Textu and Other Poems

By Fady Joudah


lost each other in the war
he fled with the kids to the border

two years later
she made it to the refugee camp

he’d remarried
she became the second wife


The husband was a pharmacist
the multilingual doctor who delivered the news

was laughing
the worst catastrophe he said

makes you laugh
I never met the wives


The doctor would die later on
from an unknown illness

he knew what it was
the risk of stigma & loss

of income a brilliant clinician he was
for him death was


a thing that happens
As if a country I had

been building had come
crashing in a single life his life

Not country exactly but lots of small lives
Mr. Measure


Doc took photos seriously
unlike us in the predestined world

our spontaneous poses
he posed

as if his full being depended on it
as if it were a silent movie

(Flickr / Sigfrid Lundberg)

(Flickr / Sigfrid Lundberg)

Do You Remember

that night the war ended
our weapons your war

the camp’s clinic was burned to the ground
our clinic your health

what had you secure-
ly there


Those who remain are

those who are maimed
the poem worked its fingers through your

Economy of charity
a lending being lent

your distance
away from here


Luke Cool Hand I’m Your Father

Nurturing people into junkies
par for the course

pills & fear
& salt & sugar & grease

@the dollar store
They did have a choice


Softly killing them softly

@consumerist rates
science isn’t final

on a few points
If you want to smear smear

just don’t misconstrue me
I get paid well for it


& poets who get paid as much

wholly we listen to them
Don’t get all Che on me cheri

my patients “my”
as if I own them

as long as they’re nothing
but patients


& they me of course

they are called “lives”
This life loved you

that one got you a newsboy cap
gift card for fancy steak

or asked you to her house
or funeral


In tyranny there’s also love

as gesture & as such
compassion is easy

a deductible or co-pay
or who’d do this calling

a who’s who club


As for mass murder

it doesn’t need to occur
acutely in order

for it to be that
it’s not the hell one enters

but the hell one enters others into
& also enters

Flickr / emdot

Flickr / emdot


Your spine a river into the forest
can’t tell the neurons for the trees

I light & light
you up with sound profile

threading the image habit
of pleasure



When we learn how an infant in the womb
sleeps precisely in a parent’s pose

say with fist closed
pillowing the temple

What will become
of the poem


Credit: Fady Joudah, “They,” “Do You Remember,” “Luke Cool Hand I’m Your Father,” “Textu[“You spine a river into the forest”],” and “Conscience” from Textu. Copyright © 2014 by Fady Joudah. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc. on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

fady-joudahFady Joudah’s The Earth in the Attic was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. His awards and honors include a Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, a PEN Center USA Award, and a 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize for his translation of Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems by Ghassan Zaqtan. He is a doctor of internal medicine in Houston, Texas.

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