Friday, March 1, 2019




Oh my shadow how you tire me out
you, the deformed ghost
of the agony dwelling within my ribs…!
How you push me to hide in the dark for fear
of you…!

When your ominous emaciated
gloomy image
chases me
or your clumsy silhouette
painted on my path
paces ahead of me
I feel I’m trotting
in front of you
or after you
against my will
that you are pricking my neck
or pulling me by the nose
And if you beside me walk
I feel a monster lying in ambush

rise up
on his feet
like a ghoul,
and leap
upon me
and put me
to death

All day long I tell
When my hour comes tomorrow
or after tomorrow
no doubt the angel of death will come
for me alone
and forget you…
and you will attend my funeral
and take part in my burial

And when I’m laid inside the earth
and all my buddies depart
you’ll linger a while above my grave
to gloat over my misfortune
and laugh out loud
then go away

Who knows whom you will go with
after me!
to whom the bad luck will be passed!
a human like me, haunted with his premonitions
or a ferocious monster…?


My sails are wandering aimlessly.
I’ve never thought my passion would be lost
for the sands of the shore
hidden in the grip of fate,
that the waves would rob me of my sensibility
the spray would capture my eyesight
my memory would go obscure
and all my nostalgia will melt
for swords and bridges,
for shops, for taverns and women,
for terrains,
and ancient monuments.
And I’ve never reckoned
as the engulfing hurricanes swooped on the boat
that I’d I feel numb,
my limbs would shrink thus,
my features would be erased,
and I’d be contained by the moment of mist
the moment of presence
between the soaring of seabirds over my head
and the swirling of whales under my skeleton


They say...
O Adam, when you came
out of the clay,
so lonely were you
with innocent eyes,
with innocent lips,
and innocent mind
and heart
and sperm,
that you knew not
but pulses of fear
shaking your ribs
... that you took shelter in a cave
the jungle’s womb
to flee from your own heartbeats

They also say ...
that once while your mind was wandering

a ghost or phantom
from the land of the jinn
revealed itself in a woman’s body

They say
she broke open your door
played with your head
seduced you
that since she poured in your
thirsty mouth
the nectar of desire
from her lips
forests of apples
have grown out of your ribs

They say...
that since then
you’ve been staying awake all night
like lovers
dreaming the dreams of lovers
… that you’ve
become bold of eyes
bold of lips
bold of mind

They say ...
that since you stumbled upon her breasts
and tasted the jinn’s milk,
poetry has flown
out of your mouth
and since then
You’ve been crowned Prince of Poets


O our great grandmother
You, who were our original sin!
If you were just a rib
that Adam was robbed of
while he was
or drunken
whence have you brought those cunning eyes
that dispossessed Adam of his power
liberated him
and us
from the luxury of paradise


NIZAR SARTAWI is a Palestinian poet, translator, essayist, and columnist. He was born in Sarta, Palestine, in 1951. He is a member of numerous literary and cultural organizations, including the Jordanian Writers Association (Jordan), General Union of Palestinian Writers (Palestine), and General Union of Arab Writers (Cairo). He has participated in poetry readings and international forums and festivals in numerous countries, including Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Egypt, Kosovo, and India. Sartawi’s poems have been translated into more than dozen languages. His poetry has been published in more than 40 anthologies, in addition to journals and newspapers, in Arab countries, the U.S., Australia, Kosovo, Indonesia, Singapore, Bosnia, Italy, India, the Philippines, Russia, Switzerland, and Taiwan. Sartawi has published more than 25 books of poetry and poetry translations. He has written introductions to a number of books in both Arabic and English. Sartawi was awarded the first prize in translation by Al-Nour Literary Organization in 2013, and Naji Naaman Award for Creativity in 2017. For the last seven years, Sartawi has been working on poetry translation from English to Arabic and Arabic to English. This includes his Arabic poetry translation project, “Arab Contemporary Poets Series”.  He also has translated poems for a large number of modern and contemporary international poets from numerous countries of the world. Sartawi lives with his family in Amman, Jordan.

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