viernes, 14 de noviembre de 2008

poems/ in English

Muhsin Al-Ramli
Translated from Spanish to English by Alycia M. Rivard


-Once again to Hassan Mutlak*, and it is not the last.-

What was has transformed into what is left…
and I said goodbye to Iraq

I abandoned the police stations, the cemeteries.
I crossed the walls of weapons
and the empty pharmacies.
I had been hard with the garden of hands in farewell
and with the tears of the girls that were left behind
Because my weeping, in front of me, is long
and my map is a blind man’s cane.
My heart is a cemetery full of loved ones
and my medicine is there…there,
With the gypsies of Andalucia.
I crossed countries, many cities
and lived briefly in little towns
because Granada was waiting for me,
And I for her;
Because Lorca laid down his gaze
over the hand of the watch and the olive groves.
My friend, my brother, is waiting for me
since our very first notebooks.
I will cry inside his arms.
I will wet his shirt embroidered with songs.

I will tell him all that the tyrant has done
between the two rivers, between the palm trees
and between friends.
I will describe the rope they used to hang Hassan Mutlak*,
and the machinery that minces souls and makes Iraqi meat.
But I have found his house empty
with the exception of his rocker, trembling,
between the window and the poem.

I called out: Lorca. Lorca.
Oh, the secret of my mother’s insistence on smoking,
despite her asthma.
Where are you?
My friend and my partner in innocence.
Where are you?
Nothing, but his rocker, trembling,
between the window
and the piano.
I kept calling
until his neighbor appeared, a gypsy girl,
and said:
Your friend left us what remained.
He had said farewell to his rocker…now
I will describe the handkerchief with which he covered his eyes
after his final gaze at his watch, waiting for you.
I will sing you his last poem;
his last breath.
The shots agitated him and
we became entangled
The twisting…
The weeping everywhere...
Everywhere there is weeping.
Our hands have signaled
to the clouds
and to the height of confusion.

“I have come to Granada
in search of Lorca.
so that I might write about the assassinated ones of my family.
But…I found him assassinated.”
*Hassan Mutlak (1961-1990): He is an Iraqi writer, the brother of the poet, and was hung in 1990 at the age of 29 for an attempted coup d'état. He was considered among the intellectuals of his country to be the Lorca of Iraq.


Insult the fat leader
and enter the bar.
Drink the carnival of boredom
and forget the residue of the victim.
Throw the tank in the toilet.
Don’t raise a hand to slap,
or to push.
Do not raise a hand to slap,
We are all widowers of the answers.


The coffin
is hidden until it is the one that hides,
without water,
or rapture,
or cigarettes.
Not even a woman,
or a window that opens to the garden,
or an invitation to a date
in the corner of flattery.
or polygraphs, or planes, or…
Everything is (not) everything it was before him.
Maybe we left (yes) before him?


I will ride through my anguish so as to not annoy you.
My tongue will come undone in the water,
I will divide the fat from deception
and lament the elegance of evasion.
Nullity does not have a sidewalk
and life is all sidewalks.
I will write a few lines for the gurgler,
and swim in the enigma.
I will be your fetus,
in my next birth.

I will have no name.
*Muhsin Al-Ramli: Born in Iraq in 1967. Has lived in Spain since 1995. Doctorate in Philosophy and Letters, Spanish Philology. Universidad Autónoma of Madrid 2003, thesis topic: The Imprint of Islamic Culture in Don Quixote. Translator of several Spanish classics to Arabic. Published works: Gift from the Century to Come (Short stories) 1995. In Search of a Live Heart (Theater) 1997. Papers far from the Tigris (Short stories) 1998, Scattered Crumbs (Novel) 1999, Arkansas Award (U.S.A.) 2002 for the English version. The Happy Nights of the Bombing (Narrative) 2003. We Are All Widowers of the Answers (Poetry) 2005. Fingers of Dates (Novel) 2008. Coeditor of the cultural magazine ALWAH. Currently a professor in Saint Louis University, Madrid.
*published in the review (ABANICO) Nº15, Spring 2005 Madrid-Spain

Alycia Rivard

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