In art history class
My late brother Sam placed
On the overhead a photo
He’d taken of a small shack
In the middle of Death Valley
On which somebody had
Painted in white the word “It.”
Sam, filled with young-man
Resolve, declared to the full hall
That he and only he
Had found “It.” Everyone applauded.
I, thirty years later and
Filled with fear and angst,
Declare to humankind
That I have found “nothingness.”
I know this. It’s not in my mind.
It’s here in Qatar just across
The Persian Gulf from Iran. Not that I
Dislike Iran as does my government
Which distrusts any ancient culture
Whose women do not readily play
With its soldiers. Thousands are
Stationed just down the road
From Al Ruwais—or what I call
Nothingness—where they await
An official change in policy.
Don’t confuse this searing
Surface mining town with Hell.
Al Ruwais has decent hummus
With flat bread and cucumbers, a few
Children, a Shisha bar, some palm trees,
Open-pit grinding and crushing machines,
Chutes and sifters. Awash with
Powdery-white sand and minerals, Al Ruwais
Is the explosion of a trillion bones:
Know that this is what it is
And you will know nothingness.
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 poetry forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry and 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, Gulf Stream, Faces in the Crowds (anthology, Tokyo), New Delta Review, Maverick Magazine, The Journal (England), Writer’s 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 in Asia as well as NGO volunteer work. Currently, he lives in California, USA.