Thursday, July 24, 2014


To Ahmad

Like an autumn, Tired of the heat.
Like a streetlamp, Bored of its corner.
Cry, In every tear, A star, a name, a pair of eyes.
Cry, For us, Those who have dried.

(Originally posted Aug. 4, 2005; re-posted July 24, 2006)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Watch Me

Watch me dig my hole again
Ever deeper
In it I will bury the whole world.

Watch me tear the sunshine
Once more
And stick it in your heart.

Watch me smear every smile
Off every face
Till nothing remains
But amalgamated lips.

Watch me drown again
And again
Laugh me all the way
To the bottom.

(Originally posted on Sept. 6, 2004; re-posted on July 24, 2006)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


That day it wasn't
Our teeth that got pulled out;
It was yours.
But you don't feel the pain yet;
It only starts to hurt when we're gone.

(Originally posted Aug. 27, 2004 and re-posted on July 24, 2006)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Breathing Corpse

Spare me your wars
Your naked assent
Spare me your frigid springs
Your empty highways
And irises glazed;
I have pains to last a generation
And I have sorrows galore.

Spare me your whines
Your cheap tragedies
Spare me your miseries
Your children and packaged lies
Spare me your hearts
Stuffed with apathy
Spare me your horrors
Off the clearance shelf.

Spare me my life
Tainted with yours
Spare me a shred of sanity
A word, a tear…
For my tears have dried
And my rage is boiling over.

Spare me a soul
An honest apology
A life filled with regret
For I bring back to your doorsteps
My dreams refunded
My fury stifled
And tantamount.

Spare me a shovel
A helping hand
Spare me the last dignity
Of burying my breathing corpse.

(Originally posted Apr. 4, 2003; re-posted on  July 24, 2006; former title: "Spare Me")

Sunday, July 20, 2014


2006 - Lebanon

My mother said,
They still looked beautiful
while they were picking them up
in pieces,
the children.

 2014 - Palestine

(Originally posted on August 01, 2006)


Here we go again...
Since I haven't been able to write much poetry since this whole nightmare started, I have been mostly translating/posting other people's words: old songs, e-mails, other bloggers' posts... Which made me think of recycling some of my older poetry, much of which was written after the death of my grandmother and around the beginning of the Iraq War, and which uncannily expresses much of the emotion I am choking on these days. Maybe it's because Iraq was a more distant subject for me than Lebanon/Palestine that I was able to voice it then... For the longest time afterwards I hated those poems; I thought they were too angry, too raw, too... But after reading them again today, I felt they voice this cry stuck in my throat quite satisfactorily. So, I have decided to post them again; some unedited, some quite revised...
(Posted originally on Monday, July 24, 2006)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

There’s No Forgetting (Sonata)

I have been aching for words to say it; but words are failing me again, and again, and again... Like the world failed Palestine, and Lebanon, and so many other places before... And in the end I just return to this haunting poem by Pablo Neruda, perhaps my favorite of his, and on which I based my thesis, "Memory for Forgetfulness”: Registering/Effacing the Memory of the Lebanese War, which has, at once, tragically come back to life and become laughably irrelevant...
Ask me where I have been
and I’ll tell you: “Things keep on happening.”
I must talk of the rubble that darkens the stones;
of the river’s duration, destroying itself;
I know only the things that the birds have abandoned,
or the sea behind me, or my sorrowing sister.
Why the distinctions of place? Why should day
follow day? Why must the blackness
of nighttime collect in our mouths? Why the dead?

If you question me: where have you come from, I must talk
___with things falling away,
artifacts tart to the taste,
great, cankering beasts, as often as not,
and my own inconsolable heart.

Those who cross over with us are no keepsakes,
nor the yellowing pigeon that sleeps in forgetfulness:
only the face with its tears,
the hands at our throats,
whatever the leafage dissevers:
the dark of an obsolete day,
a day that has tasted the grief in our blood.

Here are the violets, swallows—
all the things that delight us, the delicate tallies
that show in the lengthening train
through which pleasure and transience pass.

Here let us halt, in the teeth of a barrier:
useless to gnaw on the husks that the silence assembles.
For I come without answers:
see: the dying are legion,
legion, the breakwaters breached by the red of the sun,
the headpieces knocking the ship’s side,
the hands closing over their kisses,
and legion the things I would give to oblivion.

—Pablo Neruda
© Translation: 1974, Ben Belitt
Pablo Neruda, Five Decades: Poems 1925-1970
Publisher: Grove Press, New York, 1974
Hear this recited at Poetry International Festival Rotterdam, 2004
by Krip Yuso.

No Hay Olvido (Sonata)

Si me preguntáis en dónde he estado
debo decir "Sucede".
Debo de hablar del suelo que oscurecen las piedras,
del río que durando se destruye:
no sé sino las cosas que los pájaros pierden,
el mar dejado atrás, o mi hermana llorando.
Por qué tantas regiones, por qué un día
se junta con un día? Por qué una negra noche
se acumula en la boca? Por qué muertos?

Si me preguntáis de dónde vengo, tengo que conversar con
      cosas rotas,
con utensilios demasiado amargos,
con grandes bestias a menudo podridas
y con mi acongojado corazón.

No son recuerdos los que se han cruzado
ni es la paloma amarillenta que duerme en el olvido,
sino caras con lágrimas,
dedos en la garganta,
y lo que se desploma de las hojas:
la oscuridad de un día transcurrido,
de un día alimentado con nuestra triste sangre.

He aquí violetas, golondrinas,
todo cuanto nos gusta y aparece
en las dulces tarjetas de larga cola
por donde se pasean el tiempo y la dulzura.

Pero no penetremos más allá de esos dientes,
no mordamos las cáscaras que el silencio acumula,
porque no sé qué contestar:
hay tantos muertos,
y tantos malecones que el sol rojo partía,
y tantas cabezas que golpean los buques,
y tantas manos que han encerrado besos,
y tantas cosas que quiero olvidar.

—Pablo Neruda

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mahmoud Darwish: "On This Earth" محمود درويش: "على هذه الأرض

على هذه الأرض

:علَى هَذِهِ الأَرْض مَا يَسْتَحِقُّ الحَياةْ
تَرَدُّدُ إبريلَ
رَائِحَةُ الخُبْزِ فِي الفجْر
آراءُ امْرأَةٍ فِي الرِّجالِ
كِتَابَاتُ أَسْخِيْلِيوس
أوَّلُ الحُبِّ
عشبٌ عَلَى حجرٍ
أُمَّهاتٌ تَقِفْنَ عَلَى خَيْطِ نايٍ
وخوفُ الغُزَاةِ مِنَ الذِّكْرياتْ

:علَى هَذِهِ الأَرْض مَا يَسْتَحِقُّ الحَياةْ
نِهَايَةُ أَيلُولَ
سَيِّدَةٌ تترُكُ الأَرْبَعِينَ بِكَامِلِ مشْمِشِهَا
 ساعَةُ الشَّمْسِ فِي السَّجْنِ
غَيْمٌ يُقَلِّدُ سِرْباً مِنَ الكَائِنَاتِ
هُتَافَاتُ شَعْبٍ لِمَنْ يَصْعَدُونَ إلى حَتْفِهِمْ بَاسِمينَ
وَخَوْفُ الطُّغَاةِ مِنَ الأُغْنِيَاتْ

:علَى هَذِهِ الأَرْض مَا يَسْتَحِقُّ الحَياةْ
عَلَى هَذِهِ الأرضِ سَيَّدَةُ الأُرْضِ
أُمُّ البِدَايَاتِ أُمَّ النِّهَايَاتِ
كَانَتْ تُسَمَّى فِلِسْطِين
صَارَتْ تُسَمَّى فلسْطِين
 سَيِّدَتي: أَستحِقُّ، لأنَّكِ سيِّدَتِي، أَسْتَحِقُّ الحَيَاةْ
محمود درويش--

”.على هذه الأرض ما يستحق الحياة”
.مقطع  شهير من هذه القصيدة  لمحمود درويش منقوشة على أحد أسوار مخيم البقعة في الأردن

“On this earth there is that which deserves life.” 

The famous opening line of this poem by Mahmoud Darwish 

written on the wall of a Palestinian refugee camp in Baqa’a, Jordan.

On This Earth

"On this earth there is that which deserves life:
the recurrence of April,
the smell of bread at dawn,
the opinion of a woman in men,
the writings of Aeschylus,
the beginning of love,
moss on a stone,
mothers standing on a flute’s string,
and the invaders’ fear of memories.

On this earth there is that which deserves life:
the end of September,
a woman leaving forty in all her prime,
the hour of sun at prison,
clouds mimicking a flock of beings,
a people cheering those who ascend to their fate smiling,
and the tyrants’ fear of songs

On this earth there is that which deserves life:
On this earth there is the lady of the land,
The mother of beginnings, the mother of endings.
It used to be called Palestine, it will be called Palestine.
My lady: I deserve, because you are my lady, I deserve life."

--Mahmoud Darwish
(Translated by Ashraf Osman)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

'Tropical Lament'

"It rains so long and hard here, I'm remembering
All the rain of my childhood, the pearls
Of hail I'd hold in my hands
After a storm.

This rain isn't going to stop
Until it's made a moat around me,
A grave the shape of a ring.
_________________________This rain
Is falling now wherever she is, who survives me;
It's soaking her clothes through to the skin,
Which used to be all fire.

When will it finally drown me?
Sometimes, remembering her hips, I feel afraid.
Sometimes I'm afraid she's gone—
That memory and music are all that's left of her.

But I'm tired of the rain's dark harmony.
I'm tired of everybody telling me:
Lift yourself up, never go down!
Don't we maybe lift ourselves, going down?

And the rain keeps singing on this coast without a sea."

Joe Bolton

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Death Will Come" by Cesare Pavese

Death will come and will have your eyes—
this death that accompanies us
from morning till evening, unsleeping,
deaf, like an old remorse
or an absurd vice. Your eyes
will be a useless word,
a suppressed cry, a silence.
That’s what you see each morning
when alone with yourself you lean
toward the mirror. O precious hope,
that day we too will know
that you are life and you are nothingness. 
Death has a look for everyone.
Death will come and will have your eyes.
It will be like renouncing a vice,
like seeing a dead face reappear in the mirror,
like listening to a lip that’s shut.
We’ll go down into the maelstrom mute.

Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), a poet, novelist and critic, was a major Italian author of the 20th Century. "Death Will Come and Will Have Your Eyes" was among the poems found in his desk after his suicide. Considering the circumstances, it's strikingly haunting.

(Translated by Geoffrey Brock; reposted from Poem of the Week. You can find the original Italian text, "Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi," here.)