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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2023
Another Calendar, poems by Ahmad Al-Shahawy
Translated from Arabic by Dr. Salwa Gouda.
Your eyes are another calendar
By which people know their ages
By which I know the universe
And who am I?
Your eyes are two high letters
From your name.
Two A ع letters from the book
The Eye of Time “ayn al-zaman”
Which Adam El Mansy wrote
In the Treasury of God.
The Flush of your body in the
Silk that never leaves me
Is still a sign for me.
I saw the language
Which refused to sleep
In the dictionary with your lips
Which made my way to love and poetry.
I Wish I had not given the Sun
an Eye to See
Nothing changes for the better
The sky without water
And the palm tree is high
The fire burns the dream
No sleep, no hope in the letter.
The walls are eavesdropping
They do not listen.
The house is devoid of its cats
And its air.
The basil tree that I raised
To resist oblivion dried.
No one else in my head but me.
The page is not enough for a word
Or one sentence.
Whiteness has become a prison
And I do not cry for a situation
In which myself has been betrayed
But the eyes are crying the time
Wasted in observations.
No line in the wall
It is just me alone in a weak sentence.
The moon is suffocating
My hands are tied
And no one can untie the hanging rope.
My head that I lay now upon
The wood of the bed knows
That it is rotten and possessed by demons
And that a thousand heads
Have preceded me to it
And it is dizzy from memories
And that its back is bent from the
Load of secrets.
They all left.
Treachery is their trait.
I wish I had not given
The sun an eye to see.
Weakness hit the walls.
I look for its causes in your setting sun
In your star that leads you to the abyss
From the horrors of what he saw.
He no longer believes his writing with his right hand
Nor the speech that sleeps in the line
Nor the speech said by the bird
And descend into a distant cave.
The tree of the lonely man has died.
The wood that supports the head decayed.
His cats no longer knock the door.
The lonely man whose sun is eclipsed
Sees the end closer than a bird
On his shoulders.
Silence has become a preferred language
And no rain in the heights covers the soul
Or supports speech.
The lonely man sleeps
And nothing in his imagination
But a flower smiling whenever
She saw the emptiness bleeding in his hands
And the goddess he watered dying far away alone.
The lonely man stretched out his ears
Like two stray rabbit skins
Or from the skin of the word “I love you”
Which he sees hollow
And more suitable for drums
Than other skins.
I am not the one to be inserted between parentheses.
I am not the one whose life sentence ends
With a question mark.
I am not an octopus who spreads his ink
For the traitors not to observe me.
I am a blank page
That does not not cast a mysterious cloud
Over its sky to confuse all.
Even the ants I raised carried their
Furniture at night for not
Seeing me in the dark.
Never live as a dry leaf again
Unable to write her autobiography
But she can only get her lies back
And salt them in a bowl of shame.
Between the river of the night and the river Nile
And heavens of darkness that
Mourned the drowning of many.
Their only sin is that they dreamed
Of swimming and ascending. MI ‘raj
As if Death is in a Vacation
I want it to be normal
Because I don’t like to be food
For fish, if I fall from a plane
On top of a calm or noisy ocean.
I do not like being hit by a car
In the hands of a reckless or
Or a man deprived of the mercy
Of his wife.
And from my excessive love
For the Nile
And my fear of the sea
And my failure to ride water
Drowning is not on my map.
But since the chin of Egypt
Turned to be long and shaggy
And the paths of life are harsh
My blood is waiting for a
Bullet in the back
Or a slaughter preceded
Or followed by takbeer
The angel of death will surely rest
As if on vacation
To give the son of sand
The honor of the award:
Death that does not burden the sky.
© Ahmad Al-Shahawy
Ahmad Al-Shahawy is an Egyptian poet and author of more than 20 books and poetry collections. His poems have been translated into many languages including French, Italian, English, Turkish and Spanish. He participated in many international poetry festivals organized in many countries of the world. Al-Shahawy was also the recipient of UNESCO literature award in 1995, and Cavafy Poetry award in 1998. Five of his literary works were nominated in the long list of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in the branch of literature including his novel The Magician’s Hijab 2022.
Salwa Gouda is an Egyptian academic at The English Language and Literature Department in Ain-Shams University. She is a PhD holder in English literature and criticism. She received her education at Ain-Shams University and at California State University in San Bernardino. She has published many academic books including Lectures in English Poetry, Introduction to Modern Literary Criticism and others. She also contributed to the translation of The Arab Encyclopedia for Pioneers including poets and their poetry, philosophers, historians and men of letters.