D. H. Melhem 1

As a tribute to our late colleague, here are two poems from her last collection, followed by an appreciation by Robert Roth. The poems appeared in D. H. Melhem, Art and Politics / Politics and Art (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010), pages 59 and 23, respectively. ©Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher. – V.W.

Bombing Blues

It takes a special pain to sing the blues.
–Raymond R. Patterson, Elemental Blues

I think there is a massacre going on.
Yes, I think there is a massacre going on.
Small puffs of smoke are veiling
the bombers’ harm you’ve done.

You can’t hear any screaming
or any human cry
You can’t hear any curse or prayer.
Your plane is up too high.
The terror you’re inspiring
will haunt you by and by.
Will shame you by and by.

And we are up there with you
bought your speed and place
among the mighty minions
of violence and disgrace.
Bought your fiery station
in violence and disgrace.

Young people blow themselves up
to make their bodies speak.
Break up into ruddy sparks
to let their bodies speak.
They heard that right is mighty,
saw earth inherit the meek.

Pray to the spirit of Gandhi,
of Martin Luther King.
May all the gods of Mercy
steady each heart to sing
of justice, peace, and wisdom
laboring faith can bring.
Justice, peace, and wisdom
common love can bring.

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