November 25, 2006

A Poem plus little bits of usefulness

This poem is in the voice of the mother of a Palestinisn suicide bomber. I don't think she would agree that the preferred term "sacred explosion" is better, though in the New Yorker article from 2001 that I read the interviewees insisted upon it, saying that Islam forbids suicide but not this form of military operation, the use of "human bombs." Apparently there is no dearth of volunteers, or were none at the time of the start of the second Intifada, as many young men clamored to be picked for the next mission, though only a few were actually chosen, supposedly by Allah himself. In any event, though this is not a true story, some of the words spoken here are actual words quoted in the article from a Palestinian mother. Note that green birds on a purple sky is the symbol of the Palestinian martyr, a reference to the same green birds of Paradise. No political opinion is intended by the poem, except a condemnation of war and violence in all its forms, and a commentary on the effects on those left behind, specifically the mothers.


My son has flown in the bosom
of the green birds of Paradise
into the garden of Allah. I could not stop
the grindstone of fate from turning, his striving
in Allah’s cause was all. I knew
nothing. I did not know
he had become al shaheed al hayy, “the living
martyr,” until after he had died, after
those small emerald birds – strange happening!
how they flocked a green cloud
to perch on the roof opposite
for nearly an hour calling softly before
flying on to where he was no longer
only a shred of the clean shirt
I’d washed just the night before and a few pages
of his Koran left to identify him. You ask
am I happy that he has joined the martyrs?
You ask if I rejoice to be the mother
of a hero? I have lost my son
to a war as useless as all wars are useless, killing
as many of us as of them. Inshallah
he is at peace now with his God
and we will meet again in Paradise,
but had I known of his plans
I would have taken a blade, sliced open my heart
and crammed him deep inside.
I would have seamed it tight to keep him safe.
I would never let him go.

For a complete change of subject, here is a recipe for veggie patties that are quite good, though wholly invented by yours truly. They are meant to use Okara, the soybean residue left over after making soymilk, but you may substitute well drained and cooked, mashed beans of any sort, though it will affect the flavor. I would suggest well-cooked chickpeas or some kind of white beans. If you can get, soak, cook and mash soybeans, those of course would be best. Near East Falafel mix is the only one I know, and the one this recipe relies on. It may be that others would work, though you are on your own in terms of amounts if you do. I found this falafel mix at Stop and Shop in the rice section, next to the specialty and flavored rices.

Soybean Okara-Veggie burgers

Okara (or mashed cooked soybeans) 2 C
1 box NEAR EAST Falafel mix
1 ¼ C water
1-2 eggs
breadcrumbs, seasoned, enough to form mix into patties c. 1-2 C
sunflower seeds 1 ½ C or to taste
Adobo seasoning
Extra water

Mix all ingredients and let sit 10 min. Add more breadcrumbs as necessary. (If mixture has accidentally become too dry, add an extra egg and/or a small amount of water.) You can taste dough and add Adobo to taste. Form into patties by taking small ladle or ice cream scoop and measuring even amounts. Each patty should be the size of a small hamburger 2"- 3" diameter. Bake 350℉ for 15-20 minutes depending on size. Top should be slightly browned and crusty and inside hot but moist. May be served on a bun or with eggs for breakfast or brunch (delicious that way). And of course, you can eat it plain with your fingers, as I do!

Finally, something really strange but useful!
Uses for Bounce fabric softener

The US Postal service sent out a message to all letter
carriers to put a sheet of Bounce in their uniform pockets
to keep yellow jackets away. Use them all the time when
playing baseball and soccer. Use them when working outside.
It really works. The yellow jackets just veer
around you. And all this time you've just been putting
Bounce in the dryer!

It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them.

It also repels mice. Spread them around foundation areas, or
in trailers, cars that are sitting and it keeps mice from
entering your vehicle.

It takes the odor out of books and photo albums that don't
get opened too often.

Repels mosquitoes. Tie a sheet of Bounce through a belt loop
when outdoors during mosquito season.

Eliminates static electricity from your television (or
computer) screen. Since Bounce is designed to help eliminate static cling,
wipe your television screen with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust
from resettling

Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a sheet of

Freshen the air in your home. Place an individual sheet of
Bounce in a drawer or hang in the closet.

Put Bounce sheet in vacuum cleaner.

Prevent thread from tangling. Run a threaded needle through
sheet of Bounce before beginning to sew.

Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce
inside empty luggage before storing.

Freshen the air in your car. Place a sheet of Bounce under
the front seat.

Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a
pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The antistatic
agent apparently weakens the bond between the food.

Eliminate odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet of Bounce at
the bottom of the wastebasket.

Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce
will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.

Eliminate static electricity from Venetian blinds. Wipe the
blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resettling.

Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sand papering. A used sheet
of Bounce will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.

Eliminate odors in dirty laundry. Place an individual sheet
of Bounce at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper.

Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your
shoes or sneakers overnight.

Golfers put a Bounce sheet in their back pocket to keep the
bees away.

Put a Bounce sheet in your sleeping bag and tent before
folding and storing them. Keeps them smelling fresh.

Posted by pamwagg at November 25, 2006 10:11 AM



You don't need any help from me! You are clearly a talented and accomplished poet in your own right, with a voice and a style all your own. I loved the poem and wouldn't change a thing, wouldn't know how to advise you anyhow, seeing as you already know how to write and have developed your own way of writing. I feel it would be presumptuous of me, of anyone! Have you tried to publish? I think you should, if your poems are all this good, which I imagine they are. Try Oberlin's FIELD, which is highly selective but I think they'd like your style. Or look through Poet's Market for other magazines to's hard to know where to tell you as I myself have not tried to publish much...Again, you are a poet. You should have the confidence to call yourself one! Congratulations on a fine fine poem.


Posted by: Pamwagg at November 27, 2006 05:11 PM

NO NO NO, not okra but OKARA, the residue left over from making soy milk, and tofu. Use mashed soybeans. DO NOT USE OKRA, it will not work!!!! BD (Sorry for the confusion) Pam

Posted by: Pam at November 27, 2006 04:57 PM

mmm...i love okra!

Posted by: m at November 26, 2006 09:46 PM

Dear Pam,
Your poem is one of the most meaningful and touching compositions I have read in some time. I may be going out on a limb here, but it's right up there with "Forgiveness" on my list of favorites, and I believe that you know how much I revere that poem. The last two lines invaded my motherlove heart with such power. Frankly, this is the way I love to end anything I write.A memorable and beautifully understated ending remains with one's reader long after the poem's central theme has been forgotten, and in this work you have achieved that in spades.(This is just my opinion-it's not a generally recognized fact among weary English majors.) In simple terms, I love this poem. It hums my tune, it sings my song, it takes my breath away. (I have already used these words to illustrate something. They are mine, but you must picture me dancing about and singing the words in order to get the full effect.)
I echo Kate in saying that I will never again be caught without at least several sheets of Bounce upon my person. And to think that you have denied being a jack of all trades!
Lovingly, Paula
P.S. Roberta is a poet(new or of longstanding) of remarkable talent. Reprise of my little song and dance. Thank you, Roberta.

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at November 25, 2006 09:21 PM

Hello Pam,

This is one of the best poems you have ever written!

We must indeed co-exist, for the fate of the human race depends on it.

Alas, I'm not a cook or I'd try your veggie patties.

You are a role model to us all!


Posted by: Christina Bruni at November 25, 2006 09:07 PM

Pam, I can not access my email at work, so I hope it is alright if I just post my poem here. I wrote this after spending the day, taking pictures, with my significant other. It was written on Labor Day and she is my subject.

So here it goes---

As the universe winds around the divers and the webs

I feel a glance from a grasshopper eager to copy my every move

In attempts to capture the ever changing creature

I am denied its grandeous stare

As it dances through the milky weeds

I focus on my own frames

"Wait for me" it screams, as it continues idle

Buzzers buzz, but are drowned out by the dying shutter

Its pupil squeezes to find the last light of the laboring day

As it flows North to go South, it touches the moon with its gaze

Its lips gesture pain down every incline

Its rounded brow mimics the rock setting while the heron hunts

As it wanders to the entry its apendages weaken as it yearns for the end

Thank you for your time and I would appreciate any comments!!!

Thanks again,

Posted by: Roberta at November 25, 2006 03:58 PM

Don't forget to get the SCENTED kind! BD

Posted by: Me at November 25, 2006 01:53 PM

Hey Pam,

Thanks for the poem. Excellent. You really get inside the mother as she tells her tale and the language is so clear and clean. What a great idea to base a poem from the perspective of a mother who's lost her son, especially a son who has killed himself as a suicide bomber. And I agree with the mother, war is a horrible waste and if I were a mother I, too, would want to protect my child from it.

You've sold me, I'm going to get BOUNCE. That's amazing how much you can use it for.

Posted by: Kate K. at November 25, 2006 12:55 PM

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