time of the explosion and they were luckily at the far end of the room when the windows blew out.

 

 

 

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 Welcome to Carpe Diem, Annahar's new literary section featuring prose and poetry- old and new, published or hidden within the nooks of unveiled pages of Lebanese writers. We welcome all contributions with the caveat that the section hopes to see rawness and authenticity in thought and emotion. Please send inquiries to Carpe Diem’s executive editor [email protected]

 

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