Translated by Stephen Watts and Marga Burgui-Artajo
On al-Hamra' street
The religious man walks with his rosary
The tramp goes by with barefoot dreams
The politician crosses, wasted with gain
The intellectual passes, vaguely astray
Between Soho and Hay al-Sillem.
All rush past, sparing not a thought
For the blind beggar
Only rain drips onto his palms
Stretching out to God
Café de Baquet, Beirut 1996
(*) The three poems above, together with the one below, ‘Night Prayers'(including ‘My God Is One') were read by Adnan al-Sayegh at the third al-Marbed Poetry Festival in Basra, which took place between 15-17 April 2006. The poems - later referred to as ‘Slightly Contentious Texts' - upset the armed militia and after reading them al-Sayegh was threatened with death & having his tongue cut out. He was forced to leave Basra in haste through Kuwait & return to his exile in London.