Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Michael R Burch Oct 2020
Mahmoud Darwish: English Translations

Mahmoud Darwish is the essential breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging ... his is an utterly necessary voice, unforgettable once discovered.―Naomi Shihab Nye



Palestine
by Mahmoud Darwish
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

This land gives us
all that makes life worthwhile:
April's blushing advances,
the aroma of bread warming at dawn,
a woman haranguing men,
the poetry of Aeschylus,
love's trembling beginnings,
a boulder covered with moss,
mothers who dance to the flute's sighs,
and the invaders' fear of memories.

This land gives us
all that makes life worthwhile:
September's rustling end,
a woman leaving forty behind, still full of grace, still blossoming,
an hour of sunlight in prison,
clouds taking the shapes of unusual creatures,
the people's applause for those who mock their assassins,
and the tyrant's fear of songs.

This land gives us
all that makes life worthwhile:
Lady Earth, mother of all beginnings and endings!
In the past she was called Palestine
and tomorrow she will still be called Palestine.
My Lady, because you are my Lady, I deserve life!



Identity Card
by Mahmoud Darwish
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Record!
I am an Arab!
And my identity card is number fifty thousand.
I have eight children;
the ninth arrives this autumn.
Will you be furious?

Record!
I am an Arab!
Employed at the quarry,
I have eight children.
I provide them with bread,
clothes and books
from the bare rocks.
I do not supplicate charity at your gates,
nor do I demean myself at your chambers' doors.
Will you be furious?

Record!
I am an Arab!
I have a name without a title.
I am patient in a country
where people are easily enraged.
My roots
were established long before the onset of time,
before the unfolding of the flora and fauna,
before the pines and the olive trees,
before the first grass grew.
My father descended from plowmen,
not from the privileged classes.
My grandfather was a lowly farmer
neither well-bred, nor well-born!
Still, they taught me the pride of the sun
before teaching me how to read;
now my house is a watchman's hut
made of branches and cane.
Are you satisfied with my status?
I have a name, but no title!

Record!
I am an Arab!
You have stolen my ancestors' orchards
and the land I cultivated
along with my children.
You left us nothing
but these bare rocks.
Now will the State claim them
as it has been declared?

Therefore!
Record on the first page:
I do not hate people
nor do I encroach,
but if I become hungry
I will feast on the usurper's flesh!
Beware!
Beware my hunger
and my anger!

NOTE: Darwish was married twice, but had no children. In the poem above, he is apparently speaking for his people, not for himself personally.



Excerpt from “Speech of the Red Indian”
by Mahmoud Darwish
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Let's give the earth sufficient time to recite
the whole truth ...
The whole truth about us.
The whole truth about you.

In tombs you build
the dead lie sleeping.
Over bridges you *****
file the newly slain.

There are spirits who light up the night like fireflies.
There are spirits who come at dawn to sip tea with you,
as peaceful as the day your guns mowed them down.

O, you who are guests in our land,
please leave a few chairs empty
for your hosts to sit and ponder
the conditions for peace
in your treaty with the dead.



Passport
by Mahmoud Darwish
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

They left me unrecognizable in the shadows
that bled all colors from this passport.
To them, my wounds were novelties―
curious photos for tourists to collect.
They failed to recognize me. No, don't leave
the palm of my hand bereft of sun
when all the trees recognize me
and every song of the rain honors me.
Don't set a wan moon over me!

All the birds that flocked to my welcoming wave
as far as the distant airport gates,
all the wheatfields,
all the prisons,
all the albescent tombstones,
all the barbwired boundaries,
all the fluttering handkerchiefs,
all the eyes―
they all accompanied me.
But they were stricken from my passport
shredding my identity!

How was I stripped of my name and identity
on soil I tended with my own hands?
Today, Job's lamentations
re-filled the heavens:
Don't make an example of me, not again!
Prophets! Gentlemen!―
Don't require the trees to name themselves!
Don't ask the valleys who mothered them!
My forehead glistens with lancing light.
From my hand the riverwater springs.
My identity can be found in my people's hearts,
so invalidate this passport!

Keywords/Tags: Mahmoud Darwish, Palestine, Palestinian, Arab, Arabic, translation, Gaza, Israel, children, mothers, injustice, violence, war, race, racism, intolerance, ethnic cleansing, genocide
Chad Young Sep 2020
You look like the blessed Middle East.
Your smile is like 1000 Fatimas.
Your eyes so full and ready to serve humanity.
Jet black hair that portrays the night.
Cream skin like Pistachio ice cream.
Several hundred eyelashes as rays of a dark lit sun.
A nose of a hundred thousand prostrations to God.
To touch your jacket would give off
a mystical scent.
To straighten your tie would be a service to Mother Mary.
Fingers like petals of lillies.
"Hi Chad" you whisper with an ecstatic Hijaz.
Legs forgotten by a million Quranic recitations.
Pious seal of purity.
"I am not the beauty you seek" the black globe of your eye
betrays.
One hundred 'Ali's have circled round me.
Ten Yusif's have proposed.
"I am a fairy tale like no other" you let out
with a diamond glint in your eye
"You and me, we'll make a love that cannot be forgotten."
"I will make you worship at my shrine."
A thousand Husayns cannot handle me.
I am my daddy's little girl.
You must pray five times with me
every day we are together.
You must testify to Muhammad
as the Seal of the Prophets.
"What of the Qaim?" I plead with her.
She replies, "Of that I don't know."
"Then a thousand mirrors of beauty are still shut
to you joon."
"Though you are moonshine of the Twelve Imams,
I must send you on your travels
and leave this page with a sploch."
Pinterest pilot picture
Aseel Sep 2020
.
نحن الذين نُجيد الكتابة عن الحب جيدًا
لا نجدُ من يُحبنا كما نكتب
Arabic
Michael R Burch Jul 2020
Excerpts from “Travels with Einstein”
by Michael R. Burch

for Trump

I went to Berlin to learn wisdom
from Adolph. The wild spittle flew
as he screamed at me, with great conviction:
“Please despise me! I look like a Jew!”

So I flew off to ’Nam to learn wisdom
from tall Yankees who cursed “yellow” foes.
“If we lose this small square,” they informed me,
earth’s nations will fall, dominoes!”

I then sat at Christ’s feet to learn wisdom,
but his Book, from its genesis to close,
said: “Men can enslave their own brothers!”
(I soon noticed he lacked any clothes.)

So I traveled to bright Tel Aviv
where great scholars with lofty IQs
informed me that (since I’m an Arab)
I’m unfit to lick dirt from their shoes.

At last, done with learning, I stumbled
to a well where the waters seemed sweet:
the mirage of American “justice.”
There I wept a real sea, in defeat.

Originally published by Café Dissensus

Keywords/Tags: Einstein, Adolph, ******, Berlin, Jew, Jews, Arab, Arabs, Palestinian, Palestinians, Vietnam, Vietnamese, American, Americans, Yankees, Domino, Theory, Dominoes, Jesus, Christ, Bible, Christian, Christianity, Slave, Slaves, Slavery, Israel, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
Just was a desert,
a land of sand,
Where people got nothing
but tanned,

When years passed
and they discovered oil,
Time had come for them to uncoil,

Thus riches and wealth
knew no bounds,
Now world’s tallest
skyscrapers surrounds,

They pray five times a day,
No wonder god has blessed
them so much they say,

The dollar world itself
looks at it with awe,
Afraid of losing it’s glamour
tries pointing each flaw,

Not worried they still continue
to grow with pride,
Tired finally the dollar
world tries to bribe,

Wealth should be shared
between the brothers I feel,
To those of whom one meal
a day is a big deal…
September 2017
J Nc Dec 2019
Golden olive arab eyes
Gods only know that look belies
Raw emotions there residing
A force, to rival time or tide
Or maybe just a passing thought of passion from ago

Anadulterated love or hate
Her capacity for each, so great
Mercurial, maternal journal
Of passing days with eyes alit
On fire, in frenzy, champs at bit
Or maybe she'll just dance

Or sing a song, puff on her ****
Shes fine as **** in nets or thong
But classy, unlike wiry roughnecks
Trying to tag along

My goddess of the cradle,
She'll send me to my grave
From hair breaths,
A hairs breadth before I drown in satin

Her love shines through like bright white linen,
She lights me up
In prayers, in sinnin
Frantically, she gives her all
She spends herself
Heeds every call
For help they ask and ask and take
Dont tell her that love conquers all
She knows thats ****
And shes no doll of fragile porcelain,
She'll fall and bounce right back but better
Howd i ******* go and get her
To fall for me, cause im no catch
A schlub from that ol black gold patch
An angel, just like Lucifer
Was, upon a time
She sees in me what I can't see
And when those eyes are cast on me
I wither like the ashes of burnt paper
Or my life
I hope some day she'll let me (if i were her, i wouldnt, bet me)
Make my queen my love-ed wife
...
J Nc 12-31-19
Sabila Siddiqui Dec 2019
A nation that seeks to craft
what the forefathers draft;
a declaration of independence,
a nation of acceptance and coexistence.

A nation that weaves laws
for the ones of different colors,
wears,
and of worship —
building a homage for them all.

A nation with the vision of a blend of culture,
welcoming them into progressing lands  that play the tune of harmony
as blankets them in safety.

A tolerant nation
of multicultural lands,
and foreign tongues.
Building Seven Pillars
that stand tall and high
to inspire and ingrain
tolerance in every
crannies and nooks of the nation.

This is UAE.
b for short Aug 2019
“To us, white girls are exotic,”
says my Arab American boyfriend.
At that moment, my brain ceases
to make sense of those words
in that order.
Exotic? White? Girl?
Me? Me. He means... me.
So this is what I say
to my Arab American boyfriend
who has
more culture in his pinky
than all of white America combined.
From what I can tell,
to be white in America is
boring static,
AM radio on a Sunday morning
with a broken dial
on a back road in the boonies.
It is the culture born by everything borrowed but wrongfully claimed
as its own invention.
To be white, in America, tastes like
cream of wheat
with no hope of brown sugar.
It is a tumbleweed-kind-of-rootless
and just as desert dry.
It is colorless, odorless, tasteless—
and will choke you slowly
if you don’t build up a tolerance.
But
if you’re lucky enough
to be white in America,
for about a hundred bucks
and a swab of the cheek,
the Internet can tell you
where you came from.
Even if that makes you feel cultured,
tomorrow you will wake up
and still be
white in America.
To be white in America, I thought,
was as far from exotic
as the self-loathing, middle aged guy
behind the counter
at your local DMV.
But white girls, he says, are exotic.
Perhaps it’s because pumpkin spice
oozes from my pasty pores,
or that “there ain’t no laws
when you’re drinkin’ the Claws.”
Maybe he couldn’t resist the fact
that the Starbucks barista
knows my order
better than my name,
or that my hair blowdries pin straight—
no matter the time of year.
I wonder if it’s the combo of
black leggings, messy buns,
and work out tanks—
or the fact that I think I’m saving the whole ******* sea turtle population
with my stainless steel straw.
Exotic?
Maybe it’s my compulsive nature
to buy in bulk, to pet every dog I see,
and to cry over Queer Eye episodes.
It couldn’t possibly be
the steady diet of rom coms,
my collection of Birkenstocks,
or the apple cinnamon candle
burning on my windowsill
that reminds me of “fall y’all,”
but then again, who knows?
To me, my whiteness is a privilege
that will forever be misinterpreted
as entitlement by every person
who checks that “white” box
on the form
without checking themselves too.

“To us, white girls are exotic,” he says.

White girl is just happy
he likes her in spite of it.
Copyright Bitsy Sanders, August 2019
Next page