Don’t Come, Late Night Translation of an Old Poem for the Broken Hearted

She tells me
with a dry smile
that she’s coming on Friday

My heart leaps out of my chest
I flounder
look at all corners
breathe slowly…
between glancing at her
and staring at my feet
if she had noticed the cracks in my breath
and if she would confiscate my emotions
like she did my heart…

I feign expectancy
while reminding her of my place of residence
and I watch her laugh
then leave
following her with my eyes
staring at her crooked figure
while thinking about what to wear when she comes…

She calls
he mother is sick, she won’t be able to come
in that moment
I was swept with a massive desire to kiss her!
thanks for not coming
and especial thanks to your sick mother
send her my regards

She knows
that the closer she gets
the space between us widens
but she
despite this
still insists on stitching my torn dress
I appreciate this but
the dress no longer fits me
so take whatever is left of it and dry your sweaty brow and leave me
to look for another dress

“Did you send your mother my regards?”
“Tomorrow? No, I’m busy, maybe next week.”
I say while searching the telephone book
for a hired, cheap assassin
and think whom should I kill of her family
so she won’t come next week


How to read the Syrian body: Lebanese racist ideologies and politics of difference

the interrogations of shamshouma

The story of the Syrian body as seen by Lebanese eyes is not a new one, it dates back to the time when Syrian workers migrated to Lebanon and became cheap labor, around the country’s largest institutional and urban development in the 1950s.And cheap labor, with time, cheapens the body itself and disciplines it. People then would speak of the Syrian worker as someone coming from dark places of Syria, unknown barbaric villages that manufacturepeople who were completely different from Lebanese. “Not all Syrians are backward”, the story went, “but these people who come to Lebanon and work in construction and other cheap form of labor, come “men wara al ba2ar”, they are dirty, ignorant and stupid”. Somehow labor exploitation disappears onto the Syrian worker’s body, thereby making it as ontologically different and alien, not just for middle and upper class Lebanese but for their fellow Lebanese…

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A Washed Up, Old Poem for Mother’s Day

When I think of what’s it like
to grow up,
I think it’s that moment when you’re old enough to understand
why your mother didn’t smile
that day,
or why she was crying
while washing the dishes.
You think:
“hey, I’ve grown a little bit.”

But it’s sad- it’s very sad.
You wish that moment hadn’t come when you’ve realized,
maybe mama has a life of her own,

But you can’t accept it!
You just can’t.
Your mother is supposed to be that marvelous creature that radiated every morning,
that made the best of foods,
that had kisses with magic healing abilities.

She’s your Goddess,
and Gods don’t feel pain, but assimilate ours
into them.
But then you grow up
and think:
“maybe she isn’t a Goddess after all.”

Though you still can’t accept the fact she’s just a human.
she defeats the evils in the world
and protects you while you sleep
at the corner of her broken smile.

And like that,
mothers veer into our minds,
carrying the stature of a nameless creature;
not God, not human,
just a bunch of coherent words we run to
when we forget how to read.

You grow up to understand
that maybe,
just maybe
your mother had a good reason to have been so mad that day.
Maybe she had a good reason to not force a smile that dinner.

Maybe we shouldn’t have watched her back as the sound of the faucet’s water
covered the sound of bitter sobbing, while we tried not to make a sound and alert her to our presence,
fearing she will know
-like she always does-
that she’s not what we
perceived her to be.

To realize that,
mama, too, can be defeated.
That’s what it was like for me,
to grow up. .

When They Ask You About Syria

They ask, what is life like inside Syria?

It’s many things, but mostly, right now, it’s exhausting.

It’s exhausting to those who, like me, do not reside in areas of conflict. It’s exhausting because we’re not really there and yet everyday life reminds us, snidely, whispering in our ears, that we are.

It’s exhausting because we don’t really know what’s happening.

It’s exhausting because you feel betrayed. But who did it? Who pushed the button? Who was the first to fire back? Who was the first to declare war?

When was the fruit plucked, and who tempted them to pluck it?

There surely is a culprit, but with so many parties roaming around it’s frankly hard to pinpoint the blame on one party when everyone seems and sounds guilty. Even you, in your little apartment, away from the chaos, are guilty.

Of what? I have no fucking idea. But you are, and you feel it all the time. You feel it when you eat, you feel it when you go down for a walk, you feel it when you have money in your pocket, you feel it when you wash the dishes, and the deliciousness of warm water on your skin is riveting.

Sometimes this guilt makes you feel like standing in a crowded street. There’s no place for your feet. People are walking around you, numb, drained, their eyes glassy, indiscernible. You sense that only you still possess enough conscious to avoid bumping into others. The rest of your fellow country people become terrifying; you don’t know them anymore. Everyone are distant, unapproachable.

But, perhaps, you’re the one who’s distant and approachable.
They say, I don’t read the news anymore.

Good. Good for you. How much is the yogurt?

A lot. A lot of money.

You buy nail polish instead. You’re not hungry anyway, you just wanted the yogurt because the yogurt is an essential part of the Syrian experience and you want the Syrian experience. You still want to feel that this is Syria and you are Syrian and you are eating that special Syrian yogurt that is unlike any other.

You cannot eat the nail polish. Now you’re hungry. And extra guilty. You bought an unnecessary item when many of your fellow country people have nothing to eat.

You apply the nail polish. There are no instructions to apply the nail polish so you have to figure it out by yourself. I’m sorry this is so but it’s just how things are. Stop whining. No, no don’t cry. Now now, there’s no point in lamenting the unbought yogurt.

The first layer of this nail polish is basically transparent. This angers you. You apply another layer. The first layer hasn’t dried yet, so they kinda mingle and collect instead of spread.

This nail polish is made somewhere outside Syria. It is laden with conspiracy. Even applying it is being conspiratorial! You are helping the enemy by endorsing in their products. Bad citizen. Horrible citizen. Absolutely unpatriotic!

No more nail polish, your mom says.

Your mom secretly paints her toes and covers them with socks.

You don’t like your fellow country people anymore, but you like your country, at least you think you do. They taught you to like your country, so you probably do like it. But you don’t like your fellow country people anymore, you’re certain of this, and you have a sneaking suspicion that the feelings are mutual. They don’t like you either, you’ve become a burden. One more mouth to feed. But you’re not hungry! I mean you just bought nail polish instead of yogurt, why do they have to treat you like this?

Why does everyone act as if this country is theirs and theirs alone? I have an idea! Let’s all create our own countries. Me, you, that man rummaging in the garbage. We could all make a country.

Right, you want a flag? I will help you create one, after all, this is a national movement, or maybe a goodbye party, either way, I will help you in designing your flag.

Oh you want the two stars in the original flag? But I wanted them first, so you can’t have them.

Seriously? Do you even know what the fucking two stars represent?

Me neither.

They probably represent something but it doesn’t matter, because I called for them first.

What the fuck, you can’t use my nail polish to paint your stupid flag. I call this whole plan off! Back to Syria, no country for everyone, return to your parents, play time is over.

You don’t want to go back to Syria you say? But you were just fighting for the two stars. Ah, right, you don’t know their meaning. Obviously you can’t use something you don’t know the meaning of. What will you say when diplomats and ambassadors ask you what they mean? It would be embarrassing to not have an answer.

Silly, you just created your own fucking country! Who cares what foreign ambassadors have to say?

Now that you have created your own country, we, as the international community, implore you to take Syrian refugees in. Open your arms. Haven’t you seen what is happening to their country?

Oh, you’re not watching the news anymore?

Good. Good for you. News lie anyway.

to be continued… sometime in the future… maybe

Give Me the Flute and Sing

Fairouz, one of the, if not the greatest singer Arabic music history has ever known. This song is a masterpiece, a combination of poetry and music that captures the soul in a trance, leading you to a place of unparalleled beauty, a place of love and salvation; it’s a celebration of the human spirit, of the human ability to find wonder in the details of our everyday existence. I present my average, and lacking, translation of the song. I hope you like it.

Give me the flute and sing, for singing is the secret for immortality

and the soughing of the flute remains, after the ceasing of existence

Did you make of the forest like me, a home away from castles…
traced streams and climbed rocks?

Did you bath in perfume and dry yourself with light
drank dawn as wine in goblets of the unseen between sky and earth?

Give me the flute and sing, for singing is the highest form of prayer
and the soughing of the flute remains, after the ceasing of existence

Did you spend the afternoon like me, between grape wine
and tufts of grape hung down like chandeliers of gold?

Did you camp on the grass at night, and covered yourself with space
heeding not what’s to come, forgetting what had transpired?

Give me the flute and sing, for singing is the justice of hearts
and the soughing of the flute remains, after sins cease to exist

Give me the flute and sing, forget malady and cure
people are but lines, written in water.

My Country

My country is countless hours in a doctor’s waiting room, suffocating with ill people.

Stolen kisses in dark alleys and corners

Extra money in the hand of an officer

Long blackouts

An unfinished building that has become a landmark

Hearty laughter followed by quiet sobbing

Old tires kept in historical buildings


My country is elites disconnected from reality

And poor people too consumed by reality


My country is the forgotten lover and exhausted beloved

And above all, my country is a falafel stand with questionable hygienic standards, but you eat the falafel anyway, because it’s goddamn good.

Because you’re hungry.

Because it’s cheap.

Because it’s cheap.


When I leave
I’ll take my desert with me
To carry the desert in your heart
is to carry a smoldering sunset
and a smoldering sunrise
it is to carry the weight of poetic words
The desert is heavy
with all its emptiness
yet its marvel is that
it does not resemble a shallow vase
but a place of wonder
a land of divine revelation
the desert is a curse
and a blessing
it is around you but you cannot see it
it is present yet not really there
Do not wait for the desert to reveal itself
like it reveals everything else
the desert is no mother
yet we are its children
it loves you but knows no commitment
it screams
but is solemn
yet exposed
we can only be free
once we recall
how the desert belongs to no one
and because we are the children of this desert
we, too, belong to no one