Alaa Khaled – Three Poems

Alaa Khaled LE P&W Jan 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing January 2023

Three Poems by Alaa Khaled.

Translated from Arabic by Amal Shafek


I talk to you
standing behind the curtain of life
I watch your unbounded eyes
like a sea resting its lids
at low tide
you, even absent lustful desire
your body softens
desire racing ahead of our coupling date
as if meeting fate, before fate follows its own and overflows


Your thumb lightly taping on my back
like indentations that gather water
rivulets between rain drops
this map which transforms my body to celestial galaxies
where stars glisten
and darkness deepens in between
the meandering lines your hypnotic thumb draws
scatter my body in all directions
map lines to gates of illuminated cities
at that moment
every part of my body marvels before the city’s gate
where he had a life
retrieved through your thumb
my scattered map


I live a dream as long as life
your face is still estranged to me, just like mine
but I am accustomed to life next to you
I do not look at myself often
this second life
after we have lost our first life confirming our truth
planting doubt in our features until they bled forth
perhaps from fear of traceless melted lives
we left this scar as our trace
We were, we are, and we will remain with many faces and lives
without betrayal
without abandonment
our life escapes us at night
our faces trade
but our heart remains one
returning to our eternal scar to recognize ourselves

© Alaa Khaled

Born in Alexandria in 1960, Alaa Khaled has published Seven Divans, the last one being For once only 2015, and 4 prose books. Khaled has written a biography of his home city, Alexandria, titled Alexandrian Portraits. Published 4 novels including Alexandria Labyrinth 2021. He graduated in Biochemistry, University of Alexandria, in 1982.

These poems are translated from Arabic by Amal Shafek.

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