A bloody shaft of light
shone under our door between their compass & the north star
so the road passed through our house out toward the estuary.
Its stones are our tears which silted in our chests until we spat them out.
The road smashed the Janus-faced mirror & flasks of the perfumers
and left us nothing but the clouds to dwell in
with our mouths, as our pockets, stuffed with sand. 


Rains taught him how he’d evaporate from the earth’s body.
The cat taught him how to sleep in the shadows of roses.
The well led him to concealment.
The leaves are going yellow, shouting, whirling about,
so he listens to the pulse of the tree.
The world is tearing through
tatters fluttering like banners in the amphitheater
where madmen swam in our wounds pleading they’d not heal
nothing will stop all this blood but the sun & the wind. 


Our dreams remember our dreams.
Like drenched cats we took shelter under the tree when it rained
and big droplets put out our cigarettes.
Flashlights moved across the theater of clouds.
The hankies were sodden. Chairs were abandoned
where I waited for your hand.
Roots lifted the pavement slabs in front of us
and I concealed your craving on my shoulder
like the tattoo of an unfulfilled desire.


The drowned came back with pebbles & the stove was
         black as a burnt pot.
The scissors in your hand are the tail of a dead swallow
& your heart is weaving light shafts & straws as one rug.
The moon of your prayer is full,
it will share its body’s loaf with you
& roll like a grindstone of chalk over the cloth of evening.
We will wear what the blind wear,
meanwhile the wrinkles pain raises with its hooves inside your guts
crowd into the corners of your mouth & eyes:
no place but your face. 


There is a sea tossing & perspiring under the soil,
& a young man is sobbing because he’s seen bread. This is your son.
Stretch out your hand & push at this rock with your touch.
From beneath the headstone a thirsting wave comes forth
and places a kiss on the palm of your hand
quiet as this grass, slight as the scarf on your head. 


If you came back alive to your mother
you would see her tattoos drop blue as perfume,
you would see her mouth's
blood-red cracks,
the names peeling from her salty lips,
you would hear her tongue which made god descend
to smell insomnia's remnants in the rooms' corners. 

You would come back
hungered as an idea you're afraid would die
and if you opened any door,
to reassure yourself or to leave,
you would open perplexity.
The mirror would come closer, higher.
Like two old enemies
your eyes gaze into your eyes. 

© Golan Haji. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Stephen Watts.  All rights reserved.


لمعَ تحت بابنا

الشعاعُ الدامي بين بوصلتهم ونجمِ الشمال

فاجتازتِ الطريقُ بيتنا راحلةً إلى المصبّ.

أحجارُها دموعُنا التي تراكمت في الصدور حتى لفظناها.

الطريقُ هشّمتِ المرآة ذات الوجهين وقواريرَ العطّارين

ولم تتركْ لنا إلا الغيومَ نسكنها

وأفواهنا كجيوبنا محشوّةٌ بالرمل.


** ** ** ** ** **


علَّمَتْهُ الأمطارُ كيف سيتبخّرُ من جسدِ الأرض.

علَّمَهُ القطُّ النومَ في ظلالِ الورد.

أرشدَتْهُ البئرُ إلى الكتمان.

تصفرُّ الأوراق، تصرخُ وتتطاير،

فينصتُ إلى نبضِ الشجرة.

العالمُ خارقٌ كالحِراب،

أسمالٌ ترفرفُ كالراياتِ في الحلبة

حيث سَبَحَ المجانينُ في جراحِنا واستعطفوها لكيلا تندمل

ولا شيء سيرقأ كلَّ هذا الدم سوى الشمس والريح.


** ** ** ** ** **


أحلامُنا تتذكّرُ أحلامَنا.

كقططٍ مبتلّة احتمينا بالشجرة حين أمطرت

وأطفأتْ قطراتٌ كبيرة سجائرَنا.

أضواءُ الكشافات دارَتْ على مسرحِ الغيم.

 غرقتِ المناديل. خلتِ الكراسي

حيث انتظرتُ يدكِ.

رفعتِ الجذورُ حجارةَ الأرصفةِ أمامنا

وأخفيتُ على كتفي وحامَكِ

وشمَ رغبةٍ لم تتحقّقْ.


** ** ** ** ** **


الغرقى عادوا بالحصى، والموقدُ أسودُ كقيعانِ القدور.

المقصُّ في يدكِ ذيلُ سنونوةٍ ميتة

وقلبُكِ يغزلُ الشعاعاتِ والقشَّ في سجادةٍ واحدة.

قمرُ صلاتِكِ اكتمل،

سيقاسمُكِ رغيفَ جسده

ويدورُ كرحى الطباشيرِ على قماشةِ المساء.

سنرتدي ما يرتديهِ العميان،

بينما التجاعيدُ التي يرفعها الألمُ بكلاليبهِ من أحشائك

تزدحمُ في زوايا الفمِ والعينين:

لا مكانَ إلا وجهكِ.


** ** ** ** ** **


ثمة بحرٌ يتقلّبُ ويتعرّقُ تحت التراب،

وفتىً يبكي لأنه رأى الخبز. إنه ابنُكِ.

مُدّي يدَكِ وزحزحي هذه الصخرةَ بلمسة.

ستسري، من تحت الشاهدة، موجةٌ عطشى

وتطبعُ على راحتكِ قبلةً

هادئةً كهذا العشب، رقيقةً كخمارِ رأسك.


*** **** **** ****

إن عدتَ إلى أمك حياً

سترى قطرةَ الوشم زرقاءَ كالعطر،

سترى الفم

شقوقَهُ الدامية

الأسماءَ متقشِّرةً عن شفتيهِ المملَّحتين،

ستسمعُ اللسانَ الذي أنزلَ اللهَ

ليشمَّ بقايا الأرق في زوايا الغرف.



جائعاً كفكرةٍ تخشى أن تموت.

وإذا فتحتَ أيَّ باب،

لتطمئنّ أو تغادر،

فتحتَ الحيرة.

ستدنو المرآة وتعلو.

كعدوّين قديمين

ستحدّقُ عيناك في عينيك.


Golan HajiGolan Haji

Golan Haji is a Syrian poet and translator with a postgraduate degree in pathology. He was born in 1977 in Amouda, a Kurdish town in the north of Syria. He studied medicine at the University of Damascus. He has worked as a translator from English and American literature, and has translated Robert Louis Stevenson's Scottish classic Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde into Arabic. His first collection of poetry in Arabic, Called in Darkness (2004), won the Al-Maghut prize in poetry. His second book of poetry, Someone Sees You as a Monster (2008), was published during the event celebrating Damascus as the Capital of culture in 2008. His next collection, My Cold Faraway Home, was published in Beirut. He lived in Damascus until he had to flee his country, and has now settled in France. Golan Haji contributes regularly to the cultural press in Lebanon. He has participated in many poetry festivals in Syria and all over the world.


Translated from ArabicArabic by Stephen WattsStephen Watts

Stephen Watts is a poet, editor, and translator. His own most recent books include Gramsci & Caruso (Periplum, 2003), The Blue Bag (Aark Arts, 2004), Mountain Language/Lingua di montagna (Hearing Eye, 2008), and the long poem Journey Across Breath/Tragitto nel respire” (2011), with Italian translation by Cristina Viti. Recent co-translations include Modern Kurdish Poetry (Uppsala University, 2006), A. N. Stencl’s All My Young Years (Five Leaves, 2007), Meta Kušar’s Ljubljana (Arc, 2010), and Ziba Karbassi’s Collage Poem and Adnan al-Sayegh’s The Deleted Part (both Exiled Writers Ink, 2009). Current works include an updated edition of Mother Tongues, a Selected Poems of Ziba Karbassi, further co-translations of Slovenian and Romanian poetry, and an online bibliography of post-1900 world poetry in English translation. In 2008 he was awarded a three-year Arts Council grant. His book of poetry, Ancient Sunlight, is forthcoming in 2013 from Enitharmon. His poetry has also been translated into Arabic, Persian, Czech, Bengali, Finnish, Slovenian, and other languages.