Thursday, January 10, 2008

Iraqi Poet: Mohammed al-Nassar

Note: I don't know who the poet above is. The YouTube note
doesn't identify him but says the video was made before
2003. I recognize the independently published books on
the street. My heart goes there.

When Will I Awaken From This Life?
Mohammed al-Nassar*

Translated by Soheil Najm
Poetic Editing in English by Susan Bright

Talking led me to the graveyard.
Talking with my friend,
who was speechless,
led me to the graveyard.

I could not return the ring to the sand.
It jumped from my brother’s finger
at a washhouse for the dead.

I saw my country raving.
The river — I saw it
as a black knife.

Oh friend!
Oh neighbor!
Oh desert!

I was obliterated by your
your stony rain, my eyes effaced,
my flight, obsessed and desolate,
unable to reach my country,
unable to reach exile.

Oh speechless friend
across a fallen fence!


I found a pigeon
that neither cried nor wailed.

Around it were drawings
of children without limbs
and I remembered,
Oh friend!
the ring
that slipped
from my brother's finger
and fell into the water.

Can we then find,
Oh friends, Oh neighbors!
the ones who were lost
in the graveyard itself lost
beneath another graveyard
that was red?

What you say is wrong
my friend, my neighbor!

The moon didn't fall.
The limb of the space
was broken.

What you say is wrong.

This is not a crazy,
it is the Street,
long and desolate.

What you say is wrong.

This is not an injured sun,
it is the only sun
of a forlorn house.

People have left it,
gone away.

Oh friend, oh neighbor, desert!
nothing remains but winter buried
under a heap of firewood
and I almost smell the odor of fresh dead
rise up with this sand storm,
that put out the lamp you left over there.


O neighbor!
Oh Friends!

This is the black house.
These are its ghost inhabitants
and those are the banners,
like bleeding snow.

And when
arrows clash
the emperor
prepares another feast
for our foggy country
I will remember
rolling my eyes
over the washhouse
and the lies that swallow war.

I will arrange
chess pawns
on the table,
but not dead
I can
move my teeth
and with my fist I can catch
the beasts of the wind
opening the door with this hand,
which the bird and the bough mock,
and when
the nightmare brings me back
to the "execution field,"
I will jump fully terrified
and scratch at the chest
of the poor light.

Oh friend, Oh neighbor!
I will inspect your forlorn window
and your tree that gives us figs
at the end of summer,
and with the fullness of my despair,
I will breathe this strange fresh sleek air like a memory
empty from the sense of dawn
full of dumb desire,
and I will surrender to sleep
because I will be a morsel to the animal of hope no longer.

As for life,
Oh friend, Oh neighbor, desert!
as for this excellent cage
for taming sparrows and children,
as for the burning tears
my country weaned me on,
I swim in a sanctuary of ash
and go on
like wind,
or idols
my ear on the track of that railway
that goes to the graveyard,
because I can do only one thing
in these ravaged times:

to wait for a miracle
to return my ring of shock,
and my country, to me
so I can awaken from
this life.

© Mohammed Turky al-Nassar, 2008: Born in Nasiriah (South of Iraq) 1961.
Published books:
*The Current of the Days. Baghdad 1987.
*Competing Me on the Desert. Baghdad 89.
* Third life. Beirut, 1993.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much .You let us hear the voice of Iraqi poets. Thank you.

Farideh Hasanzadeh

8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note: I wrote to Soheil asking if he new the man in the video. Here is his reply. When his article comes I will post it.

Thank you Susan,
I played the video. Yes I know this person. Some people used to sell books in this way on a al-MUtanabi street in Baghdad. Send me Your Address so that I can send you "Gilgamesh" the magazine (in English and I am the managing editor of it) devoted to Iraqi culture in which you can read a good report about this street and the sellers of books there.

8:35 AM  

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