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Four Poems

[Golan Haji. Image from poet] [Golan Haji. Image from poet]

The Box of Pain


You were not there at daybreak

When patients, passengers and soldiers

Stretched their heads, bald or shaven,

Like tiny cottages in distant windows.

The boy passed the light fog

Which didn't stay long

Before the hospital gate

Where he found a pistol lying on the grass.

You were not there.

Now, you are a story

Being told in a place you are not in.

Your throat: that box of pain,

Is full of bones and feathers.

In the white of your eye

There is a blood dot, small and rusty,

Like a sun setting in the distance

Over a snowy field 

Which was trampled

By long rows of hungry soldiers.

[Translated from the Arabic by Golan Haji & Kristina Stoltz]


March Light


Raise your eyes

to the cloud above your head:

it’s like the belly of an animal

you’d like to play with.

Snow in the shadow

covers a stone & crumbs of bread.


Do you hear the wind

between the blossoming peach branches?


Ah, you understand me?


It’s morning, the air is sharper than our eyes

and no one leaves any trace

in the mirror.

* * * 

The sparrow that flew down from the washing-line recognized me without knowing my name. His legs were thinner than the line, weak but they served his needs well. I terrified him when I appeared & the terror took his wings high & away. He doesn’t differentiate between all of us who are called human; it’s the same whether it’s me or someone else since his shining eyes don’t feel safe with any of us. But I hate it that I keep watch over the name I was given to capture me, that I drag it & it drags me, and that it’s stuck to my face & has become part of my voice. Sometimes it seems strange to me when I read it or hear it, or it bores me & I detest it. Like everyone I have spent a long time imprisoning myself in my name, since all of us are buried alive, each in his own : a grave of fear & delight & misunderstanding.

[Translated from the Arabic by Golan Haji & Stephen Watts]


The Adulterers


My thoughts are colder than your hand

Harder than a nipple which awoke between the teeth of a stranger.

A whiff of air will scatter me among the shadows

Where signs and vows glimmer,

The sleepless grow old,

And dishes get cold as do faces forgetting us.

Death chatters

When my hand passes the table like a slow straw cart

Then goes away, far from us, angry like us,

Leaving this handkerchief

And a sheet carrying your name

So you won't get lost if you go out.


[Translated from the Arabic by Golan Haji with Lauren Pyott] 

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