Ruins

By 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 
the first: the presence of an image
the second: the absence of meaning 
And within every cell
a second cell
The first is the spitting image
of a tyrant 
The second . . . 
All of my sadness 
all of it 
is for you 
I don’t add a single syllable
I’ve hedged every bet 
I placed on a losing proposition 
I’ve placed every bet 
with destitution

This is an excerpt of a longer poem by Faraj Bayrakdar, a former political prisoner,  who spent 13 years in Syria’s prisons.The poem appeared in Al Jadid Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 37, (Fall 2001).  

Translated from the Arabic by Ben Bennani

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