“I don’t know why it’s still unclear
whether heaven and hell exist.
Do we need more evidence?
They lie right here—in our midst.
Heaven is standing on Mount Qasioun,
drinking Damascene scenes,
as the jasmine breeze
carries Qabbani’s verses
through trees of willow.
And Hell is only a four-hour ride
to Aleppo, where children’s cries
drown the roars of mortar bombs
until they lose their families,
their limbs and tongues.
Yes, hell persists,
right here in our midst.
And all we do to extinguish this hellfire
is sigh, shrug, like, and share.
What does this make of us?
Are we any better
than the gatekeepers of hell?”