Lamia Makaddam – If it were up to Me …

Lamia Makaddam LE P&W Oct 2022

Download PDF Here Live Encounters Poetry & Writing October 2022.

If it were up to Me … , poems by Lamia Makkadam.

Translated from Arabic by Miled Faiza and Karen McNeil.

If it were up to Me …

if it were up to me, I would show you my breast flooding with love and seduction,
my high, silver neck,
my waist melting with warm touches and the remains of fingers,
I would have showed you my ass (sweet and lethal), my deep hips
and my constantly calling well
if it were up to me I would give you my lips—one by one—so you could taste life
my neck so you could liberate yourselves
my heart to elevate the ceiling of your expectations and expand your dreams
I would have given you my cheeks to blush your wishes
and my belly button to deepen the affection between you and life
if it were up to me I would do this and more
but poetry is a selfish guard, as you know
with a moustache so big birds dance on it

Something must Break in the End

you will find me every morning, a waitress at a cafe
my hair pulled back in a ponytail, giving you coffee with shaky hands and saying: “good morning”, or: “wake up, it’s nine o’clock”, or: “why are you spending all your
time on your phone? write an article or a poem instead.”
you will find me at seven o’clock in a train station,
waving you from platform to platform, and running between the riders to put my foot on the train threshold, so the door won’t close without you.
do not forget to go, there is always something waiting for us on the other bank.
and every year
every year,
you will find me in a bar or a nightclub
wearing farmers’ dress and dancing until
the end of the harvest, until the pickaxes are laid down
and the filled bags are stored.
you will find me in every word you write
in every woman you love
in every tree overlooking a house you haven’t lived in yet.
I will sing so much for you,
in spring and winter, while I am migrating from you and to you.
and when my wing breaks
do not be sad, something must break
in the end
so that we know that we are alive.

Love makes Woman a Man and Man a Woman

it is not enough for you to touch me with your hand
love is touching me with everything, with woman and distance
and a bunch of grapes
it is not enough that you take me under you and on top of you
you have to drag me by feet and into nightmares as well.
love is not a relationship between two individuals like they told us
but rather two universes melting, a mixture of water with water
it is to love women as if I were you, to lust after their breasts
to be riven seeing their naked flesh
to gasp when a woman lifts her hair with her hand to put it behind her
and just as you heart weakens when you see a hanging fruit
my heart weakens for the same reason.
without air between us we are breathless
without the sun rising above me and above you we are eyeless
the idea: love makes woman a man and man a woman
and makes water into love
and love into life
I incarnate in you like I incarnate in light and soil
and you incarnate in me like life and death
I arrive you only because I collected you from here and there:
some of your heart I brought from a train station
some of your eyes from glasses in bars
some of your skin from a cemetery
meanwhile you are here
and not here.

If I ever wrote poetry

for some reason unclear
I wanted to talk to you about the ugliness of cold
during the harsh winter night and
about my trembling fingers
about the desolation of absence and silence
about darkness hanging like dust bunnies from the ceiling
I touched my mouth and didn’t find my lips
I didn’t find my voice either
in the deep sleeps a warm happiness
whose is this scar?
and who is speaking this silence?


if I ever wrote poetry
it is because one of them had to cry
and if I screamed with a violence that destroys everything
it is because a door was shut on the fingers
of a girl somewhere in this world
the only thing that I can share with you is that leafy sadness …
it’s something we can share with love, anyway


all winters are the same
whether here or on the other side of the planet
if your fingers tremble, don’t write in this area
and if the absence fills your heart
then at least you know that there’s something
dwelling in it, write from that darkness
of what makes life bearable

The Bread Seller

one harsh winter
I was working as a bread seller
in a very small village
someone arrived
and he was hungry
so I gave him a loaf of bread
and took him to my house
there, on the threshold, he sat for years
feeding pigeons and cats from his hand, from the loaf
I gave him that harsh, dark winter
in a remote little village
for he was hungry
and I was a bread seller


I woke up one night and didn’t find him
didn’t find the loaf or the threshold
history or geography
seasons or their memory
but the cats and dogs
the rats, pigeons and worms
have never left my home since

© Lamia Makkadam

Lamia Makaddam, a Tunisian poet, who works and lives in The Hague, The Netherlands since the nineties of the last century.  In Tunisia Makaddam studied Arabic language and Literature at the University of Sousse. While in the Netherlands Makaddam studied Translation.  As from 2009, Lamia Makaddam was working as a journalist and radio maker by Radio Holland Worldwide.  In 2007 Makaddam published her first poetry book “Tasting to winter fruit” in Beirut.

In 2015, her second book “This poem has ended, this love has ended” appeared by Afaq Cairo, in 2016, in 2019 Makaddam published her poetry book ” in time and out of it” with Almutawasset in Milano. The same book was translated into Dutch and published under the tile: “you will find me in every woord I write”. Same book will appear in Italy this spring. Her Arabic translation of “You said it” which was about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes and which was written by the Dutch novelist Connie Palmen appeared by the General Book Organization in Cairo.

Her next Arabic translation “Malva” appeared with Al-Saqi in 2019. Some of Makaddam”s work has been translated to English, French, Netherlands, and Kurdish.  in 2000 Makaddam was awarded Al Hizjra Literature prise in Holland.  In 2018 Makaddam was appointed to a Duch jury for a national translation competition in the Netherlands together with Abdelkader Benali and the Arabist Petra Stienen.

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