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from the March 2016 issue

From “Photograms”

Our country has no more warriors
only timeworn fig trees beaten thoroughly by
the thousand winds of our plight.
The barefooted angels with pathetic faces
at the bottom of our ramparts
die with each new light.
The scent of childhood is now nowhere to be found
no chance of nursery rhymes or sunshowers
what happened to the hours of ancient romance our dreamy
obsession with Al-Buraq’s powers?
Oh that horse-woman with the mane flowing longer
than the clouds over our houses crumbling
under our meager adventures!
What days will open hereafter
onto our prisons dense plastered with stars
and a hundred miles of silence?


I want to convey the blood
that is still pooled
in the realm of childhood
and the thousand seasons cracked stacked with the flesh color of
pale dawns and of images where we endlessly shatter ourselves
And cross the threshold of memory through the louvered shutters
one sole time
one last time
in order to keep intact the inhuman eternity
where we were those little poorly dressed kings
the cruel cowboys and the Comanche without mustangs
and unleash the dark storms of androgynous
princesses with hands of faded satin
all along our white lanes
all along our famed legends
deprived of impossible fruits
and drown in the seven oceans
our distress with this damned galaxy
that no longer knows how to dream . . .


I want to convey the last poem’s blood
with Casablanca’s pinkish blueness
with those old photographs that I love
the battles we fought seemingly endless

And eradicate the wrinkles on all the faces

And repopulate the rainbows with our laughter

And liberate our children from this middle age
our nursery rhymes too
once the color of honey

But I now have no more words
and my vocabulary has barely
oh barely in my two hands remained

Can we one day
name the fruits of the earth

live at home with a human face?


and I compose the poem
a silence broken like the tooth of
a dog drips in baroque
words dressed in the blood of hyenas
the night traces the leaves
dead on our walls
and on our walls shivers
a skeletal dream
to which are fastened
the dead of our Atlantic sea


For us our dead no longer call
Our language is kneaded into other woes
with stars rancid an offering much too small
and false kingdoms rich in violent blows


My coffin awaits me somewhere at the horizon
I want it in sandalwood with dreams
pinned down like butterflies in the sermon
of an adolescence of eternity so brief
May my skeleton blossom with the seasons
my blood euphoric will flow freely
up to the very heart of your solid house and
to the shelter of love to devour your Eves
wreathed in incurable religions
I will be the old earth of Babylon
with its gods its satyrs and its legions
I will spread in your beds my pallid cyclones
and far very far in your shivering regions
I will paint my death on a canvas of autumn


It’s an old kingdom of wreckage
that can no longer laugh or dream
Does it remember the flower turned savage
and the poets no longer able to see?

Its minarets like a scar
its ageless soldiers dead on their feet
and our cries are only murmurs
since our god reigns on his knees

With sky and too much silence words like a fire of seed hence we choose for ourselves a different adolescence

It’s a primordial kingdom of gradual death Draped in days we sleep there full of the empty Full indeed?



I am condemned to survive
in the midst of a muggy glade
where dismally drunk flowers strive
for a blissful middle age

My heart sways on the dead branches of trees
of a song cruel and so melancholic . . .

May my thoughts far from you carry me
toward the city where my future exists

I smooth the unseen new moons
a merry-go-round where I wander ceaselessly

I hate the hypocrite paradises you spew
your angels have killed all memory


The house of memory has left with the current
dead memory will dress me in cinders
tamed nights sad like a convent
nurture the empty smile of salamanders
My ancestors extinguished in a coat of fire
have grown tired of opening the doors to our dreams
and our dreams locked up in distant
cemeteries of a too-brief eternity
tear down to the blood their chests
we will have to burn the mountains of incense
to erase the sky at the root of our rage
and our lips sealed with mirages of a former age
will spit as they please on the bygone days
of a thousand louvered shutters with a wounded gaze

From Photogrammes. © Ahmed Bounani. By arrangement with the author's estate. Translation © 2016 by Emma Ramadan. All rights reserved.

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