Sebastian Koga

seb

Sebastian Koga (b. 1977) is a Romanian neurosurgeon, medical researcher, mountaineer, and poet. He lives in Virginia, USA with his wife Vaughan. Dr. Koga was born in Transylvania and was raised on an idyllic farm in southern Romania. He immigrated to America following the Romanian Revolution of 1989, and returned to Romania between 2000 and 2004 to lead a landmark neuroscience research project. His academic studies included several years spent in Japan, England, New Zealand and USA. While specialising in neurosurgery at the University of Virginia, he continued a lifelong interest in lyric poetry and poetry in translation, and writes in several languages, including English and Japanese. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Member of the Royal Society of Literature, and Honorary Fellow of the Romanian Academy of Medical Sciences.

dog fatwa

My brother awakens in Aleppo
to the armoured rooster of daybreak
and the shelled out carcass of night.

The water truck rolls without headlights,
slowed by the bodies in the road.
The driver drinks first, then whispers:

new fatwa warm off the lips of the imam
‘dogs may be eaten to survive’
God the Beneficent, the most Merciful

has made halal the donkey and the dog.
Rubbed with the salt of Mali and Tunis
everyone’s dog is eaten at our feast.

Killing my brother, killing, my brother says,
is a grand dance — but dying is purely
physiological, like defecation. But first we eat.

Leaving Aleppo

My foes taunt me, saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?” -Psalm 42

This is for you, Sūrīya!
Only the cedar coffin
made to measure,
sprinkled with hyssop
and whiter than snow,

shoes over-large,
and wobbling on the feet
that once ran circles
around the Pleiades
and the schoolyard.

Deep calls unto deep,
and the rage of living
to the greater rage of
carving a headstone
for your child.

At the noise of your waterfalls
the mortar shells pick
their tempo, and the widow
does her washing
with pierced palms.

To be human is to love —
and to kill,
what is that like, Iblis?
All your breakers and
your billows are gone over me.

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