Two Poems

by Ruth Awad

The Cedars: Beatitudes

Bcharre, Lebanon

Pity those whose limbs are heavy,
who’ve loomed centuries over city-tops

resurrected and cut down again.
Pity those who must idly watch

the machinery of this world click as it was meant to—
my god, they are children, barracks of them.

Pity those who shudder all day in your light,
who reach to you like minarets knotted from the earth.

Pity those whose silence is like your own
falling on the mountains, swelling on the waves.

Battle of the Hotels

Beirut, Lebanon, 1975

Along the Corniche boardwalk
where the only tourists are shadows
strolling arm in arm and the juice stand
has long since sold its last pureed pineapple,
along the sea’s slow chew
milling dust and dishrags,
bar soap, ice pail, and bone,
along the bullet-cogged cinema
where sprockets of sunlight looped in reels,
above gulches clutching
hunger-clawed refugees,
above balconies and slug-stung palm trees,
on the rooftops there,
on the broad-shouldered Holiday Inn,
on the Murr Tower, men,
all these gun-strong men
and their astral rounds strung
window to window,
men who fall for stories,
whose reflections chase them to the ground,
who are coins dropped
into the endless well,
who drip the pavement
with what wishes their bodies carried.

Ruth Awad has an MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Republic, The Missouri Review, Crab Orchard Review, CALYX, Diode, Southern Indiana Review, Rattle, The Adroit Journal, Vinyl Poetry, Epiphany, The Drunken Boat, and in the anthologies The Hundred Years’ War: Modern War Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), New Poetry from the Midwest 2014 (New American Press, 2015), and Poets on Growth (Math Paper Press, 2015). She won the 2013 and 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry Contest, and she was a finalist for the 2013 Ruth Lily Fellowship. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and two Pomeranians.

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