Yahya Al-Samawi

Born in Iraq in 1949, Yahya Al-Samawi has been living as a political refugee in Australia. The author of more than eight collections, he has been largely concerned in his latest works with political themes, which address, among other issues, Iraq’s predicament in the years following the Gulf War and his opposition to the regime.


My Love Humiliated Me

My love humiliated me
So did my wound that extends from the palm tree’s braids
To the people’s bread
And when the Tartars one night besieged me
I crossed the wall of the massacred homeland
Anxiety was my provision
Terror was my water
I roamed the fires of the East
The gardens of the West
With no companions
Except residues of my home’s ashes
The clay of the Euphrates and Tigris
Splattered on my clothes
I searched for my childhood
In the memory of days
In the refuse of oppressive wars
Seeking my city
Looking for my beloved among this age’s captives
Uncovering my roots
A sweet enchanting Euphrates
Suddenly I saw a palm tree on a sidewalk
I shook it
Tears flowed down over my face
And when I shook the earth’s trunk
Oh God Iraq surges in my heart

The Last Poem

I want for myself:
twenty hands,
A sheet of paper large as a tropical forest,
A pen big as a palm-tree,
A well of black ink,
to write my last poem
Pouring in it my anxiety,
the paleness of children who exchange their school bags for beggars’ tools, their toys for shoe-shine boxes
My last poem long as the night of Iraq
Where I place the agonies of my homeland
itched on a guillotine’s edge,
And the wailing of widows and bereaved mothers.
And read it from a pulpit atop a mountain
Or from the electric chair waiting for my head’s arrival
-Before I begin death’s slumber without nightmares-
bandages cannot smother my fires
rivers and rains can neither quench my thirst
Nor drench my arid life
Hand me the instruments of writing
I don’t practice my freedom except on papers
Let me die on my papers
Let a poem be my tomb
I will have no tomb in my homeland
Give me the tools of writing to dig up my grave
If not I shall begin my last sleep
But do not close my eyes
I want them to stay wide open like the door of our huts
Like the hands of beggars
Let them stay open
To see what is darker: my grave or Iraq?
For twenty years I searched in my home for my homeland
Oh, If only I could gather the fragments of my corpse
my frequent moves between internment camps
and underground chambers of torture
Scattered my memory throughout Iraq
For twenty years lovers in my homeland exchanged their letters in their dreams
And met each other only in funeral processions.

Translated by Professor Salih J. Altoma

Source: Tahayati.com: http://www.tahayati.com/englishalhadif/my-love-humiliated-me.htm