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Words Without Borders is one of the inaugural Whiting Literary Magazine Prize winners!
from the October 2014 issue

I Am a Refugee

أنا لاجئ

My apologies, Sir,
That I come to you
As a refugee.
Accept me as a human being and not
As a slave.

Do not look down on me;
Do not look me up and down.
I am a poet;
My testimonies plaster the walls,
And people far and wide recite my poems.
Will you accept me among you
As a refugee?

They destroyed my poems, along with the walls they hung upon;
When they torched the verses, I burned with them.
They broke my mind;
They robbed my thoughts;
They stripped our insides.
Will you accept me among you
As a refugee?

Sir, you do not understand me,
And I do not understand you;
I am an Arab, and you a foreigner,
But we will speak through hand gestures.
Will you accept me among you
As a refugee?

In my country
There is only hell, no heaven.
They made me forget all words
In all languages. 
We have forgotten how to understand words
And one another.
Will you accept me among you
As a refugee?

Who and what I am . . . 
You’re asking who and what I am?
I am without a past,
Without a present,
Without a face;
I am a remnant of a person.
Will you accept me among you
As a refugee?

In al-Zaatari they killed us,
Buried us alive in the sand;
Our women now whore,
While we pimp.
Will you accept me among you
As a refugee?

In Lebanon they stabbed us in the back.
They bought and sold us;
They cast us aside, naked; 
They abandoned us, starved.
Will you accept me among you
As a refugee?

I knocked on Arab doors
The sheikhs, the emirs and the kings
All chased me away;
I came to you.
Will you accept me among you
As a refugee?

My daughters in exile disowned me
In my eighties.
They fought against me;
I have no one left but you. 
Will you accept me among you
As a refugee?

My family, my daughters, my kin,
All of them sold me out;
They pilfered my life and forgot me;
They uprooted me and left me to wither at the embassy gates.
Foreigner, will you accept me
As a refugee?

Wretched are the joy
And servility of thanking one’s masters,
And the fools of my nation,
And my daughters,
And the criminals who drove me away,
And burned down my home.
I have fled their tyranny
To become a refugee among you.

© Mohamed Raouf Bachir. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2014 by Thomas Aplin. All rights reserved.

أنا لاجئ

معذره يا سيدي 
إن جئتُ لاجئاً 
إليك....
فاقبلني إنساناً ...
وليس كعبد 
لديك

لاتنظر إلي 
بعين الصغارْ ...لاتتأملني ..
فأنا شاعر ...
شهاداتي تغطي الجدران ..
وقصائدي ترويها الركبان ...
فهل تقبلني لاجئاً 
لديك ..

أحرقوها كلها ...وأحرقوني 
دمروها مع الجدران 
أتلفوا عقلي ...
عبثوا بفكري ...
لم يتركوا شيئاً في الاذهان 
فهل تقبلني لاجئاً 
لديك ....

انت لاتفهمني يا سيدي 
وأنا لا أفهمك 
فأنا عربي ...وأنت أجنبي 
بالإشاره سنتفاهم 
فهل تقبلني لاجئاً
لديك ....

ففي وطني ..
حيثُ الجحيم ..ولا جنهْ
أنسوني الكلماتْ ..
في كل اللغاتْ ...
فنسينا كيف نفهم ..
ونتفاهمْ ...
فهل تقبلني لاجئاً
لديك ....

هويتي ...
تسألني عن هويتي ..
أنا بلا ماض
بلا حاضر ..
بلا وجه ..
أنا بقايا إنسانْ

فهل تقبلني لاجئاً 
لديك ....
في الزعتري قتلونا 
وأحياء في الرمال دفنونا 
نسائنا صرنا عاهراتْ
وقوادون جعلونا 
فهل تقبلني لاجئاُ
لديك ....
في لبنان ..طعنونا ..
باعوا فينا واشترونا ...
في العراء رمونا 
وجياعاً تركونا 
فهل تقبلني لاجئاً 
لديك ...
طرقتُ أبواب العرب 
كل العرب ...
الشيوخ والامراء والملوك 
جميعهم طردوني ....
فجئت إليك 
فهل تقبلني لاجئاً
لديك .....

بناتي في الغربه أنكرنني 
وفي الثمانين من عمري 
حاربنني ..
ولم يبق لي سواك 
فهل تقبلني لاجئاً
لديك ...

أهلي ...بناتي عشيرتي 
الكل باعوني ....
سرقوا عمري ...ونسوني 
وعلى أبواب السفارات زرعوني 
فهل تقبلني ايها الاجنبي 
لاجئاً

يالبؤس الفرحه 
والشكر الذليل لسادتي ....
والاغبياء من وطني ..
وبناتي ...
والمجرمين الذين شردوني 
وأحرقوا بلدتي ...
فمن ظلمهم هربت 
لاصبح لاجئاً لديك 
                                                   محمد روؤف بشير أسكندرون 1-9 -2013

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