Posted by: tsopr | July 1, 2011

Safaa Sheikh Hamad, Iraqi Poet

Safaa Sheikh Hamad is an Iraqi poet, writer and translator. He holds a B. A. and a P. G. Diploma in translation from Mosul University, Iraq; and an M. A. in English Literature from Pune University, India. His translation of Paul Wittek`s The Rise of the Ottoman Empire was published in 2010, Syria. His upcoming book, a Arabic translation of Maryam Ala Amjadi`s Gypsy Bullets, is soon to be published in Egypt. His poems and translations were published in Kritya, Poets Against the War, ILA magazine and others. His upcoming English poetry collection “Live from Baghdad” is to be released in 2012. He writes in Arabic and English.

                              Featured Poetry of Safaa Sheikh Hamad

“You speak to me of language, nationality, religion…. I shall try to fly by those nets”
A portrait of the artist as a young man, chapter 5.

Solo lives

Devoid of an episode
His soul felt restless in the maze
Many souls passed by his
But never reached the intimacy of the end of days

When he tried to set a dream
On the soil of the maze
They took him for a Byronic hero
Confiscated the buds
And locked him in a corner
There he met Stephen Dedalus
Weeping the molten wings of Daedalus

This is the land of no dreams, my friend, Stephen said,

This is a place where they lash your eyes by lashes
Dangle your legs by the road
Jail your brain in the claustrophobic skull walls
That never had emergency exits
To breathe dreams and aspirations
This land had a far reachable sky
With an arid desert of clouds
To quench not the thirst in the sighs

This land
I, not Stephen, said

Is a tear echoing across the
Ribs of my
Chest

Thus sang the troubadour

Coming from behind the sea of Atlas
Ships laden with cargoes of death
Hearts full of purulence
Minds that never cared about a soul
Led by the new Agamemnon
To smash Troy that never kidnapped Helen
Joy has been stripped off
Sadness hovered over the place
The vigilant watchman is sleeping with a whore
To live or to die is the same
For they both lost a meaning
The mad man in our village could not answer
Why we had to commit suicide
And give a cold shoulder to the godless heaven

Arabs of bad blood gave Agamemnon the sands
Ferdinand de Lesseps resurrected again
Had a toast of champagne with the new Pasha
Waved for the scum of the earth
Crossing Suez Canal to the desert of Arabi

Sheikhs of Arabia drinking mugs of espresso
Whispered in each other’s ears the news from Cheney
Had a few words with the devil’s advocate
And decided to say “NO” while their “YES” had already pushed the button

The rains in Kirkuk washed the gloom of the earth
But rainbow never showed up
For the red prevailed
It is war, carrying an obsession of mongers

Many men will die, sang the troubadour, Arabs
Kurds
Torkomans
Many men will die

March was an eye witness
And its nineteenth was the first to burn.

My little sister woke up in the early morning
She said Mrs. Mallaby of the yesterday’s bedtime story
Met her in a dream and was all alone
In her hundredth birthday,
There was no post card
No birthday cake with hundred candles
No umbrella for the rainy Sundays
No kitten mewed at her door

March was an eye witness
And its nineteenth was the first to burn

Apache
Cluster bombs
Scud missiles
White phosphorous

Were all death retailers in Mesopotamia

The little Umm Qasr under the flame
Reminded us of Leningrad
Sweeping the young dead bodies with a broom
Making heaps of souls
Preparing a meal for the ravens

Shock and Awe quaked the earth
Buttons unleashed death into the eyes
That is enough, said my friend and shut the radio off,
Tell them, I said to him
Tell them we had enough
Death
Shock
Awe

Tell them the Tigris had enough bodies of assassinated dreams
Euphrates vomited the sense of clarity
Shatt-al-Arab wept the death of the palm trees
The Gulf engulfed all the bitterness
Hugged the two rivers
Buried the bodies of the dead
Washed their blood off the salty beaches
And listened to the troubadour
Who was still singing,

Many men will die
Many men will die

March was an eye witness,
And its nineteenth was the first to burn

Father

Father?
Father!
Will I cry when you die?

Father was silent
Looking at three kids
Weeping a slain father

Father?
Father!

Father was silent
And I whispered a wish:
No father
No reason to cry

Live from Baghdad

Live from Baghdad
The night curtains are pulled down the horizon
Nothing but the dark
No one sways with me
When my heart releases the euphoric pulses
All void
All around
The faces sell nakedness cheep
The moon is a dead solar cell
A fraud philanthropist
Confiscating children’s books of history
Compensating them bitter lollypops

Live from Baghdad
The pain is the galaxy
The Milky Way is the trail of Abeer
The rooms that once had doors
Oozed out the couples flirting
What is left of the piano but fat legs
And the gone memory of the old book of tones!?
Sometimes
The alienation that gallowed
The kisses of my loved ones
Become a refuge
For the sighs that sounded like shrieks

Live from Baghdad
And the dumb soldier is shooting in the air
Not always of course
For he likes to wipe out
The exclamation marks guns carve on the foreheads
Here, Esteban Murillo can paint many small beggars
And windows that never brought hope
Tomorrow is a future clothed in history rags

Live from Baghdad
Not so live
Live enough to cry the moment of eternal despair

Grief

“Baghdad was always a beautifully young woman, and…raped every time she goes out for a walk with her lover” A no longer friend of mine.

The pedestrians walked on the road side
But the echo of their steps
Was heard in the sewage tunnels

While their eyes were still looking up.

The young woman who dialed 24434
Couldn’t talk to God. His voice was breaking
And refused to change his place.

At the renaissance of barbarity,
There were only three people left:
A tongueless rhapsody to recite my misery,
A clown with one thousand faces to mock me,
And a whore with ten o’clock legs to remind me
That the roads are many
But they all lead to Baghdad.

Heads and Tails

Having captured ten innocent people for no reason but being different in how they worship God, the militia thugs, in one the streets of Baghdad 2006, are told through the radio that there is a place only for six.

In a dark street of Baghdad,
Where empathy begs shelter
From villains with guns and ideologies,
Heads and Tails is the game.

Man down
No one cares
Two
Three
Four
All down

And no one cares

The dead were from the other side.
Their blood was blue*,
And they had only families
And dreams to cross the bridge alive.

*In Iraqi countryside culture, someone with a blue blood means someone different.

Copyright © 2011 Safaa Sheikh Hamad

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