Journey to Iraq 1 (I try to visit in my dreams and am stopped on the tarmac)

in the dream that got me fired
The plane was just a stomach,
I said, “eat me”
It insisted on retching

and language was like dry bread
at my throat.


we could just say it was the fault of the Security Clearance,
oh that agency is in the blood now,
lineage of martial-bureaucrat understanding,
lines tactical and quick …

LET’S say Iraq turns into a lifeboat

it’s a little country

the lifeboat needn’t be large …

it contains a stack of paintings,
stone tablets and manuscripts.
add Scheherazade’s stone hands.
no people, after all, this
was an imaginary place

the library colludes to have me believe
this country doesn’t exist,
garlands of holy books no longer even part carboniferous
when people ask me where are you from i’ll tell them
“i come from an imaginary country”
“i’m an ice pop made of frozen rosewater holding together thinly sliced tongues”


Noor Al-SamarraiNoor Al-Samarrai is a California-born poet and performer with Iraqi roots. She’s currently living in Amman, Jordan, where she is working on a book-length poetry project about life and love in mid-twentieth century Baghdad with the support of a Fulbright Creative Arts Grant. She believes that poetry is as much a relational and somatic practice as a literary one, and has had the pleasure of teaching and performing poetry to people of all ages and backgrounds. Her debut poetry collection, El Cerrito, is forthcoming in 2018 from Inside the Castle Press. You can follow her adventures at milkgirlblog, and listen to her music at dogmaw.bandcamp.