Thursday, October 18, 2007

Alex and me and the M that marks The Mothers

So we come out of class, Integrated Studies 3500, Humanities 320 R, Communications 350R, "Language, most dangerous of possessions." Alex has just lectured on/performed Mallarme, the poem "A Throw of the Dice," about the kinds of meaning we create with our sounds/words, meanings that are constellations painted on the non-narrative starry sky.

We walk to my office and can't quit talking about meaning and constellations. I pull the German/Czech poet Rilke's "Duino Elegies" off my shelf, a translation done by Alex's and my old friend and Welsh poet Leslie Norris:

Who can show us a child as he really is? Who
can send him among the constellations and let him stretch
his hand among the wide distances? . . .

As for us, we are spectators, always and everywhere,
turned to the universe, with no access!
It overwhelms us. We organize it. It falls apart.
We order it again, and fall apart ourselves. . . .

And above that, the stars. New stars, of the land of Sorrow.
Solemnly she names them: --There,
look: The Horseman, The Staff, and that full constellation
we call: The Wreath of Fruit . . .
And in the southern sky, unblemished as in the palm
of a saintly hand, the clear, luminous 'M'
that marks The Mothers. . . .

I point at the 'M.'
Alex points at the 'M.'
Don LaVange snaps his shutter.


michael morrow said...

There's this thing, just keeps com'n alive, When I breath, when I do my dance, crippled, stomach dangling, breath doesnt seem to notice, seems moves could not care less, just move, just feel and more. Something happens at the mention of creative movement, movement gets creative when it moves, words get bigger, come easier somehow light's character, children faces become me.

Often as I am approach sleep, I see the top of my head is no more. I just see black-blue sky, stars, constellation float by as I fade in

Here's a piece that speaks of movement:


Physical movement





between body and


required to

out wrinkles inherent




And when there's no more die, keep moving, by then lady luck wont care anymore's all in the recovery

michael morrow said...

Scott reminded me yesterday that my last post was sorta out there, not relative to ongoing post conversation. It's true, so often ongoing personal conversation with self is totally disconnected from ongoing conversation outside, society's conversation. In fact, in a very real way, there is always a disconnect between constantly running head dialogue and outside dialogue. In the movie we saw last week, "Everyone for Himself, and God Against Everyone," there was an interesting section we briefly discussed in class where Kaspar sat at the piano trying to transfer a tune from his head through his arms into his hands.

The struggle to manifest information, well known, well thought-out, well rehearsed information from the human brain into "outside" environment is obviously, an age-old problem; an ongoing "Throw of the Dice" so powerfully pointed out my Mallarme/Caldiero. Hence, "Language-A Most Dangerous Possession." Watching Kaspar almost made me naucasus. His desperate, ragged, half-assed best attempt to productively tap into an uplifting, melodious piece of music locked in his head was all too familiar.I was reminded of the times a song's lyrics have been crystal clear in my head. Then I attempt to recreate through my mouth reminiscent beauty; not a pritty sight, sound, nor attractive experience. I love the image of constellation's mental starry ideas/art floating over, in and through my brain, inaccessible, visibly clear in my mind's eye; absolutely nothing short of an ethereal mirage.

I have children, I have women/wives I love/loved. The Norris poem Scott quotes here nailed my brain to relationship's constellation laden nebulous sky of commitment, love, broken hearted lessons unwilling/unable to relinquish benefits of painful growth, sensuality's momentous fulfilling feelings of "Everyone-Lover Satisfies For Himself; God Too." Kaspar too, me too, you too

No one shows us anyone as he really is.......only individual change. As Roty says we make ourselves, moment-to-moment. And yet, I remember How and What and Why you look as you do, to me only.

I am recreating an image of Norris' Scott recreated poem. I have also recreated the latest interview conducted by a friend of many people in this class and in this school, Laura Hamblin. I find the work she is doing in Jordan absolutely vital, absolutely mind stretching. It too, is rubber on the road to societal/cultural/inter-intra relationship Ex-change. If you arent familiar with her chivalrous commitment of be the societal change she sees must happen, check out her web site.

Who can show us a child as he really is? Who
can send him among the constellations and let him stretch
his hand among the wide distances? . . .

As for us, we are spectators, always and everywhere,
turned to the universe, with no access!
It overwhelms us. We organize it. It falls apart.
We order it again, and fall apart ourselves. . . .

And above that, the stars. New stars, of the land of Sorrow.
Solemnly she names them: --There,
look: The Horseman, The Staff, and that full constellation
we call: The Wreath of Fruit . . .
And in the southern sky, unblemished as in the palm
of a saintly hand, the clear, luminous 'M'
that marks The Mothers. . . .

I point at the 'M.'
Alex points at the 'M.'
Don LaVange snaps his shutter.

Interview with S.J. (Syrian-Christian Iraqi Woman Refugee) in East Amman 9/20/2007
interview by Laura Hamblin

L.H.: Tell your story.
S.J.: Our story started during the falling of Saddam’s régime. It was related to my younger sister who was married to a cousin who had Canadian citizenship; he is from Iraqi roots and he has Canadian citizenship. He quit living in Canada after marring my younger sister, when he started living and working in Iraq. And after the falling of Saddam’s régime, after the coalition forces entered Iraq, he was killed because he had foreign citizenship—he was not Iraqi. He was killed on the 14th of September 2004, while leaving his company with his friend who is Canadian. Two cars attacked them. They were unknown people. They attacked them and shot them. Both of them were killed at that time. When he was killed, he had only one small daughter—she is now nine years old. So our suffering started from that time. And the unknown people, from their gang, started following us from that time, looking for his wife and daughter. They wanted to kill them with him. So after that, he [the man killed] had a sister and a mother in Canada. My sister called her in-laws in Canada and asked them what they could do to serve them, because they were afraid. So the mother and sister-in-law in Canada contacted a journalist in Canada, who was sent to Iraq to have an interview with my sister and her small daughter. And they took my sister and niece to be safe in the Green Zone. So after my sister and her daughter were safe in the Green Zone, the gang started following me and my family asking us about where my sister was, because they wanted to kill her [my sister].

L.H.: How did they contact you?
S.J.: They usually contacted us during the morning hours. They were police people—from the Iraqi police.

L.H.: The Iraqi police were following you?
S.J.: Yes, they worked as police in the morning and as gang in the evening. So they threatened to take me and yet another sister as a substitute for my sister who was married to the Canadian. They usually came with small bombs and explosions with them and they threatened to explode the whole building containing from twelve to fifteen apartments. They threatened to explode the whole building because we were living in it. They stated to follow us wherever we went, continuously. That made my children leave from school. Two of my children stopped going to school. Two of my sons were getting their technical education, and one was in high school. They suffered and were threatened, so they left their school and sat at in the house.

L.H.: So they just stayed home.
S.J.: Yes, they just stayed home because they couldn’t continue their education. One day they attacked my house, and they attacked and hit my husband. So we had a lot of problems and troubles, even with our relatives. Many of our relatives didn’t want us in their houses because we were threatened. At the end we went to my husband’s family’s house. While we were there, my husband would go to our house to check on things and to get some things we needed. Once when he went to check on our home, they followed him and he notice that he was being followed while he was in our house, so he climbed the stairs to the roof and tried to jump to another building, and he fell and hurt his back. He underwent a disc operation, and the operation failed and now he needs another constructive disc operation.

L.H.: Is he always in pain?
S.J.: Yes, he’s always in pain. The back was affected and the pain from the nerve root radiates in the limb [down the leg]. Many times the gang tried to shoot him while he was stopped at the traffic lights in the street. Once, we were followed by a car, and the people in it tried to kill us. So we took the road to the police station, and that made the gang stop following us. From that time we started thinking of leaving Iraq, especially because my father had a bad medical situation, some sort of heart failure, so we decided to leave Iraq. My father used to live with us—he didn’t like to live with my brother. But we were unable to get him to go the hospital when he needed, because he had bad heart failure. We were unable to bring him to the hospital. And once my father noticed that we were in a real threat he asked us to leave—especially my husband and our middle son were usually followed and trying to be killed—so my father asked us to leave, and he stayed with my younger sister. At that time we didn’t have enough money to leave Iraq, and we didn’t have any time to sell anything. So we asked my sister to collect some money for us and for my other sister, just enough for us to reach Amman only. So we started to collect our belongings from our house to my husband’s family. And from there we left Iraq during the curfew hours because we didn’t want to be followed. So during the curfew hours, during one night, we left Iraq.

L.H.: What year was this?
S.J.: It was the 28th of November, 2004. We reached Amman on the 29th of November, 2004. Even after we arrived in Amman, we were so afraid of going outside and showing ourselves, because we were so afraid from all we had been through. We have some pictures of my sister’s husband, when he was killed. Talking about it is not like experiencing what we suffered. We have talked for about a half an hour—but we suffered so much during that time. It was a very, very black period for us. My sons have not been in school since they were in Iraq. And when we came here they were not allowed to go to school. Now, even thought the law has changed [and they can go to school in Amman] they find it very difficult to start again to go back after being away for so long. Only my younger son goes to school; he is now in the ninth year. I have three children and they are all here.

L.H.: Do you see yourself ever being able to go back to Iraq?
S.J.: No—it’s impossible. We can’t. Even if the political situation were to clear up and everything were to settle—the people are not so good people, and we would not be able to live with them again. We love our country. No one wants to live in their country as much as we do, but for us it is so difficult to go back again.

L.H.: What do you miss most about Iraq?
S.J.: I miss everything. Everything.

L.H: Do you have hope?
S.J.: Because nothing is working out for us. We have no hope now days. We just want to know what will go on.

L.H.: Is it likely that you’ll be able to get a visa and immigrate to the United States of Canada?
S.J.: It’s too difficult. We lost everything we had in Iraq so we are not well supported financially to apply for immigration. We only brought small containers of our clothes. We didn’t bring anything with us.

L.H.: Where do you see yourselves in five years?
S.J.: We have hope that UNHCR will help us. We are registered with UNHCR as refugees.

L.H: So there is a possibility you will get out?
S.J: Yes, we have hope they will help. We have no hope except this organization [UNHCR], because any traveling to another country has to be supported financially. We and our family are not supported financially. So our only hope is UNHCR. They may help us.

L.H.: How long have you been in Jordan?
S.J.: Two years and a half.

L.H.: What would have to take place in order for peace to exist in Iraq?
S.J.: It is a political question and I’m not that knowledgeable about political situations.

L.H.: What have you learned about yourself through your experiences?
S.J.: We faced many problems during that time. We didn’t expect that once Saddam’s regime would fall that these people would form into gangs and start attacking people.

L.H.: Do you have a better idea of who was against her? The people who were after her?
S.J.: We have no contact with these people. They were gangs who were supported by Iraqi police, and they used to attack Iraqi people. One of the attackers said to us, “We are working with a huge network—and I don’t even know where this network ends or to whom it belongs.” They started to employ poor people to serve these gangs, because they started to support poor people financially, so they employed many people to work with them because of bad financial situations. The attackers were so savage and bad people. Every person who will kill his neighbor, his brother, his people—he is so bad because he did these acts.

L.H.: What could the United States be doing differently to improve the situation?
S.J.: I don’t know anything about politics. Since America exists everywhere in the world, I expect America can do many things to help improve the situation—I am sure of it. But how? I don’t know; I don’t have any idea. If America would start getting rid of the extremists, who are not Iraqis and who entered Iraq after 2003, everything may settle down. I mean the Iranians—the people from Iran.

L.H.: So you do see the Iranians as a threat?
S.J.: They [Iranians] have different thoughts, different extremists thoughts; they were strange from Iraqis. These acts did not use to occur in Iraq. It’s impossible for an Iraqi to be so savage toward another Iraqi. So I think these thoughts and acts were supported from Iran.

L.H.: People from the West only know what the media tells us. What could you say to help clarify for Western people what is really happening in Iraq?
S.J.: The Iraqis have to transfer, interpret these acts and what is going on—like this interview. Every Iraqi who suffered throughout theses previous years, and if he were to get such an interview, he may transfer what he did suffer, a lot could be transferred [conveyed] to other countries.

L.H.: What advice would you give to other refugees?
S.J.: We wished to any Iraqi refugee what I wish for myself—for every Iraqi person to be resettled, to be happy to live his life well. Not to be like we are here; we have chronic anxiety because we are not resettled here. We are only looking for resettlement—to be just resettled, whether here in Jordan or outside, because it’s very difficult for us to go back to Iraq.

L.H.: Are you able to work here?
S.J.: No we are not allowed to work here; it is not allowed. Even if we were to get the UNHCR registration, one of the requirements for this registration is that we do not work. We are only accepted here as refugees. The UN will help us to be resettled outside. None of us is allowed to work here.

L.H.: How do you support yourselves?
S.J.: We are not working, so some of our sisters [in Iraq] collect and save money for us. And we are Christians, so the Jordanian churches are supporting us. The churches are doing very good work or us. Even if we need some things, if any Iraqi family leaves, they [the churches] support us by transferring the things from the traveling family to us.

L.H.: Do you have other family members still living in Iraq?
S.J.: All of my family members left Iraq. Once a family leaves Iraq, they will start threatening another sister or another brother. So some of them are living in Jordan, others in Syria, none of them is living in Iraq.

L.H.: What is your sister doing, the one whose husband was killed?
S.J.: She is now here in Jordan, and she had an interview with the Canadian Embassy because her small daughter has Canadian citizenship and a Canadian passport, and they may leave for Canada, as soon as possible, they may leave. I thank god because of this. My brother in Turkey applied with UNHCR and he was accepted, and he will leave for America within a few days, through the UNHCR of Turkey. We are the only of the family who has stayed. The one who is living in Turkey, he will leave for America in a few days. The other is resettled in Syria, and we are still here. I am Syrian but I have lived in Iraq for a long time. So my other brother has resettled back in Syria.

L.H.: How do you spend your day?
S.H.: Doing housework. I can’t talk about this. I take care of my husband because he has a lot of chronic pain. And my sons are around me twenty-four hours a day because they are not able to study.

[MR. J. shows pictures and talks] This is the one who was killed, and this is her [my wife’s] sister, his wife. She was born in 1977; she is about 30 years old. This is his photo when he was killed—his skull when he was shot. This is her father during the grieving ceremony. This is in the church praying for him. This is the skull. This is his wife. I think I did well in taking these photos as evidence.

L.H.: May I take pictures of these photos?
S.J.: Yes. [They show the pictures and identify them]

L.H.: What will you do if you get the America?
S.J.: We are only looking only for resettlement. We are not able to wish for anything because we know nothing of this strange world. We are only looking for resettlement. Whatever we will face, we will be satisfied because we suffered so much in Iraq. We only want to be away from Iraq—this is our only wish.

L: What do you anticipate for your sons in America?
S: I will be very, very assured about my sons there [in America] because no one will follow them. They may start their studies again—them may have a good future there in America. Even if they start from zero, they will start a normal, regular life—not like what they suffered in Iraq.

I point at the 'M.'
Alex points at the 'M.'
Don LaVange snaps his shutter.

life in the can

Scott Abbott said...

damn, what a post!
michael, you're brilliance and passion never cease to amaze me.

and i too have been reading laura's blog. what stories she's recording!