Follow Us

Follow on Twitter    Follow on Facebook    YouTube Channel    Vimeo Channel    Tumblr    SoundCloud Channel    iPhone App    iPhone App

Glory to Those Who Torture Us

[Abdellatif Laabi. Image from] [Abdellatif Laabi. Image from]

Glory to Those Who Torture Us

Abdellatif Laâbi

Translated by André Naffis-Sahely


glory glory
we are the chosen people

erected upon the peaks of fate for us the tomorrows that sing rivers of honey and milk

sacrifice brothers sacrifice

exile in sacrifice
o the apotheosis of throats ready

heritage Abraham’s sadism

crimes on the table

heritage faith struck down by miracles the desert’s spontaneous abundance

miracle we do not suffer
o the hired killer’s unblemished brow the tickling of electrodes
and the scalpel stripping the vertebrae

again and again
breathing in all the gases greedily swallowing the grenades

to the firing squad
embracing the wrong side and the right side

for the sacrifice

of the ripe finger that fondles the trigger that kills us

the cast iron sparkles
skirted the scalping of the pecking order

I didn’t want to partake in this spectacle no

puppet I didn’t want them to execute me

ludicrously on the bleachers

but to remain a valve

a body throbbing with elemental breath

diastole to remain a pharynx without

a shot at the strongest life

to be of this night that doesn’t dismantle the day of this leavening not of this dough

to be at last of these poisonous knots of roots

a blanket refusal
this so-called complication of speaking organisms

I refuse this procreating of automatons you’ve have drawn blood from the language and the world

you’ve drawn blood from life forgotten forgiveness
of all rock solidified mass
from one mass to another a clash the stale air of shacks

the raised garden beds

I’m not speaking of war
of the recolonization of the third world of those rejected grafts
it’s I alone who rejoices

we’re still dying of hunger

in these tortures
like a flask used to beat

the poem

into my flesh

I do not control the impulse of my fist patience
all these lives belong to me
I will speak of everything

I answer violence
with violence

before a hired hand

comes to stab me in the back

I’m going to speak
of the dead that went before me
those I spend time with and those to come

everything will be said this is my pledge to you

those dogs have sullied our memory who will want to touch this history where slimy rats have scurried abolish to begin

then the repetition the official accounts

will not include us napalm impedes the machine gun

blowpipe from behind

the moon any time now the islands the steppes

and overturn the whole lot
some martians will come to finish off the survivors

monstrosities monstrosities
in the severity of the days of retribution I see nothing but killers
this brotherhood of killers
that bends the bow
the target hurled

into the crime hail barbarity of great famines

hail tribal flints
hail jungle of crudeness something in me reawakens
once again the miracle of the body I begin by denying

my hand surfaces breaks away and returns

grabs my genitals coldly exposed

into a desert of salt flats


[Translated from the French by André Naffis-Sahely. This excerpt is from Abdellatif Laâbi’s The Rule of Barbarism, published by Island Position and can be purchased here. Naffis-Sahely's translation of Laâbi’s autobiographical novel The Bottom of the Jar is forthcoming from Archipelago Books.] 

If you prefer, email your comments to




Apply for an ASI Internship now!


Political Economy Project

Issues a

Call for Letters of Interest


Jadaliyya Launches its

Political Economy




F O R    T H E    C L A S S R O O M 

Roundtable: Harold Wolpe’s Intellectual Agenda and Writing on Palestine


The 1967 Defeat and the Conditions of the Now: A Roundtable


E N G A G E M E N T