Four poems


Abdulrahman Almajedi
Translated by Sargon Boulus

On the roof of our house
In Baghdad,
We found a graveyard
Inhabited by my father
And mother, my brothers
And sisters and me.
They gave up their places
And left;
My father with a crutch
To fend off his mistakes,
My mother weeping
For her dead sons.
And I, foolishness with a stick,
Tears shed over the dead,
A settled bachelorhood,
And a debunked prophecy.

My uncle Salman,
when his sons changed
his profession
from peasant to labourer,
was struck with arthritis.
He became silent.
One night they heard him weep
like a widow in his bed.
In the morning he had disappeared!
They looked for him
in the alleys of al-Thawra1,
in its houses, and streets . . .
and found nothing.
After a few days,
a visitor came from al-Amara2
who told them about an old man
found weeping one night, like
a widow, struck with arthritis
in a boat stuck in the mud
of the drained marsh.
1 al-Thawra is a district in Baghdad
2 al-Amara is a town in southern Iraq


The obedient twins.
They drag the body’s carriage
wherever it wants.
Satisfied with their lot:
obeying the master,
and the dust of the road.


The man said:
in God’s name,
have mercy on the ball.
Listen to it moan!
The woman said:
our neighbour’s speech
stumbles with sincerity
The child said:
when the birds die
the angels bury them in the sky.
The mother said:
There is a hole in my heart
that will only heal
when I hug my distant boy.
The photographer said:
Inside my black box
I store the earth
and those upon it.

From Akhtam Hijriyya – Mamalik li Ghadin Hayran, Dar Mahktutat, Holland, 2002

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