Usha Akella
Iraq, where are your arms?


In his mind the world appears as gossamer,
on the borderlands of reality, he has forgotten
his age but love is stubborn too-its embers persist
as he navigates his orphaned siblings with stumps,
like a penguin’s or turtle’s shortened measure.

This land is a darkness in which all lights disappear,
and children plunge into water to wipe away our sins,
they could not have scripted this- the frozen expressions,
like masks in a grotesque carnival;

neither in condemnation, nor comprehension,
their souls withered stare- petals to parchment,

Mohammed hears no voices in this desert.


Not away, from or to, are you free, running free?
The sun warm on your arms, warm ash, singed flesh memory.

Are bells ringing instead of bombs?
Are you wearing the color of God’s skin?
Line the sky holding hands, tiny hands like stars in the night,

Throw us confetti, the color of all flags,
Help a mother sleep, sing to us till we are forgiven.