POETRY: Ghazal for James Foley
By Yago Cura:
I met Jim Foley in September of 1999; we were both incoming M.F.A. students in the U.M.A.S.S.-Amherst program: he in Fiction and I in Poetry. We were already voracious readers before we got to Amherst, but at Amherst we really tore into the 24-story library (the DuBois) and began to read more and more international authors. I remember Jim and I were very impacted by Jesus’ Son by Daniel Johnson, and of course his collection of poems, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium. Jim though had a penchant for Saramago and Beckett and Thomas Merton.
We (along with poets Luivette Resto and Ben Balthaser) took a class with Puerto-Rican poet, Martín Espada called, Poetry and the Political Imagination, that really shaped us as writers, readers, and thinkers. Taking this class became fundamental to the “education” I got at a school like UMASS-Amherst. Our program always purported to be apolitical in their aesthetic, and unassuming in their privilege, but we had to really jump through some hoops to take the class because of the internecine conflict between the graduate program and the Undergraduate English program.
Ghazal for James Foley
“Mr. [James] Foley converted to Islam soon after his capture and adopted the name Abu Hamza”—Oct. 25, 2014 N.Y. Times article, “The Horror Before the Beheadings”
Hard for me to believe Jimbo didn’t convert under duress.
Although, I have always known him spiritually curious.
Easier to believe he proved syrup at fangs of alien vampires
intent on making him pay, leaving us lot spiritually curious.
Jimbo adopts name Abu Hamza because Hamza’s famous
for riding into Battle of Badir with an ostrich feather in his turban. (How spiritually curious of him, no doubt!).
Hamza was a late convert to Islam; Jimbo came to journalism a seasoned teacher.
Both proved paladin interlopers, distinguished ball-busters of spirit: curious.
También, the manner in which both are cut down early in life, apenitas
after egress of civilians on H.D.M.I. proves too easy, of little spiritual curiosity.
Tell me Abu, how does an Abyssinian slave gamble on their manumission
by chucking a javelin into the abdomen of an O.G.-General, spiritually curious?
How does one roam into a sitch so egregiously far from Lake Winnipesaukee?
How does one prevent their liver from turning into jewelry of spiritual curiosities?
Jimbo picks Moe’s right-hand man (I’m talking about Hamza here) because Jimbo knows Gabriel only shows himself to deniers of emerald escalators, not the spiritually curious.
Tell me Abu, why should I forgive the rabid—the rabbled, wracked with graphic cabals?
Estos matadores en balaclavas tyranny the Just, pimp Justice, and claim spiritual curiosity.
Torture ain’t stop Jimbo programming: specialist lectures, tournaments of Risk, faux
wrestling matches between the captives. For what? Morale, and to not lose spirit and curiosity.
Abu is kindness performed with militance; Jimbo is witness subsumed with service.
Maybe together, they eradicate flags and shatter cisterns, dissuade countries to stand behind their spiritual curiosity.
Yago S. Cura is an educator, poet and librarian currently residing in Los Angeles. He runs Spicaresque and co-founded the online literary magazine Hinchas de Poesia. He was friends with James Foley. All images supplied by Mr. Cura.
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