The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

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FEB 2021 Issue

from Except for This Unseen Thread

Ra’ad Abdulqadir. Photo provided by the author’s literary estate.
Ra’ad Abdulqadir. Photo provided by the author’s literary estate.


They just finished their work
and went to rest
now they’re thinking of outcomes
of prize money
of balls they have kicked
of waters they have dived into
of chains
they must think about all of this
with courage
regardless of regrets
they must return again
to the same mistake
and to the same disappointment
just as boldly

In Front of Stone Ovens

They stand in queues
solemn and proud
not speaking to each other
not turning around
waiting on a captivating moment
an enchanting moment
Someone has dropped a sun
like a coin from his hand
on which an ear of wheat is drawn
It’s rolling down the ground
People are moving around, in no order,
they’re making noise
The sun sets
in the fetid water
The ear fell
The stone ovens are now sealed
with red wax
The queues no more
the order very so


Mona Kareem

Mona Kareem is the author of three poetry collections, and most recently, the trilingual chapbook Femme Ghosts (Publication Studio). She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and is a Translator-in-Residence at Princeton University. Her translations include Octavia Butler’s Kindred into Arabic (Takween Publishing), and Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within (The Operating System), longlisted for the BTBA 2017 awards.

Ra’ad Abdulqadir

Ra’ad Abdulqadir (1953–2003) is a pioneer of the Iraqi prose poem, the author of five poetry collections, and a lifelong editor of Aqlam, Iraq’s leading literary magazine. Except for This Unseen Thread: Selected Poems (Ugly Duckling Presse) is his first collection in English translation.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

All Issues