Mohammed al-Maghout

They stripped me of my sword as a warrior
          my pen as a poet
          my brush as a painter
          and my guitar as a Gypsy


Farag Bayrakdar

Within every prison cell 
there’s a second cell 
the one: a cold geography 
the other: a burning history 
Yes, within every prison 
there’s a second prison 

None Other But Iraq

Mahmoud Darwish

I remember Al-Sayyab, hollering at the Gulf in vain:

“Iraq, Iraq, none other but Iraq …”

and answers only the echo. *

I remember Al-Sayyab … in this Sumerian space

a female vanquished the sterility of haze,

and bequeathed us homeland and exile together.

The Train Passed by

Mahmoud Darwish

Quickly, the train passed by.

I had been waiting

On the sidewalk

Travelers were rushing to their

Daily lives.... and I

Continued to wait

From afar, violins cry,

So  I am carried

By the edges of a cloud that

Cactus Forever

Mahmoud Darwish

Where are you taking me, Father?

In the direction of the wind, my son

...Departing from the plain, where

Bonaparte’s soldiers have built a hill to

Observe the shadows over the old wall in Acre,

The father says to his son:  Do not be afraid. Do not

Fear the whisper of bullets.

Three Poems

Ghada Samman

A Rebellious Owl

Why do I write? Perhaps because my alphabet

Avenges itself against the oppressors

Who try to shine their shoes with my inkwell

And this blue wine that just spilled upon my paper

Seems to me the alphabet’s blood


Lisa Suhair Mujaj

In the Old City, grocers scoop rice and wheat
From huge burlap sacks, pour grain into deep brass scales,
measure anise and cardamom and thyme.

When sun slips into the pans it's swept up
without charge, the way you don't pay for the fragrance
of coffee, zaatar's bright swirl of sumac.

Not like the mass of sorrow 
weighting the air beneath the odor of cumin,
that tips the scales in every reckoning.

This poem appeared in Al Jadid, Vol. 3, no. 12 (October 1996)

Copyright (c) 1996 by Al Jadid


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