Poetry - Issue 04 | April 2009

Three poems by Heather Derr-Smith

Walls of Byzantium

I go under the magenta blossoms of Judas Trees.
I still remember you. I’m no longer a pacifist.

There are red and white cylinders of Chestnuts,
Hanging like lit candles. They say it is painfully

Beautiful in April and May.
This is true all over the world.
God made spring for us as a test.

I barely got through customs. But I did.
I saw shoals of Tunny in the waters.
I went fishing from a boat.

One time the people made ships
From the wood of demolished houses
And the braided ropes of women’s hair.

I could step out on the back of the sea
And it would carry me.

It’s true. This city has been rebuilt for centuries. The walls keep going up.
I’m not afraid of war anymore.

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About the author

A visiting writer at Iowa State University, Heather Derr-Smith has published two books of poetry, Each End of the World (Main Street Rag Press, 2005) and The Bride Minaret (University of Akron Press, 2008). Derr-Smith has volunteered in a refugee camp in Gasinci, Croatia and has traveled to Damascus, Syria to interview Iraqi and Palestinian refugees. Her poems are influenced by multiple experiences and locations around the globe.

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