Friday Poem – ‘Iraqi Bride in Transit’ by Abeer Ameer

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Iraqi Bride in Transit’ by Abeer Ameer from her debut collection Inhale/Exile which has just been shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year!

Cardiff-based poet Abeer Ameer writes of her forebears in her first collection, Inhale/Exile. Dedicated to the “holders of these stories”, the book begins with a poem about a storyteller on a rooftop in Najaf, Iraq, follows tales of courage and survival, and ends with a woman cooking food for neighbours on the anniversary of her son’s death.

Iraqi Bride in Transit
She’s nineteen, waits in Charles de Gaulle airport
unsure where to go. She hopes that Groom comes for her soon.
Her first experience of a plane journey hasn’t been Oh là là.
Far from her Baghdad home, her white suit is not so white now.
It’s the first time she wears high heels; she has blisters,
struggles to balance.
She wears her mother’s fur coat, a white headscarf,
white clutch bag holds her green passport.
Feels bare without her abaya.
Groom waits in Heathrow arrivals. It’s 23rd December 1974.
Three flights have arrived from Paris in the last eight hours.
No sign of her.
Iraqi Christians who boarded the same plane
from Baghdad waiting for their New York flight
recognise she’s the bride, take her to the gate.
Last flight before Christmas.
He is pupil. He do drugs. She rolls her Rs.
Groom’s lost hope. It’s late.
He gets up, ready to leave Heathrow,
gathers coins to make the international call.
What will he tell her father?
Announcement. Groom is summoned to Immigration.
Your wife says you do drugs.
He realises at that moment he should have taught his bride
the correct English term for pharmacy student.

Inhale/Exile is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Voting is now open for the Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice Award. Head to the Wales Arts Review website to vote for your favorite www.walesartsreview.org.

Friday Poem – ‘Four Poets in a Bookshop’ by Abeer Ameer

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Four Poets in a Bookshop’ by Abeer Ameer from her debut collection Inhale/Exile.

This cover shows a closeup painting of someone cutting reeds. The text reads: Inhale/Exile Abeer Ameer

Cardiff-based poet Abeer Ameer writes of her forebears in her first collection, Inhale/Exile. Dedicated to the “holders of these stories”, the book begins with a poem about a storyteller on a rooftop in Najaf, Iraq, follows tales of courage and survival, and ends with a woman cooking food for neighbours on the anniversary of her son’s death.

Four Poets in a Bookshop

In the land of two rivers and hanging gardens,
four poets meet in a bookshop. No one can know.
Portrait of Saddam watches; they hide under the cloak
of Arabic lexicon. They share with one breath
meanings that turn the Master’s key
to worlds where Adam was taught the names.

Trees, reborn as pages, witness the names
of four and those gathered to reach the Gardens,
as they escape their locked chests without key.
They are four men who know.
Reading between lines of apocalypse, each strained breath
foretells of beasts with their daggers and cloak

scarring minds and hearts of men by Baathist cloak.
Present are bygone days of Karbala’s names
which poets dare to mention under their breath.
Alive and well with the Lord of the Gardens.
Willing to exchange this world for the next, four know
that informants sell to the cruellest bidder for neighbours’ key.

Saddam’s spies claw to learn of persons key
and clothe their families in mourning cloak.
Three-quarters give eyes, tongues and nails. They know
they must not, to treachery, yield any names.
Silent skin, dipped in acid, bastes in hanging gardens
bearing to keep hidden secrets beyond dissolved breath.

No haste nor waste for ordained beat and breath
nor desire for the iron key
to dust’s throne; they dream of other gardens.
Longing only to reunite with the People of the Cloak
and the Most Compassionate through His Names.
Those clinging to ebbing sands of time do not yet know

The bookshop bears witness to what few mortals know.
Its shelves and books inhale each whispered breath
and all that poetry and scripture, names.
Kerosene warms the last poet. He clutches the bookshop’s key,
drinks black tea sugar cannot sweeten and wears a black cloak.
Alone; his companions have already reached the Garden.

Many years after a shroud is his cloak and cancer takes his breath,
the names of seekers are still hidden. Their key is kept buried in the earth
upon which gardens grow, and reed beds and shrines know how to Read.

Inhale/Exile is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy from us.

Friday Poem – ‘The Storyteller’ by Abeer Ameer

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘The Storyteller’ by Abeer Ameer from her debut collection Inhale/Exile. This poem is also featured in 100 Poems to Save the Earth.

The cover of Inhale/Exlile shows an expressive painting of someone cutting yellow reeds over a bowl.

Abeer Ameer writes of her forebears in her first collection, Inhale/Exile. Dedicated to the “holders of these stories”, the book begins with a poem about a storyteller on a rooftop in Najaf, Iraq, follows tales of courage and survival, and ends with a woman cooking food for neighbours on the anniversary of her son’s death.

 “…these poems remind us that even in the darkest times, there is light, and there is love.” – Katherine Stansfield

The Storyteller
Aesop had nothing on her. The children gather
on the rooftop level with the heads of Najaf ’s palm trees,
sit cross-legged ready for stories before bed.
An uneasy weight on her chest; she’d found her youngest
trapping sparrows again.
There was and how much there was…
She tells the story of a beautiful bulbul.
Shiny feathers, bright plumes,
how its song filled the air
until the king ordered it be caught
and caged, kept for his eyes only.
Soon its feathers greyed,
the light in its eyes vanished,
the song in its throat withered.
Her eyes wander to that space,
empty since his fourth birthday.
She continues:
The bulbul’s mournful mother
searched everywhere for her child,
unable to eat or sleep.
Both died from sadness.
The king, filled with remorse,
promised to protect all his kingdom’s wildlife
Then he became the kindest, wisest king on earth.
And they lived a happy life.
She looks to the stars, mutters
When you cling to a thing you love it dies.
Sometimes when you love you must let go…must let go.
Her soft voice trails off. The children focus on the cigarette
in her left hand which balances a tower of ash.
In her right hand, amber prayer beads;
her thumb strokes the top of each before moving it along.
She recites Al-Fatiha, scans the sky for the crescent moon.

Inhale/Exile is currently half-price in our bank holiday summer sale. Buy before midnight on Monday 30th August and get your copy for just £4.99! Buy now.

Zoë Brigley and Kristian Evans, co-editors of 100 Poems to Save the Earth, are joining us at Virtual First Thursday on Thursday 2nd September. Tickets are £2.74 (inlc. admin fee) and available through Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/168074853411. We’ll also hear some of the contributors read their poems.

This bank holiday weekend, get 50% off all books on our website* in our half-price summer sale. Ends midnight Monday 30th September.

*marked titles only, subject to availability.

Friday Poem – ‘The Reed Flute and I’ by Abeer Ameer

This week our Friday Poem is ‘The Reed Flute and I’ by Abeer Ameer from her debut collection Inhale/Exile. Abeer recently featured on an episode of the Babble podcast which can be listened to here.

Abeer Ameer writes of her forebears in her first collection, Inhale/Exile. Dedicated to the “holders of these stories”, the book begins with a poem about a storyteller on a rooftop in Najaf, Iraq, follows tales of courage and survival, and ends with a woman cooking food for neighbours on the anniversary of her son’s death.

 “…these poems remind us that even in the darkest times, there is light, and there is love.” – Katherine Stansfield

Inhale/Exile is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Watch Abeer read ‘The Reed Flute and I’ on our Youtube channel.

Friday Poem – ‘Green Ink’ by Abeer Ameer

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Green Ink’ by Abeer Ameer from her debut collection Inhale/Exile.

Abeer Ameer writes of her forebears in her first collection, Inhale/Exile. Dedicated to the “holders of these stories”, the book begins with a poem about a storyteller on a rooftop in Najaf, Iraq, follows tales of courage and survival, and ends with a woman cooking food for neighbours on the anniversary of her son’s death.

 “…these poems remind us that even in the darkest times, there is light, and there is love.” – Katherine Stansfield

Inhale/Exile is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy from us.

Watch Abeer read her poem ‘The Reed Flute and I’: