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 … Continued
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
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,
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.
The Voices Education Project offers tools, philosophies, and learning methods that will help young people understand the roots of conflict and the trauma of war, confront the pain and fear at the heart of conflict, and help to build healthy human communities in the wake of war. We use the arts and education to transform the consciousness of young people, give teachers and students a way to explore the most important and terrifying issues of our day, and create a dialogue in which all voices can be heard, and all points of view included, without engendering fear, hatred, or anger.