from The Desert Laughs Alone

Husam Al-Saray

An Opening with No Balcony

The traitors push down
on her smooth back.
They scatter her perfume,
her red lipstick, her hair comb.
They don't forget to shatter
her mirror, her origin unknown.
They keep widening the opening
with no balcony, despite her dream
bidding the widening to stop
near Kahramana, a statue of freedom,
in the ancient district Al-Rusafa.
She screams: Leave your mirage. Yes,
I am Baghdad. My wounds
have not yet healed.

The Book's Biers

Near a box of democracy
and a matchstick of self-liberation,
I still smell the scent of gunpowder
in the alley where it happened.

The intellectual sleeps,
a book wrapped around him,
beside him are those who wrote on his beard:
Everything's for the sake of sacrifice. 


Like this we're born,
Like this we die,
As a dramatic moment.
Its techniques consume every role,
Purge the silence.
Yet it beats us with its thumb
Against the drum of forgetfulness. 

translated from the Arabic by Alex V. Gubbins