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Check out our February feature of folktales from the Qatari oral tradition.
from the January 2020 issue

[I needed to wake up at 3:00 in the morning to make it to work]

In two poems, Ciwan Qado reflects on relentless poverty and longs for relief from the worries of adult life.


​I needed to wake up at 3:00 in the morning to make it to work
I said to myself, you can't go to work—you haven’t slept
Either sleep and don’t go to work
Or don't sleep but still don’t go to work.
I proceeded with caution
Like a marble inching toward the line
I opened my eyes.
The rain drizzled down.
Inside my head, a sound like banging the bowels of a cauldron
A chorus chanting the latest work anthem
My father's callused hands were my quilt.
I received a letter telling me, "You are a child!”
Is this accolade or insult?
I wish I were a child!
And could listen to the crickets chirp
From the foreskin Mohammed severed
And could wet my bed
And raise the soiled sheet as my homeland’s flag!

 

[My head was near the door.]

My head was near the door.
It was likely nearer to the door than the door itself.
It was as empty as the jerry can.
I owed 2,000 liras in rent for the house
And I had nothing but 12 fennel seeds, the remainder of my breakfast.
The landlord was washing dishes.
The windows of the door were broken.
The feet walking toward the door were broken.
And the mouths that should have given thanks and apologized were broken.
I had nothing but 12 fennel seeds, the remainder of my breakfast.


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

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