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Wednesday, April 27, 2016


by Peleg Held

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by reports that Mohammad Bashir al-Ajani and his son Elyas were murdered by the militant group Islamic State which had accused them of ‘apostasy’. The deliberate murder of civilians during an armed conflict is a war crime and both those who commit them and those who order them must be brought to justice. We call on all actors involved or with interests in this conflict to use all diplomatic means possible to ensure that no more civilians – including writers – are killed.” —Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

For Mohammed Bashir al-Aani executed with his son
outside Dier Ezzor in March 2016.

They tear at the strings
and a dew falls into the bright
of the lower skies.
I hear a singing under the blue:
cisterned voices,
thickening amber, welling new
in the combs behind dropped eyes.
There is a weaver this night—
working steady, working through,
weaving strands of the silenced,
binding many to the few.

Author's note: The title is taken from a line of Paul Celan's "Praise of Distance".

Peleg Held lives in Portland, Maine with his partner and his dog Emitt. There is also the semi-feral cat, Smudge. And a kid or two. pelegheld(at)