I remembered you today

And that was ugly and sad

I was carrying a small amount of money

I bought with it some flowers from street children

Because it’s the cheapest in this cruel city

I went to the place we last said goodbye

And put the flowers there

I stood as if before a small grave

Wide enough for our feet

And for our embrace in front of the door

When you said, imitating my naïve accent:

“It really does seem you fell in love with me.”

You’re the kind of man who doesn’t believe love

But does it with others anyway


-Manahel Al-Sahwi

A Syrian poet


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

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. .

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