Syriac Calligraphy

from a 2013 photo after a chemical weapons attack by the Assad government


                        “Love your children and have mercy on them.”

                                    from the Wasa’il


It must be warm in Syria in August.

The girls and boys

wear shorts & short sleeves. 

Two hours before the photo

gangly legs kicked soccer balls

   or wrestled

      or chased the neighbor’s dog.

Adhan temporarily bottled the laughter

until their exuberant shouts flew

into the dusty conflict of the morning.


Like letters on parchment

children’s bodies line the concrete floor

nuzzled close and neat, row after column.

            A calligraphy of bodies.

Spindly arms folded across skinny chests.

Lanky bodies lined up like pencils

            on the desk of truth.

The language of their calm faces erased,

replaced with a permanent repose

as if the palimpsest of death wished to write a beauty

more compelling than laughter.

Layers - Ramsey Mathews


by Ramsey Mathews


While working in film and television in Los Angeles, Ramsey always found time to read and write on the set. He earned an MFA in Poetry at Cal State University, Long Beach. He is now half way through a PhD in English and Creative Writing at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where he teaches composition and literature. You can find his photography at, Twitter (@dramapoet), or Tumblr (ramsey mathews). His poetry has appeared in Boaat Journal and San Pedro River Review among others.