Ahmad Al-Shahawy – I was one and many

Shahawy LE P&W 7 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Seven Nov-Dec 2023.

I was one of many,  poems by Ahmad Al Shahawy.

I was one and many

I do not claim my right to anything
Except to my name
And the day I was born
And those who died from the family
And who was born
And who traveled
And the books that I read
And the ashes that are born from my fingers
And the lies I weave to entertain the only air with me in the rooms
Or for the ants to rewrite its surah without Solomon or his army
And the woman I loved
And the way to her house
And the roses that I carry
And my failure at swimming
And in hunting a bird
And in the sun that hit me
And stole my socks at night
I did not claim to own acres of skies
Or carats in the lands of poetry
I Just know that I enter the oven every morning
To knead poetry with music
And pour the color into the dough
And bake alone
And do not sell my bread to anyone
Only I am the buyer and I am the baker
So do not blame me now
And you do not even know my picture and my name
I did not say that I competed to put the point under the baa’ in
“Bismillah” in surat Al-Fatihah

And I did not say that I compete with the sea in its languages
Nor the river in its coquettishness.
And the river did not give me its fish
And it did not give my faces its water
Why do you blame me with what I have not filled in the palm?
Just as I say farewell
I know I was one and many
Who did not pollute the water
And who did not wade into the mud of light
And his hands carried nothing but dough of languages
And he was light on the water
And he flew only in the direction of the unseen
And his hands have not touched except the permissible catch
He lived more than what is allowed to a flower
Or to a butterfly confused from what the eyes of his hand have seen
And he measured the history of writing with the continues sleepless act.

I dislike and like

I dislike money
Because the golden spoon that was born in my mother’s mouth
Was lost early from her
So that she lived rich in death
And I like antique.
Because it is my rare poem that I am looking for a form for
And I am afraid to die without writing it
I do not like loud voice
Because it floats dreams from my orbit
And I like the new shoes
Because I am a fan of measuring distances
Between my feet and the mud from which the body has been created
I do not like singular number
Because it reminds me of my orphanage
And I like the farthest point
Because it means that light, no matter how far away, comes from my heart
I do not like the coward cloud
That escapes from the sun
And I like to travel alone
To recover the secrets that I hide from me
I do not like doubting my fingers
Because I know it is ten that blocks the eye of the sun
And I like the first word
Because it reminds me of walls that know my languages
And it travels to my hidden conscience
I do not like an empty paradise that only shelters me
And I love my absence in thirst
Because I will be complete in two things:
Poetry and whom I love

I do not like my eyelids falling suddenly in sleep
Because I am close to delirium
And I give the stranger a chance to see my secrets
And I like rain falling on her name
So that the grass grows in her hands
To heed and open a country that will be my caliphate
I do not like to be a copy of me
Because one Ahmed is enough in this world
So that tragedies do not overflow in the pots
And I like to be victorious in defeats
So that my sun is not enchanted in its heat
I do not like falling from high
Because death on earth is nostalgic for mud and has the poetry of the conclusion
And I like her vulva to be my freedom

No mirror in front of you to see you

How cruel it is to be without a shadow
No name for you and no dream
No place for you, no key in your right hand
To protect you from the cruelty of the night and the confusion of the day
How little you are when you are sleeping in ignorance
You like your lies that the sand enlarges for you
You carry what is not yours
And how you are many in uselessness
On the way, you lose those who care for you
And shelter you
And sit you down on words
Which quickly kicked you out of its letters
You will die alone without any inheritance
Nothing but blackness that fell from your heart
Because there is no mirror in front of you to See you
After the days punished you, and withheld the vision from you
And threw you in the ciphers box
Since your belly was filled with sand
And you became an abandoned door in your height
And you failed in mathematics
And you did not know the table that left you
The sun pities you
After it saw you naked from love
And missing the heart and tongue
And open to a sea of hate
You sold who lived under the stairs
And you sold the one who fell from the top of the scaffold
As he too anointed the sky for you
To see
Poetry also pities those whose legs are swollen
From excessive knocking on doors
And those who sold their manhood to unseen breasts
You know that poetry only goes to those with love in their hearts
And have a quest towards knowledge
And you do not realize that the sky does not give its name
Except for those whom chosen from among The people.

© 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.Four of his literary works are nominated in the long list of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in the branch of literature including his novel The Magician’s Hijab 2022. Also recently, Lavender Ink / Diálogos published Al-Shahawy’s poetry anthology entitled Alone by the Nile, 2023.

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