To Perish

To Perish

To Perish

Is not that you’ve been denied and abandoned

By your homeland,

That the exile has no childhood,

That you’re unable to forget your motherland

No matter how much she denies or forgets you.

 

To Perish

Is that you’re two un-meeting halves;

You are neither here nor there

 

Exile

Is an un-healing wound in the spirit

That turns greenish with time.

Exile is a fracture in the meaning of homeland.

 

I—

When I call

My country,

The echo bounces back at me.

My own country:

The grief that waters my longing

And grows within.

 

By Tunisian Poet Ahmad Omar Zaabar

Translation by Myriam Rizkallah

A Sin We Won’t Forget

A Sin We Won’t Forget

Truly, truly, I say to you –

The child killed on the beach –

WE murdered him.

 

The boy was

Forsaken by the country,

Forsaken by the spirit,

Forsaken by the body,

The soul and the flesh.

 

The child was not spit by a sea, rather by fitnah.

Elan,

And all of us are spit by

Oil, gas, power, and by homeland.

 

Until

Ali and Omar reconcile,

Truly, truly, I say to you,

Elan was not killed by Fate;

Elan was not killed by Destiny.

The salty sea did not kill him.

His murderer

Is, rather,

The bitter homeland.

 

We live

Because death fails to catch us.

We don’t walk towards a goal.

If we live, it’s a coincidence,

And if we die, it’s a hazard.

 

We have a homeland

That we embrace with our soul.

She discards us unregretfully,

For we are but a corpse,

Thrown on the shores like seashells.

 

We have a homeland

That has no room

But for death and the departed,

A god that terrorizes people,

And a sheikh who lifts up the whip,

Memorizes the slaughtering verse,

And reads the surah of the fitnah

Between Mecca and Najaf.

 

Elan Died.

The human being crumbled;

The ruler and the sultan lived.

 

Little Elan,

Did he die?

Or did our conscience die?

 

By Tunisian Poet Ahmad Omar Zaabar

Translation by Myriam Rizkallah

Be Not But Yourself

Be Not But Yourself

You who wrote

And writes the creation verse.

All who wrote your book are

Behind you now… in the back.

They wrote you, but you write them.

Erase what they wrote.

Existence is nothing but

The trace of your footsteps.

 

You and your female are one.

 

Listen not but to your heart.

Your female is you,

And you are part of her glory.

If you burn in her light and fire,

You become the echo of her being,

And Existence becomes your echo.

 

Listen not but to your heart.

Your female is you,

Your land then your heaven.

By Tunisian Poet Ahmad Omar Zaabar

Translation by Myriam Rizkallah

When

When

When

All meanings are petrified,

And all what is holy

Loses spirit and reaches its end,

The poets continue what God has started.

 

Life is

A passing coincidence;

Neither a believer nor an unbeliever.

Her manifestation is the body,

And her enemy: the Day of Judgement.

 

This world is my prison,

And the body

Is a king of miserable,

Tyrannical clay.

 

This soul is myself,

And I

Have been scattered in all souls

As fragments.

And I am

A sole individual.

 

By Tunisian Poet Ahmad Omar Zaabar

Translation by Myriam Rizkallah

Adieu

Adieu

I have nothing but a burning hunger,

And words so defeated by grief,

Shattered in the bitter throat.

Every time I prepared myself for kisses,

Adieus were waved to the grave.

 

I have nothing but you, oh, Piercing Silence!

My grief does not die.

My grief does not diminish.

Every time I prepared myself for hope,

The past scorned forgiveness.

 

I have nothing but pain,

And the fading glow of life.

Regret has pushed it away from me,

Splitting it.

Part of it died alone.

Part of it is untouchable like a ghost.

Every time I prepared myself for joy,

Death prepared a massacre for my spirit.

 

Poem by Ahmad Omar Zaabar

Translation by Myriam Rizkallah