Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sadiq Assaieg: This is Baghdad

This series of photos of Iraq before the Bush invasion, surprisingly, contains a photo by Alan Pogue, "Sister Yevette",1998.

This Is Baghdad

by Sadiq Assaieg
Translated by Soheil Najm
Poetic editing in English by Susan Bright

For: Tony Blair

This city is a miracle;
bombs thrown down at it,
smashed under our feet
like a broken watch,
as if reborn;
you can hear it ticking, under the debris,
you can sense its heart, and its lost parts.
A miracle city
in a state of dreaming and delirium;
history memorizes its poems.
Its houses are ruins
its buildings are forlorn,
yet colored flags
surrender to the touches of an April wind,
stabled on the roofs, and masts
sewn with worn patches
designed with simple artistic sense
remain to hail the limits of agony and loss.

It throbs and gleams under the sun,
coloring the faces of the poor and the streets
with the colors of sky and angels.
It is a city afflicted with dreams of future.
Its body is in flame
and its faucet is dry.
There is wrath, hunger
and teeth gnashing in its depths.
A city that history,
snipers, lovers, poets,
invaders, barbarians and oil thieves are ravenous for.
In every age they thought it dead —
a very long cry erupts
from the depths of her soul,
circulates in her air like broken waves:
"To die or not to die,
to live or not to live
to be or not to be
that is the question".

pupils of the preliminary school,
who had survived one hell of a bombing,
went out of their classes to the alley,
played a long penalty kick,
that split space like a flying dish,
sailing over laundry lines hung with wet clothes
to land, a new disaster,
breaking the neighbors' window.

At Abu-Ibrahim's café
which is well-known as the café of the "complicated group"
full of book lovers, poets and unemployed people,
human wind pipes come to blows in a resounding debate,
this time about a prose poem.
It’s the author, who is ready to fight anyone,
insisting that it is designed according to "Dadaism".
That is why it is afflicted with the bird-flue virus,
“No need to say that it bears a
Suq Mureidy* signature,”
commented another man,
bestowed with mistrust for modern art,
after he set down a domino piece,
while some others argued about
a new play described as "popular"
which someone described as the “essence
of misunderstanding”
of "pop" theory and visual art
after the World War, and
an acute wave of debate
blew up from the back row
about contents of the forth dimension,
Ibrahim al-Jaffari, **
and the end of history.

Not far from the hotel
of hajj Hamoodi al-Dori,
that is well-known as "The Greats' House"
at a public market
cars passed through crossing the bridge;
I saw them, in my eyes, flying,
speeding along the asphalt of the street
as if they were meteors,
a bride inside one of them,
she will lose her virginity this night,
the captain hajj Rzuqi
and the applause of the crowd people
in the shop of hajj Hamodi al-Doori,
near al-Mutanabi Street,
a radio with a bad teeth sang
a song of sympathy for Zuhur Hussein***
then came a new broadcaster,
to apologize about a mistake in broadcasting,
and about a simple change
for the time of the news,
according to Greenwich time,
and at three o'clock
exactly as the last raid was over
an Indian parrot sang in Arabic —
before a crowd of children surrounding it —
a Kahttan al-Madfaie 's(4) song "Mohammed oh Mohammed."
Then it climbed in arrogance onto
an artificial green bough
delighted by it’s own long,
bow tail.

Amazing city as I said.
Snipers, prophets and killers are searching for it,
angels, poets and saints.
East and west.
North and south.
One of the most beautiful cities in the world,
its depth are rocked by bombing everyday
without losing is balance.
Although its women
are whispering to their men in low voice at night,
lest the children wake
yet the men don’t hear despair,
go on.

A miracle city
its crescents are always drunk,
and their stars are drunk too.
Although bombs are thrown down at it
and it is smashed like a broken watch,
yet it stays ticking.
As if it were reborn,
risen from garbage,
on broken light wings —
a code for the forthcoming generations,
its heart still throbbing and throbbing
like the singing nightingale alarm of the broadcasting
ringing with all its strength, with power and steadiness,
in spite of everything remain
the words
this is Baghdad,
this is Baghdad,
this is Baghdad.

(1) Suq Mureidy: A public market in Baghdad.
(2) Ibrahim al-Jaffari: The Iraqi ex-prime minister.
(3) Zuhur Hussein: Iraqi woman singer who was well-known during the sixties.
(4) Kahttan al-Madfaie: Iraqi singer.

About the Author
Sadiq Assaieg: Born in Baghdad 1935.
Published book: The Song of the Rhinoceros, Baghdad 1973.

One of a series of videos made by young people in Iraq, since the invasion, -- signed Chat the Planet


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

simply remarkable. thanks Sb.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last night , I tried again and I could open earthfamylyalpha(what a beautiful name ! how did you find it? )
I liked very very much this poem: "This is Baghdad"
The title is simple and yet it deeply penetrates .Perhaps for western people ,this word "Baghdad "
is only the name of an Arab country but for me as an eastern person, it is a tunnel of time. It reawakes many memories from ancient and modern world .And as an eastern person , to find such a simple title,emphasizing the attack of America is more painfull.
This innocent country has innocent poets who have nothing but words to bear their unbearable pains. Please give my love and admiration to the poet :Sadiq Assaieg


9:30 PM  

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