blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2010  Vol. 9  No. 2
print version
translation by Fatima Mostafawi with Patty Paine

The Flood

To murder freedom
we don’t need generals,
or cannons. We don’t need
weapons of mass destruction,
or podiums.

Erect a dictator’s statue
in the middle of a crowded square
and watch
the pigeons fall
one by one.
Look how wisdom wears
the hat of obedience.


Coffee shops are havens
for intellectuals
and the unemployed escaping
houses haunted by echoes.

Prisons are built
for those who oppose,
for those who step
over the line, or fly
outside the flock.

The city is governed
by tyrants, wars are waged
by devils. The earth, like a grinder,
never stops crushing.

From which alley can we escape?
We are not lab rats
or horses trained for battle.
We are not your last bid
for power.


The clouds are aloof
and impede our view.
The cinema closes
our imagination. Quietly,
let’s reshape history
along its endless surfaces,
along its endless mountains.

Inscribed on the walls of cafés:
the science of atoms,
acronyms, long arguments
over lexicon, death
of the author and the francophone,
and there, the last word
on reviving democracy
from its deep sleep.  end

   The Flood
   Modernity in the Desert

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