Slightly Mischievous Texts

Translated by Dr. Abbas Kadhim
Berkeley, California, U.S.A.


I knock on a door,
open it
I see none but myself, a door
I open,
nothing but another door
O Lord!
How many doors separate me from myself

* * *


In my homeland,
fear adds and divides me
a man who writes
and another - behind my window curtains
watching me

* * *


"Don't tell anyone about your dream!"
Said my father
The street is plagued with ears
each ear is connected by a concealed wire to another
until they reach the tyrant

* * *


Iraq that is growing far
as his steps expand into exile
and Iraq that slows down
each time a window opens..
I say: "Aah"
and Iraq that quivers
each time a shadow passes by,
I imagine a gun following me
or a wander
and Iraq that we yearn for
half of his history is made of songs and kohl
and the other half of tyrants

* * *


Al-Hallaj lifted me to the highest hill in Baghdad
and showed me all of its minarets and temples
and its churches, adorned with bells
and said with a gesture,
- "count..."
How many distressed prayers
ascend each day, from people's gasps
but no one
tried to ascend
in his meaning to his vision
to let Him know..
the plunder of earthly tyrants
and lapse of the clergy
and what the guards have done

* * *

God's Money

On the pavement of Al-Hamra Street
The clergyman, with a long rosary, passes by
the vagabond, with his naked dreams
the politician, loaded with his capital
the man of letters, astray
between Soho and Hay Al-Sullam
All pass by in a hurry, not sparing a glance
for the blind beggar
only the rain trickles on his extended hand
towards God

* * *

Al-Hallaj Again

Who will rescue me from my ordeal?
There is none in the gown but Him
and there is none in the gown but me
I am the one
and He is the One
How did they unite;
how did they part;
in a moment of intoxication,
between my doubts about Him
and my piety?

* * *


You have not seen your Lord
save in the blade and in the blood
But I see Him...
in the word
in the tone
in the blue color of her eyes
and the sea

* * *
have annulled
other verses
and you want your head to stay
like a rock
unchanged over the years

* * *
You, the mortal!
See how you converse with your Lord and with Satan
Is it too much to learn
how you converse with a human?

* * *
Not a bell
or a minaret
- O, Servant!
don't you hear your Lord
in the flute?

* * *
My Lord is one
Not a Catholic
or a Protestant
Not a Shi`i
or a Sunni
Whoever divided Him;
whoever interpreted Him;
whoever put words in His mouth;
whoever classified Him
according to his own sect,
his aims,
his laws,
and his troops,
is the unbeliever

* * *
Four caliphs
left history
behind their back
opening its mouth
and we continued, until now, drying out behind them
the spots of blood
I wonder..
how could a text
be occupied with a woman carrying wood
and overlook
who will rule

* * *


They dictate me in lines
and classify me in chapters
then they catalog me,
print me in a complete version,
distribute me to bookstores
and curse me in newspapers
While I
have not
opened my mouth

* * *


These poems were read by Adnan Al-Sayegh at the third Al-Marbed Poetry Festival in Basra, Iraq, which took place on 15-17 April 2006.

The poems - Slightly Mischievous Texts - upset the intolerant armed militia and after reading them Al-Sayegh was threatened with death and with having his tongue cut out. He was forced to leave Basra in haste and through Kuwait to return to his exile in London.

Search Google Custom Search