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A Portrait of an Iraqi Person at the End of Time

Sargon Boulos Sargon Boulos

A Portrait of an Iraqi Person at the End of Time

by Sargon Boulus

[Translated by Sinan Antoon]



I see him here, or there:
his eye wandering in the river of catastrophes
his nostrils rooted in the soil of massacres
his belly which grinded the wheat of madness
in Babylon’s mills
for ten thousand years
I see his portrait, which has lost its frame
in history’s repeated explosions
retrieving its features like a mirror
to surprise us every time
with its gratuitous ability to lavish
In his clear forehead you can see
as if on the pages of a book
a column of invaders passing through
just as in a black and white film:
give him any prison or graveyard!
give him any exile
any “here” or “there”
Despite that
we can see the catapults
pounding the walls
so that once again,
Uruk rises high

* Uruk: the ancient city of Sumer and then Babylonia, became an important cultural and political center. It is believed that the modern name of “Iraq” might have been derived from it.

* The poem was published in Boulus’ last collection, published posthumously: Azma ukhra li-kalb al-Qabilah (Another Bone for the Tribe’s Dog) (Beirut & Baghdad: Dar al-Jamal, 2008).



* Translated by Sinan Antoon

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