Skip to content
Announcing the winners of our 2020 Poems in Translation Contest in partnership with the Academy of American Poets. Read more.
from the January 2020 issue

[Only the madman has stayed behind in the city]

[Bitenê dînê bajar li bajar dimîne,]

An abandoned city’s lone inhabitant rages against his surroundings and those who left in this poem by Ciwan Nebî.


Only the madman has stayed behind in the city,
Barefoot
On cold nights
Shots can be heard!

What does he have to fear?
He has no kin,
No kingdom but the city.
He’ll resort to anything!

He calls out to those who have abandoned the city
As if they took what’s left of his mind with them, and all his cigarettes!

He calls out in the rain,
Staring at the void around him,
At the sidewalks,
At the city.
He grabs the nearest umbrella
And falls asleep as if nothing has happened!


© Ciwan Nebî. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by David Shook and Zêdan Xelef. All rights reserved.

[Bitenê dînê bajar li bajar dimîne,]

Bitenê dînê bajar li bajar dimîne,
xwas, di şevên sar, xurxura gulleyan…

Wê li ser çi bitirse?!
Ne zarokek li pey wî,
ne kişwerek ji pêvî bajar,
kêferata ku dike!!

Qîr dike kesên ku bajar bi tenê dihêlin,
weke ku aqilê wî
yê mayî bi xwe re biribin, bêçixare mabe!!

Qîr dike li bin baranan,
li valahiya derdora xwe dinihêre,
li rêyan,
li bajar,
sîwana herî nêzîk dibijêre,
û radize weke ku tiştek nebûyî!!

Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.