Poems by Abdyaghouth

Translated by Raghid Nahhas

A Rose in the Hand of an Infant

Oh Allah! This Earth is frightening…
It looks like a boiler brimming with vomit
We leap in it like monkeys
over your voracious flames
our heads shake
like in a saint’s dance
Oh Allah! I only want
a little home
the size of a rose
in the hand of an infant
nothing more
nothing more
nothing more!


Once upon a childhood
I dreamt of two women
descending from the sky
with arms like those
in Greek mythology—
it was as if they washed my heart
and flew away…
My mother came out
to the yard to see
a naked child
dazzled by looking at
two awesome stars!


Oh premature anxiety
which resembles a child
inflicted with cancer!
I want to sleep
like the rock of the valley
neither swept by rain
nor by The Resurrection!

The Tongue of Death

Our ancient house overlooked
a cemetery’s courtyard prostrated
at the feet of a massive mountain…
How can I rejoice now
as I speak to you in
the tongue of death
and the expanse of my childhood
is graveyards and mountains?

A False Grip

I feel the night like
a blind man
as I float in my bed like
a drowned man
in a pool of blackness
and sorrow
I listen
to the rhythm of my years
falling in the dark
after stone

like mountain rocks
a well

I pass my frail hand over the table
hoping to grip a year

The Unfamiliar Women

Ailing childhood,
and an ailing mother
distanced her breast’s passion
once upon a patched-cloth winter
and left me in the hands
of the unfamiliar women,
the strangers who
weaned me on a bitter plant
so I sucked tobacco and the lips of others,
gasping until my spittle overflowed!

My Mother’s Stove

Oh distant warmth when
on my mother’s left knee,
she combed my hair
once upon a muddy winter,
in front of the butterflies…
The sympathetic stove
was next to my brother,
so I slept under the wings of God
like a lover who fell into
the soul of his beloved
who had been in eternal sleep!


My father bathes me
At the steps of our house.
Water falls
like the awakening of the intoxicated
and I glow
as if I were running in the street
with patches of garments
as he scrubbed my head
my armpit
my pubes,
until I drew a watery smile
and watched the household
glancing at me
with naked laughter

This was
when I was

A Mysterious Train

Thirty years have passed
each year an empty carriage…
A mysterious sadness
descends on me
when I remember
I have never really existed!

Stony Fountain

My song is stony because
my voice, sometimes, falls
like mountain stones
swept by the storm
and sometimes
resonates as calmly as
a fountain on which
I poured my face
in a fleeting childhood of water!

A Tear

A tear awaits me
at the end of the night
by my bedside
It reproaches me if I stay long
in lands that are not mine
and when it wraps me in
its night cover
my soul roams past memories
and disappointment that
one day I won’t become a stone

Glory be upon those who
were born adults-
without tears!


I watch the mingling steps of passers-by
and the meekness of children and lovers
This all reminds me of things
which no longer belong to me
and that thus I was born;
indolently indifferent to the world
more than my indolence
at this table!


At some corner in this world
a child weeps from middle-age
folding his arms around his head
as if being whipped.
He knows…
that at another corner
in this world,
his soul is hiding
like a poem
hastily slipped
under a rock
there… there…
where the World is a child
whose eyes almost pop out
with laughter!


At night
when I place my head over my head
like he who places a rock upon a rock,
a lame fountain of memories flows
like children’s scribbles,
so I turn my face over my face,
only to see a corpse floating
all through my life!


Pure foolish life
with all its prostrations during
the morning prayer
and the harvest seasons…
With its night burdens,
it comes out like incense and tales
from the holes of mud…
the child’s eyes close on it
as he sleeps on his mother’s knee
and a stove burns with innocence
not touched even by a pure hand

Suddenly, like misguided rebelling molars,
the tooth of life’s wisdom
dreadfully protrudes and
grows into two devil’s horns
which I now furiously shake to
exorcise the ghost of his steps
chasing my distant
coloured butterflies!

A Bird in the Prime of Youth

The routes of hope are
particles of love falling off
the wing of a bird
to flower
blood on the soil,
and when he sets foot
on a high rock
he sees the world
an expanse of pain…
A long tear falls off
the furrow of his wound.
He wishes it would wash away
his marks on the ground!

The Shape of Death

God descends from high above
and asks about me
among the mountains
I run away…
because he resembles
the ghost of death.
Among the small scattered bushes,
I harbour an idea and turn…
as if bitten by a snake
and when I wake up intoxicated,
my hair over my shoulders
like a messiah in love,
I find traces of a god
who passed here and asked about me.
I become dancing clouds in my space
and try to come to grips with
an idea that torments me:
is death a god in the shape of a shepherd?

The Steps to the Grave

You had not been asleep
as they started your burial.
You woke up
over an extended childhood.
As they loosened the threads
of your shroud with biblical scissors,
you shed an abundant tear

and when the sound of
the steps of those escorting you
reached your grave,
like a sound you had
experienced in childhood,
your whole body
glowed with too much pain
for your grave to bear!

Abdyagooth is a poet from Oman. The above selection is from his first collection Tifl Yatanazah fi Maqbara (A Child Strolling in a Cemetery), Dar Abida Publisher, Cairo 2003.
Raghid Nahhas is a translator , an author for many books and an editor of Kalimat magazine in Sydney.

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