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Untitled Poems III & IV


People are asses. I hang bells from their necks so they can sing to me while I recline on a rock.

People are fools. I’ll hang them up in the wardrobe like winter clothes.

May’s barley is about to ripen. Each stalk has lined up its seeds in orderly fashion so they can stand at the gate of heaven.

I can line up words without meaning.

I can create meaning from nothingness.

I tie a horse near the barley and meaning overflows.

Meaning is orderliness.

Meaning is coincidence.

Meaning is a beast of burden hauling watermelons.

If only I could line things up like a stalk of barley does.

Barley takes its own life in May, and wheat opens its mute mouth in June.

My time is the end of August.

At the end of August, my trigger snaps.

Oh, if only I could live in a glass of water; my roots white, my hair green, and the sun my only god.

I have one song I keep repeating. I have one great lie I’ve attached to the ceiling with tape, so that the flies of truth will stick to it.

My head is huge like a balloon. My hand is a destitute star, the knife is a painful simplicity I do not possess, and when I arrive at meaning, it is lost to me.

                                     —from Alanda




He was crying, so I took his hand to steady him and to wipe away his tears.

I told him as sorrow choked me: I promise you that justice

will prevail in the end, and that peace will come soon.

I was lying to him, of course. I know that justice won’t prevail

and peace won’t come soon, but I had to stop his tears.

I had this false notion that says, if we can, by some sleight of hand, stop

the river of tears, everything would proceed in a reasonable manner.

Then, things would be accepted as they are. Cruelty and justice would graze

together in the field, god would be satan’s brother, and the victim would be

his killer’s beloved.

But there is no way to stop the tears. They constantly pour out like a flood

and ruin the lying ceremony of peace.

And for this, for tears’ bitter obstinance, let the eye be consecrated as the truest saint

on the face of the earth.

It is not poetry’s job to wipe away tears.

Poetry should dig a trench where they can overflow and drown the universe.

                                     —from A Date for the Crow


Read more from our series by Palestinian poets.