Basim Furat

Basim Furat was born in Karbalaa, Iraq, in 1967 and started writing poetry when he was in primary school. His first poem was published when he was still in high school. In early 1993 he crossed the border and became a refugee in Jordan. Four years later he arrived in New Zealand. The death of his father when he was two years old, the fact his mother was left a young widow and his compulsory military service for the Iraqi army in the second Gulf War have had a large influence on his poetry. His poetry has been published all over the world, and has been translated into French, Spanish and English. His first poetry book in Arabic was published in Madrid in 1999 and the second one was published in Amman, Jordan, in 2002. He is a member of Union of Arab Writers and is the New Zealand co-ordinator for Joussour, an Australasian Arabic/English magazine.

 

Departure
Translated from Arabic by Abbas Al Shiekh
Edited by Mark Pirie

Friends depart
Followed by dreams
Lighting deep their paths of alienation
Their intimacy is forlorn
Their roads are fading
Their strength is failing
Their wishes taken by surprise
And commit suicide …. commit suicide …. commit suicide ….

They draw spring as a patch for them
And never return
Only to find autumn chewing into the map of the country
They seek the help of the two rivers, but destruction in its full attire
Is running in an area called home

Friends depart
Sea is swallowing their moons
Airports are archiving them in the oblivion basket
Borders are exclamation marks in their lives
But they did not crook their cross
Their memories are still at the house
Courtyard rocking their childhood

Friends depart
Friends depart

Friends d e p a r t e d

Source: BMP!!: http://nzpoetsonline.homestead.com/bf11.html.

 

I crossed the borders accidentally

Translated by Abbas El Sheikh
Edited by Mark Pirie

The only loser of the wars was me.
So, I hung them up reluctantly,
And went searching for myself
And destruction was whinnying in my shoulder.

The smell of splinters
Is a prolonged nausea;
I pull the repeated defeats
And line them up on the table
So that they will wound the decorations.
I hang up a long history on the window
And hang up my life on a bullet
Suspended from a far away heaven;
My fingers are remnants of ancient cities
And the seal of the dead are my steps.

Oh Sun wait for me,
To pick up my mornings from a pavement;
There is nothing on it but my body
And remnants of skulls decayed by alienation.
Depart away not,
To let me gather my splinters
From a hole in the clouds.
I distribute my years among the newspapers and journals;
My years are dried like sultanas.

Those ashes of wars suffocated my soul
And dried the oil of childhood at my door.
The door released me
Stinging my mornings,
And countries escaped between my fingers.

I crossed the borders accidentally -
My decorations are question marks,
Distances are whinnying
And their coldness kneels on our lives
Crushing our days,
And my dust is covering the walls and windows
But does not come near to my stature.

Since the stroll of the first war -
I mean the foolishness of the General -
I have entered the city
Like a dog
In whose face the houses are barking.

My mother arranges the stars, which are mixed
With her hair,
And drinks tea in which she dissolves her sadness.
Roads are streaming on my feet
And the fruits of the trees are dangling
On the horizon.

Horizon is an illusion for the eye -
Who can hold its shadow?
Our mistakes are a homeland leaning on a spear
And our dreams are growing on balconies.

Honey is fermenting on your tongue
Translated by Abbas El Sheikh Edited by Mark Pirie

I am trying to restrain my shooting stars in vain;
My neighing is flowing and you are my desired one.
It is just in vain ... deliriums!

How did you leave the doors and roads spinning around
And not take notice of the stars falling between your fingers?
At that moment I was nowhere,
But suddenly you whetted my soul.
For you I draw on the passages of estrangement from other homelands
And the heaven between my fingers is forlorn.
I cover it with mewing poems
And head to you, hearing the forests singing
And the seas stay aloof.
I see a desert moistening
And head to you, listening to silence,
Taking with me nothing but the geography of pain -
And I never arrive...

Will the rest of my life be enough
And a little of dreams?

You are my holy soil,
Your eternal morning is budding with poems.
You are the wave,
We crown your childhood with your glamour.
You are our mirror;
In your hands are the keys of wisdom,

 

Infinitely South

And I say: In the far away
There is something calling for remembrance
In the cities exhausted by the sea
I dump my dreams
I have souvenirs from wars
And from cities' wounds
I have the tears of reeds,
The sighs of date trees,
The revelation of oranges
The blood of myrtle 
There on the map of my childhood
I left an innocence pierced 
By the rot of the military 
The barracks stole from home
And threw me to exile

God and I are alone
There is an eternity seeking shelter in me
And forgetfulness abandons me
Leaving the smell of bombardment in the corridors of my life
And in the far away I say:
War takes me by surprise and sweeps away my happiness
All I catch is a mirage
Without a passport
The Euphrates ignites its waves for me
All things point to you
But nothing reminds me of you 
The heaven bends for you to cross
A thread of butterflies awaits at your door
Far-reaching singing of birds 
And a transparent coo touches the paper
And in the whiteness of it all there's a long revelation
And I say: in the south there is a south

The woman of forty ignores that
My father was the most cheerful of all the murdered
His bravery left us with hunger and the gloating of others
And through thirty lunar years my mother waited
Until she herself became waiting
Childhood that was darkened by poverty and orphanage
Is here scoffing at me
At my life now darkened by war and exile
Wherever I lie, I find the Euphrates lying beside me
Extending its dreams to me
Dreams crammed with bombs and sirens
I wake up and roam the streets
Weakened by memories
Exchanging bombs' splinters with roses and poems
The aggression of bombardment with Mulla Othman Al Mousilly's lute
And the Maqams of al Gubbanchi

For the sea made wet by the songs of sailors 
Tears resting on its shores
Keeping lovers and children amused,
Shells falling asleep on the eyelids of the waves
And rocks reclining on its waist 
Counting the wishes falling from those passing

War also has its songs
Those that drenched the bosoms of mothers
With wailing and anxiety
Windows wide open for waiting
With no-one approaching
Doors eroded by sadness 
And whose steps are crumbling
Dreams dragged along the streets 
Oh streets, when will I see . . . 
The death procession of my grief?
Pale streetlights exhausted by the frost

And for war . . . 
Bombs whose heads rest on 
The pillows of our bodies
And sleep inside us
The murdered in their pockets
Sparrows fight the morning
And play with an orphan star forgotten by the night
Letters flow with the dawn

And I say:
Oh gasp of the south
Oh son of the sun
And the rivers whose mouths spit catastrophe
Just as prophets and holy books emanated from you
Wars have always failed you 
And you found yourself outside the borders of home
And once you thought of home
You were swallowed by exile
You blow your years and ashes is what you find
And scared that your dignity might be buried 
Every night you have a party 
For the Tigris in the farthest south
There's no south behind me so I can say: 
Here's my homeland
Nor is there south in front of me to cut through
I am the absolute south
Equipped with a long history of war and tragedy

Glories polluted by the whips of the governor 
And the general's ribbons of "honour"
Stripped me naked in the forbidden land
My night is filled with details of the barracks
The nighttimes password
The officer on duty
And the death squads

All the women I've known
And all women
Whose lust I am going to poison
With my foolishness
Have sniffed the neigh of hurdles in my breath
And my hallucinations
Have provoked their femininity
In the night's darkness

And I say:
Oh gasp of the two rivers
To shake hands with my alienation
Should I set my roots on fire?
And cast thirty years out to the sea
To make a feast for the fish
Do I have to take off my shirt
Which is full of bombs,
Insults and sanctions
To be embraced by--
A sky that doesn't belong to me
And I say:
Oh gasp of the two rivers 
In the far away cities
There is something calling for remembrance
In the distant lands exhausted by the sea
I dump my dreams
I have souvenirs from wars
And from cities wounds.