Friday, March 1, 2013

NWCU Sunday Book Talk - Every Seed of the Pomegranate

"Every seed of the Pomegranate must be eaten, because you can't tell which one comes from Paradise."

Almost every religion holds the pomegranate as a powerful symbol of humanity's fundamental beliefs and desires, of life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity. This rich fruit gives voice to our most abstract concepts, depth to our beliefs and fosters our hopes and dreams.

Dr. David Allen Sullivan PhD. Instructor of English and Film. PhD in English, MA and BA in English With Cabrillo College since 1996. In his experience at Cabrillo College, Sullivan interacted with veterans from the Iraq war, listened to their stories and delved into the human aspect of war. He realized that the worst wounds are the ones you cannot see and composed his book of poetry to express the emotional casualties of war.

In the Preface of his book, Sullivan states "I wrote these poems to help myself see beyond the simplistic labels of PTSD and jihadism, xenophobia and patriotism, and to imagine looking through others’ eyes. I hope they become part of the ongoing dialogue that is the only way to begin healing the wounds—physical, psychological, social, and cultural—we suffer from in both countries. Poetry can create opportunities for empathy and understanding; it is one way to re-see ourselves, and the ones we too often see as other."

It isn't a question of supporting or opposing war, rather it is a fundamental responsibility to attempt to understand our fellow human beings with open minds and compassion.

Just as war has many voices, Sullivan uses many voices in the composition of his work. These voices are subcategorized as American, Iraqi, Angel and the author, visually identified by their justification and formatting on the page.


I’m not your servant,
nor savior. The one I serve?
Our only master.
And though I incline
my wings to feather your face
I do it not to
please you, but the one
who sent me. If I did it
less reluctantly,
I’d be mistaking
the begotten for the one
who begets us all,
begets everything.
Love creates this world, sets it
spinning round; but love
of what’s created
would tie you to it, so death
would be a hateful,
unforgiving wall,
instead of a door back to
the room where love’s born.


Artificial limbs
float down under parachutes
to the Red Cross tents

where the maimed are housed.
As prosthetics arrow down
like rain-soaked pollen

refugees stagger
in the sun. Some wave crutches,
those with hands, hands.


When they first began
airdropping shoes to remote
Kurdish villages

the children hid, sure
it was another Sunni
booby-trapped gambit.

The second time through
they charged out pell-mell, thumbs
up for USA.

In their excitement
some got beaned with a pair
and rose, still laughing.


The boy without arms
kneels before the land mine, dis-
arms it with his teeth.


I have read of your
Persephone. She took six
pomegranate seeds

in her mouth, bit down
to release bright blood capsules
that stained lips and tongue.

The one who kept her
laughed, for she would be his bride
half of every year.

How to say? Sorrow
cuts us in two with sweetness.
Half the world is dead

to the other half.
Above us, mothers walk
beneath bare branches.

Individually, each poem creates a vivid experience for the reader. As a collection, the emotional bond with all viewpoints becomes palpable. It is not a surprise that many veterans and their families have found a cathartic relief and healing in reading. Likewise, those who stand outside of the combat zone and political bargaining gain in-depth understanding of the greatest human costs of war.

I'm Beth Winter and I thank you for your interest in Book Talk and David Sullivan's compelling work. A copy of Every Seed of the Pomegranate is available for download / Discussion will take place in the Facebook Group Event.

1 comment:

  1. I'm useless at Poetry and yet, I do realize the powerful impact that words can have on us.