The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Kevin Dobbs



Under the blown out cinema on
Ahmed Bin Khalifa Street

The boy, about eight, legs
Gone below the knees,

Isn’t bleeding much
Because a fire that flashed

From the parlor cauterized
The smoking stumps. He stares,

Silent, at the marquee
That says, Hugo, now

Hanging and swinging by a
Tin strip. His mother is at his side now.

On her knees, bloody abaya hood
Turned down to her shoulders,

She looks around for his legs.
The boy says, MaMa, MaMa

And holds her abaya tight.
An old man, on his knees, too,

Is pleading with her in
Arabic. I assume he’s telling her

That her son’s legs are gone.
A small crowd quickly disperses

As an ambulance skids to the curb.
The boy is gently loaded onto a gurney

But his mother is left behind for now
Because she has tipped over, dead.



Kevin Dobbs



Tanyi and I assume the baby sparrow’s a girl
So we’ve given her the name, Lily.
She fell to the back patio
From her nest, tail feathers

Pulled. We bought a small cage
Now on the window ledge
Where her mother can feed her
And give flying lessons, fluttering

To the patio wall and back
As Lily tries, too, only tangling her wings
In the cage rods. I recall
Another baby sparrow,

1962, with my sister, Dana, on the other side
Of the world in Silverado Canyon,
Our mother away for a week already
With a police detective.

Our stomachs distending
Tarantulas were everywhere
And we wanted to eat them
But their leg twitching made us dizzy.

We were too weak
To chase anything else. The baby sparrow
Waddled right up to us as we sat
On the shack’s wobbly front stoop. It looked

Like Lily. We shoved a stick
Through its body and watched it die.
Over a single gas burner in back of the shack
Its feathers flashed. There wasn’t much meat

But we ate the soft bones, too. I admit
I’m falling for Lily. In the evening
She drifts off in the warmth of my hand.
She trusts me. Tanyi says it’s, like, good Karma.



Kevin Dobbs

On Bosphorus Bridge When an Earthquake Happens


One of hundreds
Of fishermen with a line
Over the rail

Wears a 70’s Elvis Presley wig
With long sideburns.
His high-collared, white shirt is

Open down to his belly
And his red slacks are flared
Over sequined-white

Dance shoes. I’m shooting
A video of him.
A cook from a restaurant

Below the bridge
Buys his large pail of Bluefish.
Bonito, and Horse Mackerel.

The cook smiles at me as if he
Knows why I’m shooting.
Suddenly the bridge

Starts to shake; it’s an earthquake,
Common in Istanbul:
Some fishing poles whip over

The rail and into the Bosphorus.
Pails of fish shimmy across
The walkway. The cook drops

To his knees and grimaces.
The man in the Elvis wig
Tightens the nylon rope

That holds his pole to the rail, turns
Toward the cook and me
And tries to balance himself,

He appears to be dancing.
The more he tries to find balance,
The better he dances.




KEVIN DOBBS has lived in the USA, Japan, China, the UAE, and Qatar. He’s published poetry, fiction, and essays, internationally, in literary journals and anthologies. With recent poetry in Painted bride Quarterly and Interlitq (The International Literary Quarterly), he’s placed poems in Chelsea, New York Quarterly, Carolina Quarterly, Poet Lore, Sou’wester (The International Literary Quarterly), Gulf Stream, Faces in the Crowds (anthology, Tokyo), New Delta Review, Maverick Magazine, The Journal (England), Forum, Florida Review, etc. His fiction and essays have appeared in Raritan: a Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, Sou’wester, Beloit Fiction Journal, Bluestem (formerly Karamu), and many more. Besides writing, Kevin is a university professor and was involved for many years in labor and civil rights activities as well as NGO volunteer work. Currently, he lives in California, USA.



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