Pandämonium: Fernweh, Wandertrieb Und Zugunruhe

Our experiences do not define us, yet we are nothing more than our past and our future. Compelled to make new mistakes and relive old ones.

To be content is to be unhappy. To idle is to die young. We desire change. Our instinct is to wander. I grow restless.

Time slips away as moments become shorter. Darkness deafens the fragile senses. The Silence is blinding.

Who knocks? Is it death? …Is it reality?

 

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The Arab Refugee

Ants gnaw his flesh
Crows peck his flesh
The Arab refugee nailed to the cross.

The Arab refugee
Begs and spends his nights in railway stations
Crying his eyes out.
And Jaffa is just a small label
On a box of oranges.

Stop knocking on my door
There’s no life left in me.
And Jaffa is just an orange label
It leaves the dead undisturbed.

They’ve sold the memory of Saladin
They’ve sold his horse and shield
They’ve sold the grave of refugees.

Who would buy an Arab refugee for a loaf of bread?
My blood is running dry
But you go on laughing.
I am Sinbad
I store my treasures in your children’s hearts.

Ants gnaw his flesh
Crows peck his flesh
The Arab refugee begging at your door.

-Abdul Wahab Al-Bayati

The Clock on the Wall

My city collapsed
The clock was still on the wall
Our neighborhood collapsed
The clock was still on the wall
The street collapsed
The clock was still on the wall
The square collapsed
The clock was still on the wall
The house collapsed
The clock was still on the wall
The wall collapsed
The clock
Ticked on

Samih Al-Qasim (Al Kassem)

The Fugitive

I dreamt I was a fugitive
Hiding in a forest.
The wolves in a distant country
Hounded me through black deserts and over rough hills.
My dear, our separation was torture.
I dreamt I was without a home,
Dying in an unknown city,
Dying alone, my love, without a home.

-Abdul Wahab Al-Bayati (Modern Poetry of the Arab World, translated by Abdullah al-Udhari)

Psalm 2

Now I find myself dried
Like trees growing out of books.
The wind is just a passing thing.
Shall I fight or shall I not fight?
That is not the question.
The important thing is to have a strong throat.
Shall I work or shall I not work?
That is not the question.
The important thing is to rest eight days a week
Palestine time.
Country, turning up in song and massacres,
Show me the source of death;
Is it the dagger or the lie?

Country, turning up in songs and massacres,
Why do I smuggle you from airport to airport
Like opium,
Invisible ink,
A radio transmitter?

I want to draw your shape,
You, scattered in files and surprises.
I want to draw your shape,
You, flying on shrapnel and birds’ wings.
I want to draw your shape
But heaven snatches my hand.
I want to draw your shape
You, trapped between the dagger and the wind.
I want to draw your shape
To find my shape in yours
And get blamed for being abstract,
For forging documents and photos,
You, trapped between the dagger and the wind.

Country, turning up in songs and massacres,
How could you be a dream, rob me of the thrill
And leave me like a stone?
Perhaps you are more sweet than a dream,
Perhaps you’re sweeter!

There isn;t a name in Arab history
I haven’t borrowed
To help me slip through your secret windows.
All the code names are kept
In air conditioned recruiting offices.
Will you accept my name —
My only code name —
Mahmoud Darwish?
The police and Carmel’s pines
Have whipped my real name
Off my skin.

Country, turning up in songs and massacres,
Show me the source of death;
Is it the dagger
Or the lie?

-Mahmoud Darwish (Modern Poetry of the Arab World, translated by Abdullah al-Udhari)

Some Mahmoud Darwish

The Passport

They didn’t recognize me.
The passport’s darkness
Erased the tones of my photograph.
They put my wound on show
For tourists who love collecting pictures.
They didn’t recognize me.
Don’t let my hand lose sunlight
For in its rays trees recognize me.
All the rain songs recognize me.
Don’t leave me pale as the moon.
All the birds followed
My hand to the barriers of a distant airport.
All the wheat fields
All the prisons
All the white graves
All the borders
All the waving handkerchiefs
All the dark eyes
All the eyes
Were with me
But they crossed them out of the passport.
Deprived of a name, of an identity,
In a land I tended with both hands?
Today Job’s voice rang throughout heaven:
Don’t test me again!
Venerable prophets,
Don’t ask the trees their names,
Don’t ask the valleys about their mother.
My face brandishes a sword of light
And my hand is the river’s spring.
The hearts of people are my nationality.
Take away my passport.

(Modern Poetry of the Arab World, translated by Abdullah al-Udhari)