Literary Orphans

Two Poems by Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

 Sometimes, I Close My Eyes

Sometimes I see the world, scattered

in small brick shacks along the hillsides

far away in Colombia

 

where it is only the poor, at the peak

of the mountains. Medellin, holding on

so the city can find rest.

 

Sometimes, I see the poor in my Bai,

shoeless and old, his teeth threatening

to leave him if he continued on,

 

and walking on barefoot, he looks ahead,

his eyes, not betraying the future, where

the children he’s populated

 

the globe with, will cradle him beneath

the soil, where we all go, poor or rich,

where we all go, if we believe in the grave.

 

Sometimes, it is just these children who

have emerged from a long war they never

saw; children, left along

 

the sewage drains, the same people who

brought on the war, now recapturing

the land as if the land could be captured.

 

Sometimes, the world is hazy, as if fog

were a thing for the artist’s rough canvas;

sometimes, the world is a shattered piece

 

of your Iyeeh’s dish, the one from ages ago,

the one that was not meant to crack,

but sometimes, this is the world, the simple,

 

ordinary world, where people are too

ordinary to matter. Sometimes, I close my

eyes so I don’t have to see the world.

O Typekey Divider

In My Dream

In my dream, I’m on the road, flying

somewhere, stranded at an airport.

I’ve lost my car or lost the keys

in my lost purse.

Or I’m in the airport security line

without my passport, a lone traveler

without a country.

 

So they want to know my country.

They want to know my place of birth.

They want to know the map that got me lost.

They want to know the name of those

who shattered my dream,

shattered my lost country.

 

So I say, I’m a woman looking for home,

displaced, a bag of useless goods

for my journey, a flip-flap, a ragged

bundle that only a refugee carries.

I’m the lost and unfound, from those

who did not come on boats,

 

those that did not come ticketed

in chains, those who did not fit in chains,

those, neither welcome by those who came

on boats nor in chains. I’m among

the newcomers, the new, newcomers.

Those who came, ticketed

 

not by plane tickets or train tickets.

Those who came ticketed by live bullets,

grenades and rocket missiles,

those, still bleeding from their sides,

those who found their way here

by crawling among the dead.

O Typekey Divider

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s exploration of her Liberian civil war experience in her poetry has won the hearts of poetry and peace lovers internationally and throughout the United States. She is the author of four books of poetry and a fifth forthcoming, including Where the Road Turns, The River is Rising, Becoming Ebony, Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa. She is also the author of one children’s Book, In Monrovia, the River Visits the Sea. Her individual poems and writings have appeared in numerous literary magazines in the US, in South America, Europe and in Africa. She teaches Creative Writing and English at Penn State Altoona.

O Typekey Divider

–Art by Marta Bevacqua

–Art by Alphan Yýlmazmaden

–Art by Seamus Travers