20+ Best Nizar Qabbani Poems You Should Read Right Now

Nizar Tawfiq Qabbani was a Syrian diplomat, poet, writer and publisher. His poetic style combines simplicity and elegance in exploring themes of love, eroticism, feminism, religion…

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Famous Nizar Qabbani poems

Raise Me More Love…

raise me more love… raise me
my prettiest fits of madness
O’ dagger’s journey… in my flesh
and knife’s plunge…
sink me further my lady…
the sea calls me
add to me more death …
perhaps as death slays me… I’m revived
your body is my map…
the world’s map no longer concerns me…
I am the oldest capital of sadness…
and my wound a Pharaonic engraving
my pain…. extends like an oil patch
from Beirut… to China…
my pain… a caravan…dispatched
by the Caliphs of ‘A’Chaam’… to China…
in the seventh century of the ‘Birth’…
and lost in a dragon’s mouth…
bird of my heart… ‘naysani’
O’ sand of the sea, and forests of olives
O’ taste of snow, and taste of fire…
my heathen flavor, and insight
I feel scared of the unknown… shelter me
I feel scared of the darkness… embrace me
I feel cold… cover me up
tell me children stories…
rest beside me…
Chant to me…
since from the start of creation
I’ve been searching for a homeland to my forehead…
for a woman’s hair…
that writes me on the walls… then erases me…
for a woman’s love… to take me
to the borders of the sun… and throws me…
from a woman’s lip… as she makes me
like dust of powdered gold…
shine of my life. my fan
my lantern. declaration of my orchards
stretch me a bridge with the scent of oranges…
and place me like an ivory comb…
in the darkness of your hair… then forget me
I am a drop of water… ambivalent
remaining in the notebook of October
your love crushes me…
like a mad horse from the Caucasus throwing me under its hoofs…
and gargles with the water of my eyes…
add to me more fury… add to me
O’ prettiest fits of my madness
for your sake I set free my women
and effaced my birth certificate
and cut all my arteries…

Words

He lets me listen, when he moves me,
Words are not like other words
He takes me, from under my arms
He plants me, in a distant cloud
And the black rain in my eyes
Falls in torrents, torrents
He carries me with him, he carries me
To an evening of perfumed balconies

And I am like a child in his hands
Like a feather carried by the wind
He carries for me seven moons in his hands
and a bundle of songs
He gives me sun, he gives me summer
and flocks of swallows
He tells me that I am his treasure
And that I am equal to thousands of stars
And that I am treasure, and that I am
more beautiful than he has seen of paintings
He tells me things that make me dizzy
that make me forget the dance and the steps

Words…which overturn my history
which make me a woman…in seconds
He builds castles of fantasies
which I live in…for seconds…
And I return…I return to my table
Nothing with me…
Nothing with me…except words

The Wrathful

O pupils of Gaza . .
Teach us . . .
A little of what you have
For we have forgotten . . .
Teach us . .
To be men
For we have men . .
dough they become . . .
Teach us . .
How the rocks become
in the children’s hands,
precious diamond . .
How it becomes
The child’s bicycle, a mine
And the silk ribbon . .
An ambush . .
How the feeding bottle nipple . .
If detained not
Turns into a knife . . . .
O pupils of Gaza
Care not . .
about our broadcasts . .
And hear us not . .
Strike . .
Strike . . .
With all your powers
And firmly in your hands take matters
And ask us not . .
We the people of arithmetic . .
And of addition . .
And of subtraction . .
Your wars do carry on
And abstain from us . .
We’re the deserters
from the service,
Your ropes do bring
And hang us . . .
We’re mortals . .
Who possess not tombs
And orphans . .
who possess not masters
We kept already to our rooms . .
And we asked you
To fight the dragon . .
We’ve diminished, before you
A thousand century . .
And you’ve grown
-Within a month-Centuries . .
O pupils of Gaza . .
Return not . .
To our writings . .
And read us not..
We’re your fathers . .
Do resemble us not . .
We’re your idols . .
Do worship us not . .
We engage in
Political lies . .
And repression . .
And we build graves . .
And jails . .
Liberate us . .
From the fear problem in us . .
And expel
The opium from our heads . .
Teach us . .
The art of adherence to the Land,
And leave not . .
The Messiah saddened . .
O our beloved children
Salam . .
May Allah render your day
Jasmine . . .
From the cracks of ruined earth
You emerged forth
And planted in our wound
Musk rose . .
This is the revolution of notebooks . .
And ink . .
Do become on the lips
melodies . .
Shower us . .
Heroism, and pride
And from our ugliness wash us
Wash us . .
Fear neither Moses. .
Nor Moses’ spell . .
And ready yourself
To harvest the olives
Verily this Jewish age
is an illusion . .
That shall collapse . .
Albeit sureness we possess . . .
O madmen of Gaza . .
A thousand welcome . . .
in madmen,
If they liberate us
Verily the age of political reason
has long bygone . . .
Do teach us madness . . .

Damascus, What Are You Doing To Me?

1
My voice rings out, this time, from Damascus
It rings out from the house of my mother and father
In Sham. The geography of my body changes.
The cells of my blood become green.
My alphabet is green.
In Sham. A new mouth emerges for my mouth
A new voice emerges for my voice
And my fingers
Become a tribe

2
I return to Damascus
Riding on the backs of clouds
Riding the two most beautiful horses in the world
The horse of passion.
The horse of poetry.
I return after sixty years
To search for my umbilical cord,
For the Damascene barber who circumcised me,
For the midwife who tossed me in the basin under the bed
And received a gold lira from my father,
She left our house
On that day in March of 1923
Her hands stained with the blood of the poem…

3
I return to the womb in which I was formed . . .
To the first book I read in it . . .
To the first woman who taught me
The geography of love . . .
And the geography of women . . .

4
I return
After my limbs have been strewn across all the continents
And my cough has been scattered in all the hotels
After my mother’s sheets scented with laurel soap
I have found no other bed to sleep on . . .
And after the “bride” of oil and thyme
That she would roll up for me
No longer does any other ‘bride’ in the world please me
And after the quince jam she would make with her own hands
I am no longer enthusiastic about breakfast in the morning
And after the blackberry drink that she would make
No other wine intoxicates me . . .

5
I enter the courtyard of the Umayyad Mosque
And greet everyone in it
Corner to . . . corner
Tile to . . . tile
Dove to . . . dove
I wander in the gardens of Kufi script
And pluck beautiful flowers of God’s words
And hear with my eye the voice of the mosaics
And the music of agate prayer beads
A state of revelation and rapture overtakes me,
So I climb the steps of the first minaret that encounters me
Calling:
“Come to the jasmine”
“Come to the jasmine”

6
Returning to you
Stained by the rains of my longing
Returning to fill my pockets
With nuts, green plums, and green almonds
Returning to my oyster shell
Returning to my birth bed
For the fountains of Versailles
Are no compensation for the Fountain Café
And Les Halles in Paris
Is no compensation for the Friday market
And Buckingham Palace in London
Is no compensation for Azem Palace
And the pigeons of San Marco in Venice
Are no more blessed than the doves in the Umayyad Mosque
And Napoleon’s tomb in Les Invalides
Is no more glorious than the tomb of Salah al-Din Al-Ayyubi…

7
I wander in the narrow alleys of Damascus.
Behind the windows, honeyed eyes awake
And greet me . . .
The stars wear their gold bracelets
And greet me
And the pigeons alight from their towers
And greet me
And the clean Shami cats come out
Who were born with us . . .
Grew up with us . . .
And married with us . . .
To greet me . . .

8
I immerse myself in the Buzurriya Souq
Set a sail in a cloud of spices
Clouds of cloves
And cinnamon . . .
And camomile . . .
I perform ablutions in rose water once.
And in the water of passion many times . . .
And I forget—while in the Souq al-‘Attarine—
All the concoctions of Nina Ricci . . .
And Coco Chanel . . .
What are you doing to me Damascus?
How have you changed my culture? My aesthetic taste?
For I have been made to forget the ringing of cups of licorice
The piano concerto of Rachmaninoff . . .
How do the gardens of Sham transform me?
For I have become the first conductor in the world
That leads an orchestra from a willow tree!!

9
I have come to you . . .
From the history of the Damascene rose
That condenses the history of perfume . . .
From the memory of al-Mutanabbi
That condenses the history of poetry . . .
I have come to you . . .
From the blossoms of bitter orange . . .
And the dahlia . . .
And the narcissus . . .
And the ‘nice boy’ . . .
That first taught me drawing . . .
I have come to you . . .
From the laughter of Shami women
That first taught me music . . .
And the beginning of adolesence
From the spouts of our alley
That first taught me crying
And from my mother’s prayer rug
That first taught me
The path to God . . .

10
I open the drawers of memory
One . . . then another
I remember my father . . .
Coming out of his workshop on Mu’awiya Alley
I remember the horse-drawn carts . . .
And the sellers of prickly pears . . .
And the cafés of al-Rubwa
That nearly—after five flasks of ‘araq—
Fall into the river
I remember the colored towels
As they dance on the door of Hammam al-Khayyatin
As if they were celebrating their national holiday.
I remember the Damascene houses
With their copper doorknobs
And their ceilings decorated with glazed tiles
And their interior courtyards
That remind you of descriptions of heaven . . .

11
The Damascene House
Is beyond the architectural text
The design of our homes . . .
Is based on an emotional foundation
For every house leans . . . on the hip of another
And every balcony . . .
Extends its hand to another facing it
Damascene houses are loving houses . . .
They greet one another in the morning . . .
And exchange visits . . .
Secretly—at night . . .

12
When I was a diplomat in Britain
Thirty years ago
My mother would send letters at the beginning of Spring
Inside each letter . . .
A bundle of tarragon . . .
And when the English suspected my letters
They took them to the laboratory
And turned them over to Scotland Yard
And explosives experts.
And when they grew weary of me . . . and my tarragon
They would ask: Tell us, by god . . .
What is the name of this magical herb that has made us dizzy?
Is it a talisman?
Medicine?
A secret code?
What is it called in English?
I said to them: It’s difficult for me to explain…
For tarragon is a language that only the gardens of Sham speak
It is our sacred herb . . .
Our perfumed eloquence
And if your great poet Shakespeare had known of tarragon
His plays would have been better . . .
In brief . . .
My mother is a wonderful woman . . . she loves me greatly . . .
And whenever she missed me
She would send me a bunch of tarragon . . .
Because for her, tarragon is the emotional equivalent
To the words: my darling . . .
And when the English didn’t understand one word of my poetic argument . . .
They gave me back my tarragon and closed the investigation . . .

13
From Khan Asad Basha
Abu Khalil al-Qabbani emerges . . .
In his damask robe . . .
And his brocaded turban . . .
And his eyes haunted with questions . . .
Like Hamlet’s
He attempts to present an avant-garde play
But they demand Karagoz’s tent . . .
He tries to present a text from Shakespeare
They ask him about the news of al-Zir . . .
He tries to find a single female voice
To sing with him . . .
“Oh That of Sham”
They load up their Ottoman rifles,
And fire into every rose tree
That sings professionally . . .
He tries to find a single woman
To repeat after him:
“Oh bird of birds, oh dove”
They unsheathe their knives
And slaughter all the descendents of doves . . .
And all the descendents of women . . .
After a hundred years . . .
Damascus apologized to Abu Khalil al-Qabbani
And they erected a magnificent theater in his name.

14
I put on the jubbah of Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-Arabi
I descend from the peak of Mt. Qassiun
Carrying for the children of the city . . .
Peaches
Pomegranates
And sesame halawa . . .
And for its women . . .
Necklaces of turquoise . . .
And poems of love . . .
I enter . . .
A long tunnel of sparrows
Gillyflowers . . .
Hibiscus . . .
Clustered jasmine . . .
And I enter the questions of perfume . . .
And my schoolbag is lost from me
And the copper lunch case . . .
In which I used to carry my food . . .
And the blue beads
That my mother used to hang on my chest
So People of Sham
He among you who finds me . . .
let him return me to Umm Mu’ataz
And God’s reward will be his
I am your green sparrow . . . People of Sham
So he among you who finds me . . .
let him feed me a grain of wheat . . .
I am your Damascene rose . . . People of Sham
So he among you who finds me . . .
let him place me in the first vase . . .
I am your mad poet . . . People of Sham
So he among you who sees me . . .
let him take a souvenir photograph of me
Before I recover from my enchanting insanity . . .
I am your fugitive moon . . . People of Sham
So he among you who sees me . . .
Let him donate to me a bed . . . and a wool blanket . . .
Because I haven’t slept for centuries

We Are Accused Of Terrorism

We are accused of terrorism
If we dare to write about the remains of a homeland
That is scattered in pieces and in decay
In decadence and disarray
About a homeland that is searching for a place
And about a nation that no longer has a face

About a homeland that has nothing left of its great ancient verse
But that of wailing and eulogy

About a homeland that has nothing in its horizons
Of freedoms of different types and ideology

About a homeland that forbids us from buying a newspaper
Or listen to anything
About a homeland where all birds are always not allowed to sing
About a homeland that out of horror, its writers are using invisible ink

About a homeland that resembles poetry in our country
Improvised, imported, loose and of no boundaries
Of foreign tongue and soul
Detached from Man and Land, ignoring their plight as a whole

About a homeland to the negotiating table moves
Without a dignity or shoes

About a homeland
That no more has steadfast men
With only women therein

Bitterness is in our mouthsin our talkin our eyes
Will draught also plague our souls as a legacy passed to us
from ancient times?

Our nation has nobody left, even the less glorified
No one to say ‘NO’ in the face of those who gave up our
homebread and butter
Turning our colorful history into a circus

We have not a single honest poem
That has not lost its virginity in a ruler’s Harem

We grew accustomed to humiliation
Then what is left of Man
If he is comfortable with that?

I search the books of history
For men of greatness to deliver us from darkness
To save our women from fires’ brutality

I search for men of yesterday
But all I find is frightened cats
Fearing for their souls
From the authority of rats

Are we hit by national blindness
Or are we suffering from color blindness

We are accused of terrorism
If we refuse to perish
Under Israeli tyranny
That is hampering our unity
Our history
Our Bible and our Quran
Our prophets’ land
If that is our sin and crime
Then terrorism is fine

We are accused of terrorism
If we refuse to be wiped out
By barbarians, the Mongols or the Jews
If we choose to stone the fragile security council
Which was sacked by the king of caesuras

We are accused of terrorism
If we refuse to negotiate the wolf
And reach out for a whore

America is fighting the cultures of Man
Because it lacks one
And against the civilizations because it needs one
It is a gigantic structure but without a wall

We are accused of terrorism
If we refuse current times
Where America the arrogant the mighty the rich
Became a sworn interpreter of Hebrew.

Verse

Friends
The old word is dead.
The old books are dead.
Our speech with holes like worn-out shoes is dead.
Dead is the mind that led to defeat.

2
Our poetry has gone sour.
Women’s hair, nights, curtains and sofas
Have gone sour.
Everything has gone sour.

3
My grieved country,
In a flash
You changed me from a poet who wrote love poems
To a poet who writes with a knife

4
What we feel is beyond words:
We should be ashamed of our poems.

5
Stirred by Oriental bombast,
By boastful swaggering that never killed a fly,
By the fiddle and the drum,
We went to war,
And lost.

6
Our shouting is louder than our actions,
Our swords are taller than us,
This is our tragedy.

7
In short
We wear the cape of civilisation
But our souls live in the stone age

8
You dont win a war
With a reed and a flute.

9
Our impatience
Cost us fifty thousand new tents.

10
Dont curse heaven
If it abandons you,
Dont curse circumstances,
God gives victory to whom He wishes
God is not a blacksmith to beat swords.

11
It’s painful to listen to the news in the morning
It’s painful to listen to the barking of dogs.

12
Our enemies did not cross our borders
They crept through our weaknesses like ants.

13
Five thousand years
Growing beards
In our caves.
Our currency is unknown,
Our eyes are a haven for flies.
Friends,
Smash the doors,
Wash your brains,
Wash your clothes.
Friends,
Read a book,
Write a book,
Grow words, pomegranates and grapes,
Sail to the country of fog and snow.
Nobody knows you exist in caves.
People take you for a breed of mongrels.

14
We are a thick-skinned people
With empty souls.
We spend our days practicing witchcraft,
Playing chess and sleeping.
Are we the ‘Nation by which God blessed mankind’?

15
Our desert oil could have become
Daggers of flame and fire.
We’re a disgrace to our noble ancestors:
We let our oil flow through the toes of whores.

16
We run wildly through the streets
Dragging people with ropes,
Smashing windows and locks.
We praise like frogs,
Turn midgets into heroes,
And heroes into scum:
We never stop and think.
In mosques
We crouch idly,
Write poems,
Proverbs,
Beg God for victory
Over our enemy

17
If i knew I’d come to no harm,
And could see the Sultan,
This is what i would say:
‘Sultan,
Your wild dogs have torn my clothes
Your spies hound me
Their eyes hound me
Their noses hound me
Their feet hound me
They hound me like Fate
Interrogate my wife
And take down the name of my friends.
Sultan,
When I came close to your walls
and talked about my pains,
Your soldiers beat me with their boots,
Forced me to eat my shoes.
Sultan,
You lost two wars,
Sultan,
Half of our people are without tongues,
What’s the use of a poeple without tongues?
Half of our people
Are trapped like ants and rats
Between walls.’
If i knew I’d come to no harm
I’d tell him:
‘You lost two wars
You lost touch with children.’

18
If we hadn’t buried our unity
If we hadn’t ripped its young body with bayonets
If it had stayed in our eyes
The dogs wouldn’t have savaged our flesh.

19
We do not want an angry generation
To plough the sky
To blow up history
To blow up our thoughts.
We want a new generation
That does not forgive mistakes
That does not bend.
We want a generation of giants.

20
Arab children,
Corn ears of the future,
You will break our chains,
Kill the opium in our heads,
Kill the illusions.
Arab children,
Don’t read about our suffocated generation,
We are a hopeless case.
We are as worthless as a water-melon rind.
Dont read about us,
Dont ape us,
Dont accept us,
Dont accept our ideas,
We are a nation of crooks and jugglers.
Arab children,
Spring rain,
Corn ears of the future,
You are the generation
That will overcome defeat.

I Am With Terrorism

We are accused of terrorism:
if we defended rose and woman
and the mighty verse …
and the blueness of sky …
A dominion .. nothing left therein…
No water, no air ..
No tent, no camel,
and not even dark Arabica coffee!!

We are accused of terrorism:
if we defended with guts
the hair of Balqis
and the lips of Maysun
if we defended Hind, and Da`d
Lubna and Rabab ..
and the stream of Kohl
coming down from their lashes like the verses of revelation.
You will not find with me
a secret poem
or a secret logos
or books I put behind doors.
I do not even have one poem
walking down the street, wearing veil.

We are accused of terrorism:
if we wrote about the ruins of a homeland
torn, weak …
a homeland with no address
and an nation with no names

I seek the remnants of a homeland
none of its grand poems is left
except the bemoans of Khansa.

I seek a dominion in whose horizons
no freedom can be found
red .. blue or yellow.

A homeland forbidding us from bying a newspaper
or listening to the news.
A dominion wherein birds are forbidden
from chirping.
A homeland wherein, out of terror [ru`b],
its writers got accustomed to write about
nothing.
A homeland, in the likeness of poetry in our lands:
It is vain talk,
no rhythm,
imported
Ajam, with a crooked face and tongue:
No beginning
No end
No relation with people’s worry
mother earth
and the crisis of man.

A dominion …
going to peace talks
with no honor
no shoe.

A homeland,
men peed in their pans ..
women are those left to defend honor.

Salt in our eyes
Salt in our lips
Salt in our words
Can the self carry such dryness?
An inheritance we got from the barren Qahtan?
In our nation, no Mu`awiya, and no Abu Sufiyan
No one is left to say ‘NO’
and face the quitters
they gave up our houses, our bread and our [olive] oil.
They transformed our bright history into a mediocre store.

In our lives, no poem is left,
since we lost our chastity in the bed of the Sultan.

They got accustomed to us, the humbled.
What is left to man
when all that remains
is disgrace.

I seek in the books of history
Ussamah ibn al-Munqith
Uqba ibn Nafi Omar, and Hamzah and Khalid, driving his flocks conquering the Shem. I seek a Mutasim Billah
Saving women from the cruelty of rape
and the fire.

I seek latter days men
All I can see is frightened cats
Scared for their own souls, from
the sultanship of mice.

Is this an overwhelming national blindness?
Are we blind to colors?

We are accused of terrorism
If we refuse to die
with Israel’s bulldozers
tearing our land
tearing our history
tearing our Evangelium
tearing our Koran
tearing the graves of our prophets
If this was our sin,
then, lo, how beautiful terrorism is?

We are accused of terrorism
if we refused to be effaced
by the hands of the Mogul, Jews and Barbarians
if we throw a stone
at the glass of the the Security Council
after the Ceasar of Ceasars got a hold of it.

We are accused of terrorism
if we refuse to negociate with the wolf
and shake the hand with a whore
America
Against the cultures of the peoples
with no culture
Against the civilizations of the civilized
with no civilization
America
a mighty edifice
with no walls!

We are accused of terrorism:
if we refused an era
America became
the foolish, the rich, the mighty
translated, sworn
in Hebrew.

We are accused of terrorism:
if we throw a rose
to Jerusalem
to al-Khalil
to Ghazza
to an-Nasirah
if we took bread and water
to beleaguered Troy.

We are accused of terrorism:
if we raised our voices against
the regionalists of our leaders.
All changed their rides:
from Unionists
to Brokers.

If we committed the heinous crime of culture
if we revolted against the orders of the grand caliph
and the seat of the caliphate
If we read jurisprudence or politics
If we recalled God
and read verse al-Fat-h

[that Chapter of Conquest]

.
If we listened to the Friday sermon
then we are well-established in the art of terrorism

We are accused of terrorism
if we defended land
and the honor of dust
if we revolted against the rape of people
and our rape
if we defended the last palm trees in our desert
the last stars in our sky
the last syllabi of our names
the last milk in our mothers’ bosoms
if this was our sin
how beautiful is terrorism.

I am with terrorism
if it is able to save me
from the immigrants from Russia
Romania, Hungaria, and Poland

They settled in Palestine
set foot on our shoulders
to steal the minarets of al-Quds
and the door of Aqsa
to steal the arabesques
and the domes.

I am with terrorism
if it will free the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth,
and the virgin, Meriam Betula
and the holy city
from the ambassadors of death and desolation

Yesteryear
The nationalist street was fervent
like a wild horse.
The rivers were abundant with the spirit of youth.

But after Olso,
we no longer had teeth:
we are now a blind and lost people.

We are accused of terrorism:
if we defended with full-force
our poetic heritage
our national wall
our rosy civilization
the culture of flutes in our mountains
and the mirrors displaying blackened eyes.

We are accused of terrorism:
if we defended what we wrote
El azure of our sea
and the aroma of ink
if we defended the freedom of the word
and the holiness of books

I am with terrorism
if it is able to free a people
from tyrants and tyranny
if it is able to save man from the cruelty of man
to return lemon, olive tree, and bird to the South of Lebanon
and the smile back to Golan

I am with terrorism
if it will save me
from the Caesar of Yehuda
and the Caesar of Rome

I am with terrorism
as long as this new world order
is shared
between America and Israel
half-half

I am with terrorism
with all my poetry
with all my words
and all my teeth
as long as this new world
is in the hands of a butcher.

I am with terrorism
if the U.S. Senate
enacts judgment
decrees reward and punishment

I am with Irhab [terrorism]
as long this new world order
hates the smell of A`rab.

I am with terrorism
as long as the new world order
wants to slaughter my off-spring.
and send them to dogs.

For all this
I raise my voice high:
I am with terrorism
I am with terrorism
I am with terrorism …

The Face Of Qana

The face of Qana
Pale, like that of Jesus
and the sea breeze of April…
Rains of blood.. and tears..
2

They entered Qana stepping on our charred bodies
Raising a Nazi flag
in the lands of the South
and rehearsing its stormy chapters
Hitler cremated them in the gas chambers
and they came after him to burn us
Hitler kicked them out of Eastern Europe
and they kicked us out of our lands
3

They entered Qana
Like hungry wolves
Putting to fire the house of the Messiah
Stepping on the dress of Hussain
and the dear land of the South
4

Blasted Wheat, Olive-trees and Tobacco
and the melodies of the nightingale
Blasted Cadmus in his bark
Blasted sea and the gulls
Blasted even hospitals
even nursing moms
and schoolboys
Blasted the beauty of the Southern women
and murdered the gardens of the honeyed eyes
5

We saw the tears in Ali’s eyes
We heard his voice as he prayed
under the rain of bloody skies
6

Who ever will write about the history of Qana
Will inscribe in his parchments
This was the second Karbala
7

Qana unveiled what was hidden
We saw America
Wearing the old coat of a Jewish Rabbi
Leading the slaughter
Blasting our children for no reason
Blasting our wives for no reason
Blasting our trees for no reason
Blasting our thoughts for no reason
Has it been decreed in her constitution,
She, America, mistress of the world,
In Hebrew .. that she should humble us al-Arab?
8

Has it been decreed that each time a ruler in America
wants to win the presidency that he should kill us ..
We al Arab?
9

We waited for one Arab to come
pull this thorny prick from our necks
We waited for single Qureishite
A single Hashemite
A single Don Quixote
A single local hero, for whom they did not shave the moustache
We waited for a Khalid .. Tariq .. or Antara
We were eaten chatter (while engaged in vain talk)
They sent a fax
We read its text
after paying tribute
and the end of the slaughter
10

What does Israel fear from our cries?
What does she fear from our faxes?
The Jihad of the fax is the weakest of Jihads
It is a single text we write
for all the martyrs who left
and all the martyrs those who will come
11

What does Israel fear from Ibn al-Muqaffa’?
Jarir and .. Farazdaq?
And Khansa throwing her poems at the gates of the cemetery
What does she fear if we burn tires
Sign communiqués
And destroy shops
And she knows that we have never been kings of war
But were kings of chatters
12

What does Israel fear
from the beating of the drums
the tearing of clothes
and the scratching of cheeks
What does she fear
when she hears
the stories of `Ad and Thamud?
13

We are in national comma
We did not receive
Since the times of conquest
a single mail
14

We are a people of made of dough
The more Israel increases in her killing and terrorism
the more we increase in idleness and coldness
15

A Smothering Dominion
A regional dialect that increases in ugliness
and a green union that grows in isolation
Summer trees, growing barren
And borders .. whenever the whim strikes
erase other borders
16

Israel should slaughter us, and why not?
She should erase Hisham, Ziyad and ar-Rashid, and why not?
[Why not?] and the Banu Taghlab lusting after their women
[Why not?] and Banu Mazen lusting after their slave boys
[Why not?] and Banu Adnan dropping their trousers to their knees
debating .. necking and .. the lips!
17

What should Israel fear from some of al-Arab
When they became Yehuda???

The Hasteners

The last walls of shame fell,
And we rejoiced…
And we danced…
And we were blessed with the signing of the peace of the cowards…
Nothing terrifies us any more.
And nothing shames us.
For the veins of pride have dried within us.

Fell…
-For the fiftieth time-our virginity…
Without being shaken…or crying…
Or being terrified with the sight of blood…
We entered the age of haste…
And stood in lines, like sheep before the guillotine
We ran…and panted..
And raced to kiss the boots of the murderers..

For fifty years they starved our children
And at the end of the fast, they threw to us…
An onion..

Grenada fell
-For the fiftieth time-
From the Arabs’ hands.
History fell from the Arabs’ hands.
The pillars of the spirit fell…and the branches of the tribe…
All the songs of heroism fell…
Seville fell…
Antioch fell…
`Ammoriah fell.
Hittin fell without a fight.
Mary fell in the hands of the militias
And there is no man to rescue the heavenly symbol
And there is no manliness…

The last of our favorites fell
In the hands of the Romans, then what are we defending?
Not a single concubine remains in our palace…
Who makes coffee… and sex…
Then what are we defending??

No more remains in our hands…
A single Andulus that we possess.
They stole the doors,
And the walls,
And the wives, and the children,
And the olives, and the oil,
And the streets’ cobbles.
They stole Jesus, son of Mary,
While he was still a suckling.
They stole from us the memory of the lemons…
And the apricots… and the mint.
And the lanterns of the mosques…

They left in our hands a can of sardines
Named (Gaza)…
A dried bone called (Jericho)
An inn called Palestine,
Without a roof and without pillars…
They left us a body without bones
And a hand without fingers…

There remain no ruins over which we cry
How can a nation cry…
From whom they took away the tears??

After this secret flirtation, in Oslo
We came out barren…
They granted us a homeland smaller than a grain of wheat…
A homeland we swallow without water
Like pills of aspirin!!…

After fifty years…
We sit now, on the destroyed land.
We have no shelter… like thousands of dogs!!…

After fifty years…
We do not find a homeland to dwell in
Except the mirage.
It is not a reconciliation…
That reconciliation which, like a dagger, was thrust into us…
It is an act of rape!!..

What use is the haste?
What use is the haste?
When the conscience of the people remains alive
Like the fuse of a bomb…
All the signatures of Oslo will not equal
A mustard seed!!…

How we dreamed of a green peace.
And a white crescent.
And a blue sea.
And spread sails…
And all of a sudden we found ourselves
In a dung heap!!..

Who will ask them
About the peace of the cowards??
Not the peace of the strong and able.
Who will ask them??
About the peace of selling by installments,
And renting by installments…
And the deals…
And the merchants… and the exploiters?
Who will ask them?
About the peace of the dead…
They silenced the street…
And assassinated all questions…
And all the questioners…

And we were married without love…
To the female who one day ate our children…
And chewed our livers…
We took her on a honeymoon.
And we drank… and we danced…
And we remembered all that we retain of the love poetry.
Then we begot-unfortunately-retarded children
They have the form of frogs…
And we were expelled to the sidewalks of sorrow,
without a country to embrace…
Or a child!!

There was no Arab dancing at the wedding
Or Arab food.
Or Arab singing.
Or Arab shame
The sons of the country were absent from the wedding parade.

Half of the dowry was in dollars…
The diamond ring was in dollars…
The court clerk’s fee was in dollars…
The wedding cake was a gift from America…
And the wedding spread, and the flowers, and the candles,
And the Marines’ music…
All were made in America.

The wedding was finished… and Palestine was not present at the
rejoicing.
But she saw her picture broadcasted over all channels…
And saw her tear traversing the ocean’s waves…
Towards Chicago… and Jersey… and Miami
While like a slaughtered bird she cried
This wedding is not my wedding…
This dress is not my dress…
This shame is not my shame…
Never… America…
Never… America…
Never… America…

Between Us

Between us
twenty years of age
between your lips and my lips
when they meet and stay
the years collapse
the glass of a whole life shatters.

The day I met you I tore up
all my maps
an my prophecies
like an Arab stallion I smelled the rain
of you
before it wet me
heard the pulse of your voice
before you spoke
undid your hair with my hands
before you had braided it

There is nothing I can do
nothing you can do
what can the wound do
with the knife on the way to it?

Your eyes are like a night of rain
in which ships are sinking
and all I wrote is forgotten
In mirrors there is no memory.

God how is it that we surrender
to love giving it the keys to our city
carrying candles to it and incense
falling down at its feet asking
to be forgiven
Why do we look for it and endure
all that it does to us
all that it does to us?

Woman in whose voice
silver and wine mingle
in the rains
From the mirrors of your knees
the day begins its journey
life puts out to sea

I knew when I said
I love you
that I was inventing a new alphabet
for a city where no one could read
that I was saying my poems
in an empty theater
and pouring my wine
for those who could not
taste it.

When God gave you to me
I felt that He had loaded
everything my way
and unsaid all His sacred books.

Who are you
woman entering my life like a dagger
mild as the eyes of a rabbit
soft as the skin of a plum
pure as strings of jasmine
innocent as children’s bibs
and devouring like words?

Your love threw me down
in a land of wonder
it ambushed me like the scent
of a woman stepping into an elevator
it surprised me
in a coffee bar
sitting over a poem
I forgot the poem
It surprised me
reading the lines in my palm
I forgot my palm
It dropped on me like a blind deaf
wildfowl
its feathers became tangled with mine
its cries were twisted with mine

It surprised me
as I sat on my suitcase
waiting for the train of days
I forgot the days
I traveled with you
to the land of wonder

Your image is engraved
on the face of my watch
It is engraved on each of the hands
It is etched on the weeks
months years
My time is no longer mine
it is you

Fragments From Notes On The Book Of Defeat

If an audience could be arranged
and also my safe return
this is what I’d tell the Sultan
This is what he’d learn:
O Sultan, my master, if my clothes
are ripped and torn
it is because your dogs with claws
are allowed to tear me.
And your informers every day are those
who dog my heels, each step
unavoidable as fate.
They interrogate my wife, at length,
and list each friend’s name.
Your soldiers kick and beat me,
force me to eat from my shoes,
because I dare approach these walls
for an audience with you.
You have lost two wars
and no one tells you why.
Half your people have no tongues.
What good their unheard sigh?
The other half, within these walls,
run like rabbits and ants,
silently inside.
If I were given safety
from the Sultan’s armed guards
I would say, O Sultan,
the reason you’ve lost wars twice
was because you’ve been walled in from
mankind’s cause and voice.

Damascus, What Are You Doing To Me?

Lovers Card

My voice rings out, this time, from Damascus
It rings out from the house of my mother and father
In Sham. The geography of my body changes.
The cells of my blood become green.
My alphabet is green.
In Sham. A new mouth emerges for my mouth
A new voice emerges for my voice
And my fingers
Become a tribe

return to Damascus
Riding on the backs of clouds
Riding the two most beautiful horses in the world
The horse of passion.
The horse of poetry.
I return after sixty years
To search for my umbilical cord,
For the Damascene barber who circumcised me,
For the midwife who tossed me in the basin under the bed
And received a gold lira from my father,
She left our house
On that day in March of 1923
Her hands stained with the blood of the poem…

I return to the womb in which I was formed . . .
To the first book I read in it . . .
To the first woman who taught me
The geography of love . . .
And the geography of women . . .

I return
After my limbs have been strewn across all the continents
And my cough has been scattered in all the hotels
After my mother’s sheets scented with laurel soap
I have found no other bed to sleep on . . .
And after the “bride” of oil and thyme
That she would roll up for me
No longer does any other ‘bride’ in the world please me
And after the quince jam she would make with her own hands
I am no longer enthusiastic about breakfast in the morning
And after the blackberry drink that she would make
No other wine intoxicates me . . .

I enter the courtyard of the Umayyad Mosque
And greet everyone in it
Corner to . . . corner
Tile to . . . tile
Dove to . . . dove
I wander in the gardens of Kufi script
And pluck beautiful flowers of God’s words
And hear with my eye the voice of the mosaics
And the music of agate prayer beads
A state of revelation and rapture overtakes me,
So I climb the steps of the first minaret that encounters me
Calling:
“Come to the jasmine”
“Come to the jasmine”

Returning to you
Stained by the rains of my longing
Returning to fill my pockets
With nuts, green plums, and green almonds
Returning to my oyster shell
Returning to my birth bed
For the fountains of Versailles
Are no compensation for the Fountain Café
And Les Halles in Paris
Is no compensation for the Friday market
And Buckingham Palace in London
Is no compensation for Azem Palace
And the pigeons of San Marco in Venice
Are no more blessed than the doves in the Umayyad Mosque
And Napoleon’s tomb in Les Invalides
Is no more glorious than the tomb of Salah al-Din Al-Ayyubi…

I wander in the narrow alleys of Damascus.
Behind the windows, honeyed eyes awake
And greet me . . .
The stars wear their gold bracelets
And greet me
And the pigeons alight from their towers
And greet me
And the clean Shami cats come out
Who were born with us . . .
Grew up with us . . .
And married with us . . .
To greet me . . .

I immerse myself in the Buzurriya Souq
Set a sail in a cloud of spices
Clouds of cloves
And cinnamon . . .
And camomile . . .
I perform ablutions in rose water once.
And in the water of passion many times . . .
And I forget—while in the Souq al-‘Attarine—
All the concoctions of Nina Ricci . . .
And Coco Chanel . . .
What are you doing to me Damascus?
How have you changed my culture? My aesthetic taste?
For I have been made to forget the ringing of cups of licorice
The piano concerto of Rachmaninoff . . .
How do the gardens of Sham transform me?
For I have become the first conductor in the world
That leads an orchestra from a willow tree!!

I have come to you . . .
From the history of the Damascene rose
That condenses the history of perfume . . .
From the memory of al-Mutanabbi
That condenses the history of poetry . . .
I have come to you . . .
From the blossoms of bitter orange . . .
And the dahlia . . .
And the narcissus . . .
And the ‘nice boy’ . . .
That first taught me drawing . . .
I have come to you . . .
From the laughter of Shami women
That first taught me music . . .
And the beginning of adolesence
From the spouts of our alley
That first taught me crying
And from my mother’s prayer rug
That first taught me
The path to God . . .

I open the drawers of memory
One . . . then another
I remember my father . . .
Coming out of his workshop on Mu’awiya Alley
I remember the horse-drawn carts . . .
And the sellers of prickly pears . . .
And the cafés of al-Rubwa
That nearly—after five flasks of ‘araq—
Fall into the river
I remember the colored towels
As they dance on the door of Hammam al-Khayyatin
As if they were celebrating their national holiday.
I remember the Damascene houses
With their copper doorknobs
And their ceilings decorated with glazed tiles
And their interior courtyards
That remind you of descriptions of heaven . . .

The Damascene House
Is beyond the architectural text
The design of our homes . . .
Is based on an emotional foundation
For every house leans . . . on the hip of another
And every balcony . . .
Extends its hand to another facing it
Damascene houses are loving houses . . .
They greet one another in the morning . . .
And exchange visits . . .
Secretly—at night . . .

When I was a diplomat in Britain
Thirty years ago
My mother would send letters at the beginning of Spring
Inside each letter . . .
A bundle of tarragon . . .
And when the English suspected my letters
They took them to the laboratory
And turned them over to Scotland Yard
And explosives experts.
And when they grew weary of me . . . and my tarragon
They would ask: Tell us, by god . . .
What is the name of this magical herb that has made us dizzy?
Is it a talisman?
Medicine?
A secret code?
What is it called in English?
I said to them: It’s difficult for me to explain…
For tarragon is a language that only the gardens of Sham speak
It is our sacred herb . . .
Our perfumed eloquence
And if your great poet Shakespeare had known of tarragon
His plays would have been better . . .
In brief . . .
My mother is a wonderful woman . . . she loves me greatly . . .
And whenever she missed me
She would send me a bunch of tarragon . . .
Because for her, tarragon is the emotional equivalent
To the words: my darling . . .
And when the English didn’t understand one word of my poetic argument . . .
They gave me back my tarragon and closed the investigation . . .

Beirut, The Mistress Of The World

Beirut, the Mistress of the World
We confess before the One God
That we were envious of you
That your beauty hurt us
We confess now
That we’ve maltreated and misunderstood you
And we had no mercy and didn’t excuse you
And we offered you a dagger in place of flowers!
We confess before the fair God
That we injured you, alas; we tired you
That we vexed you and made you cry
And we burdened you with our insurrections

O Beirut
The world without you won’t suffice us
We now realize your roots are deep inside us,
We now realize what offence we’ve perpetrated
Rise from under the rubble
Like a flower of Almond in April
Get over your sorrow
Since revolution grows in the wounds of grief
Rise in honor of the forests,
Rise in honor of the rivers
Rise in honor of humankind
Rise, O Beirut!

My Angry Cat

You’re repeating yourself
for the twentieth time.
Is there another man in my life?
Yes. Yes. What did you think?
Even graveyards have visitors.
There are, my dear sir,
a lot of men out there,
and no garden is ever devoid of birds.
You’re just an experience I had,
and here I am,
tired and bored from this experience,
out from under your spell.
I’m cured of all
my weakness and gullibility.
Niceties do, after all, always end.
You love me!
There you go again,
dredging up all that ancient history.
And since when did you ever show
the slightest interest in me
outside the contour of my hips?
Where does this sudden gush of love come from?
I was never anything more
than a forsaken chair
among your expensive furniture,
a garden you chose to raze
without shame or repentance.
Why are you staring at my breasts
as if you owned them?
And why do you weep as if you
stood before a lost kingdom?
Your glorious kingdom, dear sir,
has just crumbled.
There. I’ve settled my score
in an instant.
You tell me now
who’s losing the game.
I opened myself to you
like the Garden of Eden,
gave you all the sweet fruit
and green grass you desired.
Today I offer you
neither heaven nor hell.
This is what you get
for acting the ungrateful.
You faithless. If you’d only treated me
like a human being – just once –
this other man wouldn’t exist.

School Of Love

Your love taught me how to grieve,
And for centuries I needed a woman to make me grieve,
I needed a woman
To make me cry on her shoulders like a bird,
I needed a woman to collect my pieces like broken glass.
Oh my lady, your love taught me the worst of my habits,
It taught me how to drink coffee a thousand times every night,
It taught me how to visit doctors and ask soothsayers,
It taught me to go out to scan the streets,
To seek your face in the rain and in the lights,
To chase your shadow in the faces of strangers,
To hunt your aura even in the newspapers!
Your love showed me the sadness city,
Which I have never entered ere you,
I have never known that the tear is humane,

And the human without tears is just a memory!
Your love taught me
How to draw your face on the walls with chalk like kids,
It taught me how love can change the map of times,
It taught me that when I love,
The earth stands still!
Your love showed me what hallucination is,
It taught me how to love you in every little thing,
In the bare, autumn trees,
In the falling, yellow leafs,
In the rain,
In every cafeteria in which we drank our black coffee,
My lady, your love taught me to sleep in nameless hotels,
And to sit by nameless shores,
It taught me to weep without tears,
Your love taught me how to grieve,
And for centuries I needed a woman to make me grieve,
I needed a woman
To make me cry on her shoulders like a bird,
I needed a woman to collect my pieces like broken glass,

Two African Breasts

Let me find time
to welcome in this love
that comes unbid.
Let me find time
to memorize
this face that rises
out of the trees
of forgetfulness.
Give me the time
to escape this love
that stops my blood.
Let me find time
to recognize your name,
my name,
and the place
where I was born.
Let me find time
to know where I shall die
and how I will revive, as
a bird inside your eyes.
Let me find time
to study the state of winds
and waves, to learn the maps
of bays. . .

Woman, who lodges
inside the future
pepper and pomegranate-seeds,
give me a country
to make me forget all countries,
and give me time
to avoid this Andalusian face,
this Andalusian voice,
this Andalusian death
coming from all directions.
Let me find time to prophesy
the coming of the flood.

Woman, who was inscribed
in books of magic,
before you came
the world was prose.
Now poetry is born.
Give me the time to catch
the colt that runs toward me,
your breast.
The dot over a line.
A bedouin breast, sweet
as cardamom seeds
as coffee brewing over embers,
its form ancient as Damascene brass
as Egyptian temples.

Let me find luck
to pick the fish that swim
under the waters.

Your feet on the carpet
are the shape and stance
of poetry.

Let me find the luck
to know the dividing line
between the certainty
of love and heresy.
Give me the opportunity
to be convinced I have seen
the star, and have been spoken to
by saints.

Woman, whose thighs are like
the desert palm where golden
dates fall from,
your breasts speak seven tongues
and I was made to listen
to them all.
Give me the chance
to avoid this storm,
this sweeping love,
this wintry air, and to be convinced,
to blaspheme, and to enter
the flesh of things.
Give me the chance
to be the one
to walk on water.

Balqees

Balqees. . . oh princess,
You burn, caught between tribal wars,
What will I write about the departure of my queen?
Indeed, words are my scandal. . . .
Here we look through piles of victims
For a star that fell, for a body strewn like fragments of a mirror.
Here we ask, oh my love:
Was this your grave
Or the grave of Arab nationalism?
I won’t read history after today,
My fingers are burned, my clothes bedecked with blood,
Here we are entering the stone age. . . .
Each day we regress a thousand years.
What does poetry say in this era, Balqees?
What does poetry say in the cowardly era. . . ?
The Arab world is crushed, repressed, its tongue cut. . . .
We are crime personified. . . .
Balqees . . .
I beg your forgiveness.
Perhaps your life was the ransom of my own,
Indeed I know well
That the purpose of those who were entangled in murder was to kill
my words!
Rest in God’s care, oh beautiful one,
Poetry, after you, is impossible. . . .

My Lady

You were the most important woman in my history
before the leaving of this year
you’re now.the most impoertant woman
after the birth of this year
you’re a woman i can’t count it with hours and days
you’re a woman made of the poetry nectar
and from the Dreams’ Gold
you’re a woman were living in my body
before a million years

My Lady
the one who was made of Cutton and Clouds
the one who i can call her a Rain of Jewel
and the River of Nahound
and a Row forest
the one who siwmmes in the water of my heart like a fish
the one who lives in the eyes like a folk of pigeons
nothing will change in my emotion
nor my feelings
not even in my heart or my faith
because i’ll stay in the islamic religion

My Lady
do not care about the harmony of time
nor about the name of the years
you’re a woman and you’ll still as woman
and in everytime
i will still Love you
when the 21 century enter
and when the 25 century enter
and when the 29 century enter
and I will Love you
when the seas drys
and the forst burns

Jogging

We stood in columns
like sheep before slaughter
we ran, breathless
We scrambled to kiss
the shoes of the killers. . . .
They stole Jesus the son of Mary
while he was an infant still.
They stole from us the memory of the orange trees
and the apricots and the mint
and the candles in the mosques.
In our hands they left
a sardine can called Gaza
and a dry bone called Jericho.
They left us a body with no bones
A hand with no fingers.
After this secret romance in Oslo
we came out barren.
They gave us a homeland
smaller than a single grain of wheat
a homeland to swallow without water
like aspirin pills.
Oh, we dreamed of a green peace
and a white crescent
and a blue sea.
Now we find ourselves
on a dung-heap.

The Child Scribbles

My fault, my greatest fault,
O sea-eyed princess,
was to love you
as a child loves.
The greatest lovers,
after all, are children
My first mistake
and not my last
was to live
in the taste of wonder
ready to be amazed
by the simple span
of night and day,

and ready for every woman
I loved to break me
into a thousand pieces to make
me an open city,
and to leave me behind her
as dust.
My weakness was to see
the world with the logic of a child.

And my mistake was dragging
love out of its cave into the open air,
making my breast
an open church for all lovers.

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