A graduate of Skidmore College and Columbia University, Dawn Marar lives in New York’s Capital Region where she worked with social justice and human rights groups as a planner and community organizer. She travels widely and has lived in Manhattan, London and Amman.
She was a finalist in the 2016 Orison Anthology of Fiction & Poetry Awards, and winner of the 2016 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize. As a contest finalist, her work appears in the Chautauqua Literary Journal’s War and Peace Issue. Her poetry has been published in Up the River: A Journal of Poetry, Art & Photography; and Tribute to Orpheus 2. Her creative nonfiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has published short stories and nonfiction.
These poems are from Dawn’s first chapbook, Efflorescence, just released by Finishing Line Press. This collection of poems draws upon her experience as an American, woman, wife, mother, and activist. “On the Road to Damascus,” previously appeared in Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry. Dawn‘s work was a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry.
On the Road to Damascus
Traveling in a UN van I dreamed
of the days when that meant security.
Weighing the likelihood of a hijacking,
I regretted my desire to see John the Baptist’s
head. My throat tightened as we bounced
along the newly-paved road (bad shocks).
I stared straight ahead to Damascus,
north of Amman. The Jordanian capital,
hotter than Hades, harbored the relative safety
of my in-laws. The driver stopped where
Eastern amenities lead Western travelers
to recall disciple Paul’s rougher journey.
What am I doing, Lord, I whispered.
Looking over my shoulder, I spied
canvas bags tagged ‘Beirut.’ Diplomatic
pouches safer than any American.
Anticipating an explosion,
I prayed for safe passage.
A young Christian, I felt like a faux
VIP, acolyte of Joni’s hejira.
Our children stayed with Jiddo and Taytah
as I made pilgrimage. I waited for a remote control
device to go off. I would be no martyr. My death,
a footnote. The press would be told that I went
to Damascus to shop in the souk.
I stand, hear
in the US
As one mindless win
after another blows
I lift a fallen birch bark
cast off from the neighbor
woman’s tree crusted with snow.
in the bark—strafe—a Russian
fleet of bombers.
Camp tents huddle
in shadow of glittering
pines. The miserly sound of the win, din
in the winter sum
does not resound
in my backyard.
Witless is the sound
droning air. I, listless,
I made good on my threat to leave home, if Ronnie became president;
and married Hani in Amman, where never was a proclaimed president.
We honeymooned in Egypt, where Sadat was an acclaimed president.
I snagged my heel, rushing to Hani at the casino, as if he was a famed president.
We sailed on the Nile in a felucca near the Valley of the Kings and Queens, where
none buried were named president.
We’ve lived under one then another, American inflamed president.
The dawn of the Arab spring deposed Mubarak, the shamed president.
We won’t take our daughters to Egypt, under Sisi-nicknamed president.
Alexandria’s Library awaits, for Hillary became not our dame president.
The lure of camel at the Sphinx is great, now that Donnie became endgame