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Contemporary poems from Iraq

  • Published at 10:08 pm January 5th, 2018
  • Last updated at 05:27 pm January 15th, 2018
Contemporary poems from Iraq
Translated by Azfar Hussain [For his help with my translations, I'm indebted to Arab activist Rashid Abdullah – one whom I met at Washington State University and one whose knowledge of Arabic language and literature has always fascinated me – translator]  

Removal

Sherko Faiq If they rob my poetry of the flower one of my four seasons will die. If they rob my poetry of the presence of my love two of those seasons will die. If they rob my poetry of bread three of them will die. But if they rob my poetry of freedom my entire year will die, and I myself will die.  

Portrait

Sherko Faiq Together they were drawing the picture of a man. Four children: a Turk, a Persian, an Arab and a Kurd. The first child drew the man's head The second one drew his hands and his shoulder The third drew his legs and his torso And the fourth child drew a gun on his shoulder.  

Now and then

Yousif al-Saigh The nightmare tonight was very dense, believe me: a dining table, a bottle of wine, three glasses, and three men without heads.  

Good morning, Fakhani

Saadi Yusuf [For me this poem interestingly echoes Langston Hughes] Good morning! Good Morning to roads and rifles Good Morning to coloured berets and the sunlight pouring generously on them Good Morning to you: the headquarters guard to nocturnal guns and nocturnal secrets to the beautiful fatigue glistening in your dark eyes Good Morning to children in their uniforms Good Morning to Umme Nabil Smile Smile Good Morning to Abu Ali's coffee house Good Morning to you who yearn with guns for the roaring of jet planes Good Morning Good Morning to janitors and garbage workers to the radio announcer to the young men tired of hackneyed metaphors and sterile debates to the accumulated silences of Toledo to the young man who handed me a copy of a new radical views weekly twice to the students passing their exams in cafes Good Morning Good Morning to revolutions erupting like fires and volcanoes in the very first draft of a manifest to the young rebel wrote in the middle of those bullets piercing the flesh of the people Good Morning to the revolutionary in my heart: Good Morning to my love, O my love, Good Morning Good Morning Good Morning
Azfar Hussain is a Bangladeshi theorist, critic, academic, bilingual writer, poet, translator and activist. He is Associate Professor of Liberal Studies/Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and Vice-President of the Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS) and Honorary GCAS Professor of English, World Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies.