Fadhil al-Azzawi

in my spare time

During my long, boring hours of spare time
I sit to play with the earth’s sphere.
I establish countries without police or parties
and I scrap others that no longer attract consumers.
I run roaring rivers through barren deserts
and I create continents and oceans
that I save for the future just in case.

I draw a new colored map of the nations:
I roll Germany to the Pacific Ocean teeming with whales
and I let the poor refugees
sail pirates’ ships to her coasts
in the fog
dreaming of the promised garden in Bavaria.
I switch England with Afghanistan
so that its youth can smoke hashish for free
provided courtesy of Her Majesty’s government.
I smuggle Kuwait from its fenced and mined borders
to Comoro, the islands
of the moon in its eclipse,
keeping the oil fields in tact, of course.
At the same time I transport Baghdad
in the midst of loud drumming
to the islands of Tahiti.
I let Saudi Arabic crouch in its eternal desert
to perserve the purity of her thoroughbred camels.
This is before I surrender America
back to the Indians
just to give history
the justice it has long lacked.

I know that changing the world is not easy
but it remains necessary nonetheless.


 The ship that did not arrive
The house that wasn't built
The road not traveled
The letter that did not come
The well not dug
The tree not planted
The cigarette not smoked
The coffee not drunk
The death that did not come
The life that did not begin

In every ship there is a smuggled traveler
In every house lost memories
On every road a returning caravan
In every letter a forgotten sentence
In every well a Joseph is weeping
In every tree a forbidden apple
In every cigarette a Red Indian
In every cup of coffee there's bitterness
In every death a drunken angel
In every life there are mourners waiting

At the border station
there's an officer who knows you well.
Shake his hand or smile at him
then pass by quietly.

Translation: Khaled Mattawa

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