Four Poems

Jan Dammu

Schubert the Greek

Is it a new birth,
insomnia’s sediments
from feathers, memories,
and bullets?
A new departure, a counter-departure.
There is no equality yet between
snow’s shadow and shadow’s ash.
Should one take refuge in Narcissus (or Bacchus)
for the sake of decoding the talismanic rose
or the butterflies that flit
in the corridors opened by our sleep
that fossilize us?

How distant are the paved roads of childhood.
How close are the roads of death.
Greek sculptures are capable of
the liquidation of minds that alienation’s echo
filled with dirt.
Schubert once more, and the tears are not enough.
It is our duty to toss the keys into the President’s hands.

The Shade

Bore deeper into your aversion, O reality,
as that might be more becoming for the ripping up of the stars.
Stars! A foot in search of something that resembles it. A foot that sprouts leaves with dreams. A foot that severs.
The axe that was crafted to cut trees trunks will remain an axe always.
The final arrival to the realm of my arms was on Tuesday.
Between rain and reality, god’s shadow

Here I am, en route to practice my humanity.
The room is box-shaped, just like the heart,
With the last of my cigarettes, anxiety reaches its most ferocious state.
I descend.

The Wilds of the Metropolis


You gnaw at sleep’s pear
and lie on a pile of ruses, dangers, and debacles
then rest on yesterday’s train
while your phantoms keep on pulsating, powerful, alive
Indeed they are your eternal comrades
Bare are the tables
like the night’s core, like Einstein’s equations: and here you are
running towards the mirage of moments.
You are intoxicated and thirsty
intoxicated and thirsty more than is proper: this is life
This is infinity


The walls of houses are closed to you
The wind strews you in the streets
You merge with torrential waters
Waters the size of adolescence and youth
You left many secrets in the sand’s shadows
befriended the mouth of power
You opened the doors of chance
anchored fire
in the soul’s caravans
You bowed down before kings
often . . . for a long time
You extravagantly embellished sheets of paper
and made the heavens a site for explosion
for obliteration
yet no thorns
You were not loyal to yourself
You were estranged
You even reckoned
names, wells, and the winds
a kind of absurdity
Such loss!
You need to know the origins
to feel the sources:
light, breezes, reality
contradiction and lakes of blood, why not?
You seesawed extensively
but there were always herbs, glasses, and weddings
around you
Beautiful babble
Silly babble
Nothing is intertwined with the boundless
in the primordial
And these are the wilds of the metropolis

Two Poems


There is no need yet for hieroglyphics
as they concern emperors
who have proliferated around us like the plague.
As for the outermost corners, magnetized by moronic gladiators,
it is better they should be ignored, or gifted to an ordinary poet.
The ruins are for us, this is their beauty.
As for the artificial paradises, let the thieves and the vile wallow in them.
Crossing nothingness or being is just a mere occurrence.
What is serious is the arrival to the self,
to the fountainheads that Satan abandoned.
Instead of old age, then descending, towards the start
we were afflicted by endless beginnings.
Endless are the bacteria of pain.
Endless are the rituals of blankness.
Endless are the horrors created by your blind fanaticism.
There is no end, then, to what we now create.
And what we design amounts to nothing.
Like this we receive the code through the roar of the ages.
Here I am with
an apple
and that suffices.


Will we ever know
the covert player
in this foul game

translated from the Arabic by Suneela Mubayi