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Samuel Hazo Poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright Samuel Hazo founded and continues to direct the International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh, where he is also the McAnulty Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Duquesne University . He writes poetry of “immense intelligence, lyricism, and humanity,” with “perfect pitch” and “ever-varied grammatical attack.” Among his numerous poetry collections are The Holy Surprise of Right Now; AsThey Sail; Just Once, which received the Maurice English Poetry Award; and A Flight to Elsewhere. Hazo has also translated the work of several writers, including Denis de Rougemont, Nadia Tueni, and Adonis. A captain in the Marine Corps from 1950 to 1957, Hazo has been awarded nine honorary doctorates. In 1993, he was chosen as the first State Poet of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a post he held for ten years. Intifada Singly at first, then doubly, then slowly by the tens or twenties, then steadily on . . . Interviewed about the deathcount in Ramallah, one sergeant said, “We’ll kill them all, but we’ll never forgive them for making us do it.” Later he aimed his Uzi at a boy armed with a stone and a slingshot. One general claimed his soldiers fired only rubber-coated bullets. When asked about the difference to the dead, he frowned and shouted, 137 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 137 “Their leaders and parents use these children as human shields.” Despite the contradicting photographs, pundits and lobbyists concurred. After all, who could deny that boys with all their lives ahead of them would happily seek execution, that mothers loved to see their sons in open coffins, that choosing a brave death instead of a lifelong one was an option for fools? No one would claim that occupation to the occupied resembled daily suffocation. No one would add that suffocation or the fear of it begot a courage born of desperation. No one compared it to the fate of being locked in darkness in a stalled elevator underground. Like someone buried upright and alive, anyone trapped there would stop at nothing. 138 Samuel Hazo 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 138 September 11, 2001 1. The hawk seems almost napping in his glide. His arcs are perfect as geometry. His eyes hunger for something about to panic, something small and unaware. Higher by two thousand feet an airbus vectors for its port, its winglights aiming dead ahead like eyesight. The natural and scheduled worlds keep happening according to their rules. . . . “We interrupt this program. . . .” Inch by inch the interruption overrules both worlds, engulfing us like dustfall from a building in collapse. The day turns dark as an eclipse. We head for home as if to be assured that home is where we left it. 2. Before both towers drowned in their own dust, someone Samuel Hazo 139 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 139 downfloated from the hundredth floor. Then there were others—plunging, stepping off or diving in tandem, hand in hand, as if the sea or nets awaited them. “My God, people are jumping!” Of all the thousands there, we saw those few, just those, freefalling through the sky like flotsam from a blaze . . . Nightmares of impact crushed us. We slept like the doomed or drowned, then woke to oratory, vigils, valor, journalists declaring war and, snapping from aerials or poles, the furious clamor of flags. Just Words In Arabic a single word describes the very act of taking a position. Greeks pronounce three syllables to signify the sense of doom that all Greeks fear when things are going very well. As for the shameful ease we feel when bad news happens 140 Samuel Hazo 1CHARARA_pages_i-164.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:36 PM Page 140 to someone else, including friends? In Greek—one word. To designate a hose that funnels liquid fire down the turret of a tank in battle, the Germans speak one word. It’s three lines long but still one word. And as for John, Matthew, Mark and Luke? There’s not a surname in the lot. With just one name they match in memory the immortality of martyrs. The longer they’re dead, the more they live . . . I praise whatever mates perception with precision! It asks us only to be spare and make the most of least. It simplifies and lets each word sound final as a car door being shut but perfect...


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