Sargon Boulus

(1944-2007 / Iraq)

Tea with Mouayed al-Rawi


Our cigarette packs
close to hand (that secret fuel) . . .
The babble of immigrants
slapping dominoes on marbletops:
a noise familiar once,
out of which
a word may flare up amid the smoke -
born there, refusing
to die here.
If we don't say it, who will?
And who are we
if we don't?

Not about what came
to pass; how it came, and passed!
But about this spoon buried
in sugar, and this finjan.
Not that Wall whose remains
are sold as souvenirs
at check-point Charlie where
only yesterday
they exchanged spies
and traded secrets of the East
and West, but this
wall painting facing us now,
with a harem from the days
of the Sublime Porte
who recline dreamily
in pleasure boats, on a river
guzzled down, in one
gulp, by history.

Let's say we have seen
a lot of walls, how they rise
and fall, how the dust
particles dance under the hooves
of the Mongol's horse,
how 'victory' laughs
its idiot's laugh in the mirror
of loss, before it breaks
and its shards fill the world
where we walk, and meet,
every time.
Translated by the author

Submitted: Thursday, November 14, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Tea with Mouayed al-Rawi in a Turkish café in Berlin after the Wall came down

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