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Two Poems by Banah al-Ghadbanah


My lover showed me the dawn. She showed me

the sunrise & the shape of the moon. I lit the sky

alive with morning praise. I sewed her pants carefully,

stretched my lizard body on the patio, and finally began the day.

*ninkarrak: Sumerian goddess of healing herbs. “The Lady who makes the broken up whole again.” Given the incantation bēlet balāti “Lady of Health.” She also the queen of rage who can make the earth quake.

ishtar remembers

bull, serpent, star & alien

annunaki, the wrath of

a great flood. a crack

in the underworld &

all hell is ripped

loose, the creatures who

lived in the caves

spat venom & conquered

the mountains again

& we

like a raging river like

a fleeing family on

the verge of an impossible

future we sung & rewound

what was not meant to

jump out, but the monsters

were already around us, such

lovely & dangerous beings.

we let go the gold, put

down our things, ululated

from the underground prisons,

at the holy festivals, under

the vast & velvet blanket

of night & we remembered

the voices without sounds

the holy spirits inside the ground

& for you we brought the

stars back down

*ishtar: Ishtar is the nonbinary Assyro-Babylonian goddess of love and war. Zhe enforced divine justice and descended as a fiery star upon the earth. In Assurbanipal’s Hymn to Ishtar of Nineveh, they write “Like Assur, she wears a beard and is clothed in brilliance.”


BANAH AL-GHADBANAH is a Syrian mermaid raised in the u.s. south. Zhe is the winner of the Diverse Voices Prize 2021 and zir first poetry collection, we are on this earth to be free, will be published in 2022 (Dzanc Books). Zhe holds a PhD in Ethnic Studies and looks at how Syrian women use creativity in the Syrian Revolution. You can find zir writing in Mizna, Poetry Northwest, the forthcoming anthology dream of the river (Jacar Press), Afghan Punk Magazine, 3asal mag, and scattered across the internet in pen names on other sites.


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