Saif Alsaegh

Saif Alsaegh  is a poet/writer from Baghdad, living in the United States. He is the author of a poetry collection called "Iraqi Headaches" published through Nouveau Nostalgia, 2013. He writes poetry, plays, and short stories. Alsaegh has preformed poetry in many places such as New York, Oklahoma, Montana, California and Pennsylvania. His work has been published in several publications.

When We Met (Issue 43)

Three Poems (Issue 41)

When We Met (May, 2014. Issue 43)

I am dead. I died six months ago. There was no hell, no heaven, just a place somewhere. A place where people can talk, maybe smile sometimes. I am Fatima, a 54 years old woman; I died six months ago in Baghdad. Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, or as my 20 years old son used to call it "Hell." My childhood in Baghdad was beautiful. Palm trees, the Tigress River, fresh dates and oranges. Very calm, nothing moves quickly. Not a lot of goals and achievements ... just living, simply living. I got married young. I had my only son, Ahmed, in my 20s. We had a nice family, a typical one.

I am dead. I died two months ago. There was no hell, no heaven, just a place somewhere. A place where people can talk, maybe smile sometimes. I am James. 36 years Sargent, in the United States Army. I died two months ago in Baghdad. I was born in Nashville. My childhood was warm and cozy just like Nashville's sun. The Music was heavenly. And the food was rich. Before I was deployed to Baghdad for service, I was living with my girlfriend and her child whom I loved dearly. We were a small happy family.

I hated Americans. I had my husband, my son Ahmed ... A peaceful family. One day, we were sitting watching our favorite TV show at night and we hear people yelling and breaking into our door.

"Put your hands behind your head" the American soldiers said. A lot of them just gathered around my son and my husband.

"What are your names," they were shouting. We didn't understand what they were saying. During that shouting time and my husband and son on the floor being stepped on by American soldiers, the electricity went off. One of the soldiers freaked out, pulled the trigger of his gun. And I heard a bullet coming through my body while I heard the other bullet coming through the body of my son, Ahmed. He died right away. I was injured. They took my husband with them, for no reason. I spent a month in the hospital and then I died. When the story hit the news, the Army in their report apologized and said that the attack on my family was a mistake. Ahmed’s screams are still echoing in my ears, blood everywhere, everywhere.

I hated Iraqis. When I was in Baghdad, I had the hope of going back home. To arms of my girlfriend, to being under the sky of HOME. But Iraqis took that away from me. We were driving to go to our mission in the suburbs of Baghdad when I heard, BOOOOM. I saw people running around me, Iraqi civilians and American soldiers. It was a crowded market. The last thing I heard was a fading voice: James, James, James...

In that "place" that is not heaven or hell, you talk to people. Some people make you laugh, some people remind you of home, and some make you think deeply about how short life is. I met millions of Iraqis who died over the years. Most of them died during the wars we had in the last 30 years. The Iran-Iraq War, the golf war, the Shia revolution, the 2003 war. Millions of them, pale faces trying to forget about what happened to them or their families and friends. Among those millions I met this American man named (James). He greeted me and said: "how long have you been here"? "Six months" I answered. We started talking. I didn't like it at the beginning. Whenever he said something about his childhood in the US or his girlfriend, I just saw my son's face; I saw my husband's picture naked in the prison.

In that "place" that is not heaven or hell, you talk to people. Some people make you laugh, some people remind you of home, and some make you think deeply about how short life is. I met millions of Americans, a lot of them died in a war zone, just like me. The British war, the Civil War, the Frist World War, the Second one, the Vietnam War, the Iraqi Wars ... millions of pale faces with the scars of sadness and the memories of bombings engraved on their faces. Among those Americans, I met this Iraqi woman named Fatima. When I asked where she was from and she answered Baghdad, the images of the explosion that took my life came back to me. All the dead bodies, the blood, my girlfriend back home... everything. I didn't like it and I did not like her either, but for some reason we kept talking.

Fatima: what did you think of the war that your government started on my people?
James: I was never a fan of wars? But you guys deserved it because you tried to kill my people.
Fatima: We never tried to kill anyone, the people are peaceful.
James: And the government was evil.
Fatima: Well the people are not the government. You know … my son died in Iraq. And my death followed shortly after the attack where American soldiers came to our house and killed us. And you know what they said; they said it was a mistake.
James: Well I died in Iraq too.
Fatima: You were with the army?
James: Yes, and one day we were driving in Baghdad and we died because of an explosion that killed me and buddies.

During that we both started screaming at each other with hatred. Everything seemed far away, the millions of dead people around us, the images of my son and husband, everything was far away, the clearness was only in our screams at each other. But while screaming loudly at James, I started seeing images of his girlfriend and family and how sad they were because of his death. Then images of my son, then I started thinking that both of us are victims of a stupid war between two stupid governments. My screaming started to fade away and I started crying.

We were screaming loudly at each other. Everything seemed far away. Dead people around us seemed to be dispersed. The images of my girlfriend and family seemed far away. Just clear screaming. I started to see images of Fatima's son and husband. My screaming started to fade away and I was thinking about one thing with tears falling down on my face ... WE ARE VICTIMS, both us are victims of a stupid war between two stupid governments.

Hatred started to leave my heart while I was hugging James.

Hatred started to leave my heart while I was hugging Fatima.

Table of Contents

Three Poems (August, 2013. Issue 41)

Under the Sun

Engrave your fingertips with tattoos
Of the smell of war
Don't seek triumph,
You're the one whose children will die
With the disease of breathing

So nothing will change,
You're the one whose prayers will be heard
By the routine of the city

Gaze at the dark billboards
Remember your beloved mother;
The corner of the street,
You're the one whose heart is colder
Than the stories of the bible

Write your melancholic novel
Talk about the absurdity of the kingdom's future
About the political Ideology of the foxes
And the human harmony,
You're the one whose philosophy
Is like the snoring of God

Read your daily newspapers
Burn the oddity of life
With the malady of tobacco,
You're the one who will end
Smiling under the sun.

A Filthy City

The City is filthy
people walking with bottles of gin,
in circles.

Tall buildings masturbating
on the history of the ancient battles.
men of three faces
women with no lipstick.

Black parties
photographs of dying couples
all eyes illuminating
all souls are naked.

Libraries filled with smoke
paved roads

immigrants grocery stores
eating the lonely smiles of the children.


Breathing is dangerous.

Hell is here, in our brains.

Airplanes are always sad

And we are very alone in this world.


Better than music
better than fire
like the misty mountains at sunset
words of dead poets.

Happiness generates emptiness,
Jesus said.

Mother Mary was not a virgin

History is a meth

And I'm not the man of God anymore.

Random scenes:
in a bar
burning the illusion of existence.

Drunk men under a bridge
creating their own heaven.

A father telling his daughter
how sad she will grow up to be.

O City filled with filth
Bottles of gin and people walking in circles
wishing they were dead ...

I want to tell you:
I'm just like you.
I'm not sad,
I'm not dead.
I am just trying to find eternity in my reflection.


(To Baghdad ... where I died many times)


The sky is vomiting dying infants


Baby, cover me with your eyelashes


I'm intoxicated with gunpowder


All your old people are swollen with insanity


The mothers are sacrificing their children to the sun


Fire doesn't kill me anymore


Another report says: we are going to die soon


I leave my gun to a dead body in the river


I go hide under the ruins of my house
Smoke my last cigarette
Shoot my dream in the head.

Table of Contents

The Legendary