Four Poems by Moayyad al-Rawi

Moayyad al-Rawi

The Sun Is Setting
A cloud in the head brought down the stars,
like a tent the darkness stood
as the lanterns lighted and dimmed,
wherever, and whenever they were meant to.
Perchance they’re operated by ghosts that you don’t see
with your eyes always shut,
entering and leaving cities
for scorched cities lacking radiance, 
leaving the houses and the alleys 
for the passers-by to roam, 
corpses stripped of their skins
without feet
After the quiet of years
After time had closed its exits before us,
we wanted to evoke the past
so that it would open for us a road to the old joy, 
but were prevented by the legacy of the axe on our sick hearts.
We have tried and are still trying, 
But our conversations were unable to strike a spark
To kindle the old fire.
At the end of the day
Once we extinguished the stars
We stood before the door with bent heads,
Our words the ruins of things and events
Burdening the space and scattering the old happiness.
Thus we parted in the darkness of exile.
She, as was her wont, went to the jungle
To tame the lions,
And I 
To the desert
To listen to the howling of the jackals
Words are fortified, rich in and of themselves,
they multiply and replicate if you want to generate meanings.
You are the lord of words that you narrate as you please, if you want:
The words are visible carved out in the rock.
The night, the stone, the trees and the murder victim.
The night is ghosts, thieves and murderers;
the stone builds a city overrun by epidemics
and bridges swept by the flood.
The city is afflicted with hunger and the plague,
the city of the poor,
the city of the thieves,
the city of gun-toting, hardened criminals,
where hatred roams.
Here you are in the presence of feebleness,
Your feasts are done. 
Standing before a rising wall, 
that blocks your exits.
What would you do in the absence of air,
amid the crowded anxieties and the coming illusions,
surrounded by darkness?
You’re a captive of repeated advice
with which you’re saddled.
Who would you expect to change words in you 
into false rituals?
Because the words
remain words
like an echo 
in a deep cavern.
*Poems from “Narration of the Singular,” Dar al Jamal (2015)
Translated from the Arabic by Fawaz Azem
These poems appeared in the current issue of Al Jadid, Vol. 23, No. 76, 2019.
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