The sea breaks over Haifa. He died fulfilling his poetic obligations. Pass me this hazy bit of sky
above a sea that’s been dead since forever,
though no one knew it. I’m sitting in the dark and writing.
Image © Jim R Rogers
I’m sitting in the dark and writing
the letters they never sent. Pass me this pit in the earth
from which the singing of a hopeless people rises.
On a Train to Aswan
I’m not dead yet,
so why are the mourners here? How many must I die? Here, Lord Byron confronts a train full of men
who are heading to Aswan—
the vultures are waiting for them
at the Suez Canal.
He hoped his obituary would read as follows:
He fought the invaders as best he could. Three Poems
Translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid
‘I’m not dead yet / so why are the mourners here?’
Pass it to me, I said. How many lives have I lived? I died so many times,
but the mourners never came. He wasn’t victorious,
but neither was he defeated. In oblivion he made a life
for a thousand years to come. I want to make long and delicate incisions
in which these gathering clouds can sleep –
they’re hoarding up fatigue
as they travel from one end of themselves
to the other. Here, the purebred horses on display
and the mules kicked by their riders as they race down the
are equals. One of the men places a hunk of damp bread
on the table in front of me. Must I arrange
even my own funeral? It’s 2014 now, and the letters they never wrote
are still reaching me. Enter the next room
and pass me my death.