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.
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.
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.
–Art by Marta Bevacqua
–Art by Alphan Yýlmazmaden
–Art by Seamus Travers