Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019


Photograph via Flickr by The Blackthorn Orphans

“Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.” ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape, New York Times, 2015

        The Amber Stones He Gave to Me

To think the carrot colored stones began from trees.
Dripped then hardened into amber.
Strychnine’s lobed petals inside.
Knots of pollen huddled inside a petal’s mouth.
My father smuggled the necklace out of Russia.  
Six stones attached to pewter oxidized into black metal.
It means the pewter contains lead.
It means do not try to clean away patina.
It means it protects, is valued, hangs from my neck.

        Her Real Name is Withheld

Fighters forced M. to swallow the pill that prevents the babies,
that made her sweeter.
They arrived at sunset, their privilege.
At 16, a poster of Springsteen was pasted on my door.
In the night, he told me I was beautiful.

        All I May Ever Know

I am not a Yazidi girl.
What can I know?
Grandmother told me stories of hiding. Her hair hung to her waist.  
It did not matter her father fought in the Czar’s army.  
On Saturday nights, soldiers sought out the Jewish girls.
Sometimes, she hid until morning.


Here, I have food, an extra bed.
When the sun sets,
I admire its yellow-orange arms.
A hamsa hangs in my daughter’s room.
It is valued, it protects.
I look for a way to talk about our life together.  
I buy lettuce and potatoes, then what is left?
A crack in the soul, and after the crack, what?
To sleep safely in the dark.