Help Monday Planting | James Hannon

How Will You Help

Miroslava Panayotava
Apple
digital art
©2021
I woke in the middle of the night
to a vision I didn’t know I had desired.

A young, dark-skinned woman
In a light blue hijab and long white robe
took my left hand and slowly drew me
through my bedroom window.
She wanted to show me something. 
I knew I would follow her anywhere.

We floated slowly it seemed but 
the ground passed quickly beneath us.
Looking down through the night sky
I had many questions but I soon understood
her silent language of movement and gesture.
Trust me completely.  Be patient.

Her free hand would sometimes extend
toward the ground and we would descend
towards the earth to see illuminated families,
children at play, other children crying.

Then we stopped to hover over a broad forest.
Slowly my vision focused.
I saw men and women running 
through the night, carrying their crying
and screaming children.
As they ran fire fell from the sky 
and the forest ignited behind them.
I couldn’t tell if they would outrun the flames.

My chest tightened as did my grip on her hand.
She floated closer to me and kissed my forehead.
I felt my chest break open like a shell.
I was overcome with love and pain.

She released my hand and pointed to the ground
What, I wondered?
She held my gaze with loving eyes.
I felt her response.  How will you help?

Sarajevo Monday

Gerry Shepherd
Red Landscape
©2021
Waken at dawn
to a muezzin’s call 
from a nearby minaret.
“Hayya alas Salah; Hayya alal Falah.”
Hasten to prayer; hasten to success.
Prayer is better than sleep.

Follow footprints in the sand
of Sarajevo sidewalks
where mortar can still fall
from the walls above you,
to the market where mortars 
lobbed from hillsides mingled
animal, vegetable, mineral.
Among your twenty questions—
Is it a species that kills for pleasure?

Those are roses painted 
on sidewalks where victims fell.
That cemetery sprouts rows 
of identical white stiles. 

Now to the old town 
where young Muslim women 
have colored their hair
fuchsia, magenta, crimson.
Walk past ruins of a caravanserai
to the ancient bazaar cornered by 
a cathedral, a mosque, a synagogue.

A collective effort feeds
the wild dogs at the market.
They seem wary of strangers 
but they know their friends.

Walk down Ferhadija Street
to where you’re welcomed into
the courtyard of the old mosque.
Please observe the symbols:
no smoking, no short skirts, no guns.

In a cafe on Dulagina Cikma
hear the death metal rap of Necro
“I’ll hit that pussy up with a nasty attack”
followed by Marley’s “One Love.”

Up in the hills after-school children 
play around a broken fountain.  
Behind them eighty names
are carved in a marble wall-- 
wide-ranging birth years
and a three year range for deaths.
Abdullah, Rabia, Mohammad.

A chubby boy is teased by the others.
Two adults, maybe teachers, 
encourage him to re-engage, 
and stay to watch.
The children play again.



from Courtship of Winds, Winter 2016

Spring Planting

Ground must be plowed for the seed to be sown
but the turf cries out with a painful moan
against this inversion of all it has known.

Why here, why us? The grasses cry.
What have we done that we must die?

Ah, my friends, you’ll see, I can swear by God,
It’s your soil that counts even more than your sod.
New life more splendid than familiar grass,
sweet fruit and bright flowers will bloom at last.
Not without effort and not without pain,
but the harvest will bring inconceivable gain.
Miroslava Panayotova
Flowers 2
digital art
©2021

Poetry ©2021 James Hannon
All rights reserved

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