SHROUDING CEREMONY BY TALA ABU RAHMEH 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 15
I love you when there is no noise, when
the roof on top of us doesn’t matter, when we don’t need stars
that haven’t shone in thirteen days , to taste the beauty of the sky.
You look so beautiful now that you’re no longer in pain.
The veins in your face have settled down and the ash of bombs no longer
bothers you. Your toes and legs no longer itch for air, and your frown
has let itself go.
I love you when I’m no longer scared of you dying, when I no longer
have to get close to you at night to make sure you are still breathing,
when I know the fight, I never wanted to fight, is over.
Outside the dead are on the streets and I’m concerned with nothing but
shrouding you with the whitest sheet. Like kings of old Egypt you deserve
nothing short of a wrapping ceremony. I want to wash every ounce of your skin
with lavender and warm your eyes and fingers with hot oil.
Outside a baby is dying under his mother who is dying under the bed holding debris and the weight of poor construction (we blame everything on the occupation).
I don’t want their shouting to disrupt your cold slumber.
You loved me because we hated the same things, slimy okra (that looks and tastes the same), the smell of red meat being cooked, and people who can’t make up their mind. I loved you because you swung your eyes open like a child surprised
I sleep next to your dead body with the smell of trash that was burned next
to the right side of your face, the charcoal of our bedding.
I play with your hand, open and close fingers then hold on,
we are in this together.
TALA ABU RAHMEH
is a writer based in Palestine where she graduated from the American University with an MFA in Poetry. She works as an instructor at Bard College's chapter in Jerusalem. Her work has been published in several magazines and anthologies, including 25 Under 25, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye for Harper Collins.
SCOTT LAUDATI was 19 and selling merchandise on the 2006 tour of The Early November rock band. "I was lucky to be on tour with Ace Enders, a tormented, confused, genius of music, right as his band imploded," Scott says.
"Ace wrote an era-defining album as a teenager, toured six countries, had his band's poster hanging in the room of every 14-year-old girl, and then when the music industry burned back to hell he was dragged down with it. My poem is about an artist trying to exist in a world that never quite got him."
Laudati has published a book of poems called Bone House. Take a look at his music video for one of the poems which pretty much sums up the book.
ZEINA HASHEM BECK
"There's always a poem lurking at the back of my head, waiting for me to finally give in and write it. Sometimes I will not have time to write it immediately, and sometimes I don't want to write it immediately, but it will haunt me until I do. And when I do, I will haunt it until I don't. I won't say until it's 'final', because I believe there is always something 'else' you could do with any poem. I enjoy re-imagining poems (and not just my own) and I hope I will always be haunted by a poem at the back of my head." Beck is a Lebanese poet with a BA and an MA in English Literature from the American University of Beirut. She lives in Bahrain with her husband and two daughters. She has taught at universities in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. She has been published in the Arabesques Review, the BAP Quarterly, and Quiddity (zeinabeck at gmail dot com)
was born and raised in Honolulu, and has lived in rural Kentucky, New York City, and Pittsburgh. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MA in Literature from the University of Louisville. Her work is published in Passages North, Weave, Portland Review, Oyez Review, Karamu, Plainsongs, Common Ground Review, Ship of Fools, PMS Journal, The Hawai'i Pacific Review, Inkwell, Roanoke Review, and Spindrift.
JENNIFER L COLLINS
teaches at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. She's the Director of Creative Writing for Shenandoah University's Performing Arts Camp, and the Editor of Duquesne University's journal, :Lexicon. She believes writers should seek community. "I wouldn't be where I am as a writer if I hadn't worked to seek out communities of writers and share my work. Yes, it is terrifying at an open mic, at a workshop or reading, or to send your work out to a magazine with the knowledge that you'll probably, in all likelihood, be rejected—however, all of these things are so necessary to growth and artistic evolution, not to mention individual growth, that aspiring writers must find the courage to take these steps."
is back from a stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Ukraine where, as she says, she spent many, many hours on night trains. She is from Detroit with a degree from NYU in Writing and Political Theory. In Ukraine she taught English and organized community projects. "And I acquired even more non-marketable skills, such as cowherding and baling hay." (And picking apples.)
lives in San Francisco. She writes in her bay window at night and works at an educational non-profit during the day. "I try to write as much as I can when I'm not working, which I know you know is harder than it sounds, but it's happening," she says. "I write stories about relationships. That's as far as I've come in terms of how to explain what I write about. It's too limiting, but it's also true." Gordon has been published in The Rumpus. She has an MFA from the California College of the Arts.
lives in Smyrna, Tennessee. He has published poems and essays in The English Journal, Spring 17, Albatross, and Living with Loss Magazine. "When it comes to writing poems I love the creation process, the ways poems change from start to finish. It never ceases to amaze me how one idea can transform into other ideas," he says. "My goal is to publish a book of poetry. That would be really cool."
has a Bachelor of Science in English Education degree from Florida State University, and a Master of Science in Education degree from Johns Hopkins University. He has worked as a high school principal, English teacher, and translator. He has published several short stories, Talking to God on Lincoln Lane North in the Arcadia Literary Journal, A World of Light and Shadow in The Binnacle, Chicken Hawks in Paradise in Hinchas de Poesia, and a play, Ham and Eggs, in Palooka Journal.
LESLIE A MITCHELL
has been published in Byline Magazine, the Journal of Ordinary Thought, Work Literary Magazine, and Nefarious Ballerina. "I've been writing a novel, or rather not writing a novel, for 12 years. I'm probably not unique in this, but there are times it's annoying that I've taken so long to finish it." (lamitchell07 at yahoo dot com
CLAUDINE R MOREAU
says she struggles between embracing suburbia and rebelling against it. She teaches physics and astronomy at Elon University, and writes poetry and stories when not showing students the stars. Her work is published in PANK Magazine, Tar River Poetry, Segue, Neon Magazine (UK), and MiPOesias.
is a Texan living in New England with his wife of thirty years. "I return to Texas about once a year for enchiladas and a Whataburger," he says. His stories have been published in The Madison Review, The Chattahoochie Review, and Black Heart Magazine.
is a Peace Corps volunteer working with gypsies in Transylvania on a program to get every child in school. He has been published in Foundling Review, The Battered Suitcase, and others. jakelwalters at gmail dot com