By: Marwan Makhoul
Translated by: Raphael Cohen
I no longer want peace
or a nation that lives in two states.
Lord ... lead me back to the wilderness, please,
efface the borders that have boxed me in
and defaced the memory of Nature.
Give me a land as last refuge,
a she-camel and two handfuls of dates would suffice
— far removed from technology, Lord — for me to exist not to live
like those noble enough to skip past happiness.
A few nights spent talking in the old breeze would suffice
to make my tent dance without making foreigners greedy for
the rich thighs of the nation.
grant me nothingness
or emptiness I will not object
as long as it overflows with me, if You please.
My Lord, wherever He might be now, help me
to rein in my calamity and muzzle
my enemy, as I have nothing left but myself.
In the past
of primitive conquest there was evil
but I was fine, even if my thieves starved.
Everything has changed since life left our lives.
What’s needed is a flaming torch from Hell. So throw it
and burn the oil, to stop the march towards me, Lord
throw it, so I might live as I always did.
I am safe from the serpent should I meet him
I need not guard against him, for the serpent alone
does not oppress as they imagined him.
The image of Satan is found not in the serpent but
now on colour TV dressed in black and politics.
I would repent on my own if You reran my life, but
rewind to the start so I can try my luck with the tests.
Lord, help me up from the heights of the bitter depths so
I might attain glory once again.
In our days, there are two teams in the arena of war
each declaims the finest words, but fine missives turn
into chemical missiles that rock-a-bye me as they rain unseen
onto the immoral target of their interests.
In my land
the Sunnah of God are the Shia of others; the crusaders
are Jews who sit neutral when there’s no
neutrality on a warhorse.
American justice, the contemporary kind, comes riding missiles bareback, daily
Russia objects and plants black roses on warships
along the coast of the East, so holy and so wholly full of slaughter.
Both of them skilfully impart the ignorance that has befallen me
while they play table-tennis over my house, but in the end
I am the umpire. In my vision there is no justice except
I discovered my soul after my death and to peace
why all these trials?
Is my confession not enough for You to save me?
If I have sinned, quicken the punishment
or cast me out to the jungle if I am righteous.
The jungle has what we do not have:
when hungry the beast devours one beast not two.
They have no religion yet, as You can see, live in peace; or do You think
the lion kills the gazelle out of faith, dear Lord?
Lord, who is my Lord
in the city?
In the revolution of perpetrator against perpetrator I see myself
as if I was from another planet
void of all that is for or against me.
I do no starve and am not harmed as if
I was not me. I have nostalgia for no one
for nostalgia, as you see, is the ruin of the tribe
self-wrought, and returning to the past
leads prayers of backwardness for suicide bombers.
hand me the rope of Your mercy and haul me to another planet
not for me to try life there
but to escape the Earth that despite all its tragedies
as if it had no decency, and as if from its spinning
I remained living, my head reeling.