Majid Alhydar

The Psalms Of Rakoom The Black - Poem by Majid Alhydar

Majid Alhydar

The Psalms of Rakoom the Black

This collection of odes, written in the old Dahma'i language, was found at the ruins of the ancient city of Rakoom the Black (Rakoom al-dahma') . The facts that these odes (or Psalms, as named by their unknown author) possess a great scientific importance and cast more light upon a critical period in the history of Dahma'i civilization motivated a group of our venerable historians to issue this reliable, precise translation.
N.B. some lines or words in the original text are unreadable (seemingly intentionally erased) and are replaced by sets of dots between two brackets.

The Higher Committee of Archaeological Research
29-2-2960 A.D.

Psalm No. I
'A psalm dedicated to the love of Man, by the blind minstrel of Rakoom; when he was in the prime of his youth, before They tear out his eyes'

O, Man!
How many times I recite the odes of thy glory!
Thy virtues I try to count
But fail to reckon.
Trees go high and high
But thou art the most splendid.
And those summits struggling with the clouds,
Thy glory is reaching beyond them.
For thee the storms are and the clouds.
For thee the sun, and bird's melodies.
For thee the dissolute poems and the solemn ones.
For thee the vines and the swarms of bees which buzz over the fields.
Colours, tones and horizons
Are all, yea, all, for thee
Only for thee, the one whom I would never
Be tired of singing for his love.
Not in vain I write my poems.
My songs are not out of imprudence.
Thou art beneath my shirt and
Over the strings of my lyre.
I say nothing but the truth,
Hence I will witness,
Hence I will confess
That I love thee!
Let me, then, bow
To read thy hands
While they make their miracles.
Let me listen to the eyes of the doves
Which pick up the grains from them.
Let me touch their plumage which
Knows well how to praise thee.
Then come with me
And look at that lonely boat.
Gently come near and listen
To the swaying moan
Of his longing for your joyful presence.
O, my venerable old man!
Absorbed in maps and (…) and microscopes.
When you take off your eyeglasses,
And stroke your goatee,
Thinking how to overcome a new puzzle.
I will step to thee
And kiss thy inky fingertips
And thy sweating forehead!
Oh, my enamored young man!
Thy doleful whistling as you wander
Over the desolate dock
Is nothing but a heavenly song
No one can sing
But the winged angels!
For you I bow
My wandering sheep.
For you I weep…
For the wolves that are coming!

Psalm No II
'In Longing for the Tempest'

Why, then, happened all this?
Why came the tempest then soon fled
Leaving me here
Ruminating on my odious grief?
What I thought to be a blessed travail
Was but a spell of an old recurrent mania.
O, glorious tempest, come back!
And overthrow the dome of my magnificent sepulcher.
This silence did wearied me and
In the roaring thunders of yours,
In thy luminous lightening,
In thy furious billows
My salvation is.

Psalm No. III
'By the Imam of the Songsters, when They expelled him from the city.'

In my braveness of heart I call you.
Like a rotten old scientific fact,
Like a song the musicians are bored with,
Like a spit I send in the air,
I shall mention your names one by one…
That I am…I am.. Oh, my heart's aged!
I am tired of thinking of you,
You who are (……..)
Sinking for ever in the black mud!
(….) Was it because I gave shelter
To one blind lark in the inviolable altar?
Was it because I queried the secret of the crooked backbones
In this offspring
You extradited me to the night guards
And tore my eyes out?

Psalm No IV
'An incomplete one '

As they are driven to the forsaken slaughterhouses
Where each balloon is filled
With a thousand souls and sixty songs
Released as scolding letters sent to the gods
By the 'sage and guardian of Rakoom'
At that time I shall love thee ever more than before
And tie our souls with a thousand string
Made out of my veins
To the old sacred tree,
The tree of suffering and pain and blood,
The tree of free(….) m.

Psalm No. V

In Rakoom thou canst try to laugh or weep.
Nothing would come out of thy chest
But feeble rattles of death!
Oh, in vain thou endeavor!
Thy face is distorted by the prolonged fear!
(…) our barren women (…)
(…) our castrated men (….)
Yea…. yea…
Yeas behind the closed doors and before the mirrors.
Yeas in the air and between the folds of the garments.
…. behind us, before us
We fear from our children lest they (….)
Hints from our raving.
And we fear for them.
O, babies, don’t grow up!
Axes are awaiting!
My head is cracking! !

Psalm No. VI
'The sacred pond'

Alas to the galaxy that
Never yet arrived
To the Promised Oasis.
The oasis that God promised
When He released it
In the face of time-place.
It wept and begged
As did the cranes that begged me
When missed the last opportunity
To overtake a star that soared
Beyond the boundaries of eternity.
The galaxy cried, the cranes wept,
But I withstood
Taking refuge with the sanguine chords of silence.
Seasons were collapsing before my eyes.
Years where freeing there legs,
Hurrying after my unhurried pace
While I roamed and roamed
Around the poisonous pond.
Curiosity almost killing me
Every time I see in the water
The visage of my father, roaming
Around a poisonous pond
In which he sees
The visage of his father
Roaming, roaming, roaming..

Psalm No. VII
'to the dawn'

Why is late the dawn?
Is it true that Aurora is dead?
We have been awakened to pay
Our morning prayers, but
They have not, yet, kindled the kiln
For morning bread.
Cows we have not heard their mooing.
Hungry kids have not kicked
The doors of their barns.
Oh, we have forgotten
What the voice of the roosters looks like!
coldness is killing us!

Psalm No. VIII

Women of the villages
Crawling to the cemeteries
To sleep with the ghosts
And give birth to children
With gloomy faces
And sad eyes
Like the eyes of old men
Burying their children
In times of war and drought.
And this is my bleeding mouth
Palsied by the levanter..
Is still chanting.
But tears betray me and silence comes over me
When I remember my lyre
And look at my dexterous fingers,
My long dexterous fingers
That was run over
By the iron wheels.

Psalm No. IX
'outside the city walls.. in the wasteland of Rakoom'

And you, predacious eagles!
What prevents you from praying upon me
While I am alone… in this endless space
Made of mud and blood?
Me, the armless.
Me, the eternal sleepwalker.
Me, the corpse,
The staggering half- corpse!

Psalm No. X
'to his murdered friend'
And take me back to my home.
I am bored with blood in the streets.

Psalm No. XI
'A psalm to the voices'

Enough, enough of that! I shout.
O, patriarch of golden temples,
Stop, for this evening,
Your boisterous prayers.
Allow me to listen
To the voice of the rain
Dropping on the gloomy roofs.

Psalm No. XII
'By the master of the players of chords, secretly, to the concubine of the king'

O, little adulteress!
O, hungry daughter of Rakoom!
Didn't I cover you with my veil
When the drunk cast you away
Under the poles of street lamps?
Wasn't it me who gave you
The bread of the temple to eat?
Didn't I give you it's holy wine to drink,
And buy your sins with my blood and prayer?
Don't curse me, my daughter
Don't rejoice at the misfortune of mine.
I was in chains
When They took you
Out of my house
To dance, naked, in front of the king!

Psalm No. XIII
'an elegy for Rakoom'

O, Rakoom of my early boyhood!
O, orchard of daisies dancing to the dawn,
Washed by dewdrops haunted with charm and mysteries.
O Rakoom the pure, the virgin who gave
The wine of here femineity
To a sailor whom she never knew.
A sailor who cast here over the first harbour.. and departed.
O, my Rakoom! The lady who struts
In dresses of pearls and velvet.
O, the most noble sinner in the world of ours!
How it came that you are naked, hungry
And denied by the old lovers?
O, Rakoom of lasting travel!
O, the smell of fresh bread
Made in allies of the poor!
How it came that my mother died,
The kiln faded away and the lights in our home
Are blown out?
O, Rakoom the beloved!
O, Rakoom the vanquished!
O, the most formidable execution room
In the world of ours!

Psalm No. XIV
'A psalm for destiny'
Wailing wagons take us away.
They bring us back.
All in vain!
These distances,
These territories, open plains and prairies.
These restless hands of hours.
Are all in vain!
We sleep, we wake up.
We listen to songs.
These times of drunkenness.
All kisses.. deaths and births.
Couches of pleasure and eternal beds of earth.
But all these things are in vain!
O, vainness, bitter vainness
That I never had won, for a single hour,
Your embrace.
O, virgin with cut feet,
That soars, for ever soars
Away from the sky of Rakoom!

Psalm No. XV
'A Psalm for tomorrow'

Fifty years from now,
Perfumed letter papers, and the small shops
Which sell wine and bread,
All will cease to exist.
Fifty years from now,
Our children will be vaccinated,
By orders from The Eternal Master,
Against love and poetry…
And damned flower allergy.
Fifty years from now,
We will grow fifty grieves.
Fifty years from now,
Doors of the city will be locked
With further fifty padlocks.
Fifty years from now,
Who of the witnesses will survive?
Fifty years from now,
Selah! ... Fifty years!
Psalm No. XVI
'A psalm for the harvest'

A bitter harvest it was, O, my daughter!
That we waited and waited.
Spaces and dreams
Turned black as coal.
As the sun snowed ashes
When shone the stone sun of The God of Rakoom.
When the moon retreated in her boat
Taking refuge with other skies.
When Water lost his virility,
And Earth her lust.
Then we reaped blackened apples
Having the odor of betrayal;
Blood-red milk;
Honey of pus;
Lunatic sparrows;
Salty wines;
False bibles;
Delusive miracles;
Dubious songs;
Legions of feverish locusts;
Immortal grief,
And a life,
Selah, a short life!

Psalm No. XVII
'A psalm to feet'

And I said I shall sing this song to thy bare feet.
Thy feet which lost their way
To the gate of the great city wall
And strayed in the fields of The Lord.
Thy feet/ two children running after the clouds,
Wading in brooks of virginity,
Sweet like stolen kisses,
Washed with clay and tiredness,
Slim like the shadow of an old Buddhist,
Pallid like a summer dawn,
Playful like a reckless wave,
Wise like a dropp of water,
Burning like tears of repentance,
Clumsy like a handwriting of a young lover,
Unconcealed like the secrets of a poet,
Then I raised my voice in my vault.
The prison guards said 'he's been mad.'
To this I raised my voice again,
Listening to the ringing of my rusty chains.
And said I shall acclaim them:
Thy soaring feet
Because they....'Forever mock every fading metal'

Psalm No. XVIII
'A psalm to a maid'

To a the girl that has not come yet
I shall light a candle.. two.
To her I shall burn incense
And sprinkle rose water.
To the child.. whom I will never see,
I shall dance until the morning
And drink a thousand toasts.
To my little baby
Who comes out of endless graveyards.
To my daughter, the daughter of my brother,
My father and my teacher whom I have forgotten
I shall sing in her day which I wait for.
And I shall cry…
For I… will not see her….

Psalm No. XIX
'a psalm for her'

O, mad wise sacred adulteress!
How many a poet passed under thy window
But you cast like a foul mulberry
And sat there….
By your open window
Oh, waiting….. waiting…

Psalm No. XX
'a psalm to boredom'

Like the figure of a withered saint
On a dusty icon
My head is encircled
With an aureole of boredom
That sends out its tufts,
Pair after pair,
To swaddle my collapsing body.

Like a putrid gel of blood and mud
Swept at midnights
Away from dooryards of slaughterhouses
By ancient mademoiselles
Exhaling from chests about to depart for ever
An orange smoke
Swarming with bats
And dreams which won't come true.
Like the sperm of an aged billy goat.
Like a rusty scalpel.
Like a coagulated language.
Like the sleep of usurper sultan.
Like the morning after mother's death.
Like the sweating of an adulterous wife.
Like the socks of a dead soldier.
Like this emptiness.. emptiness.. emptiness..
Encircles my head,
An oriole of boredom.

Psalm No. XXI
'A psalm to my chains'
And O, my crazy cold chains
You've never been beautiful
And won't be…..

Psalm No. XXII
'A psalm for the road'
And after forty double days
I shall feel tired
And sit at the secret pond
And long immerse my head
In it's silent silver water.
I shall warm myself near the fire set for me
By my blind sacred patroness
Then let my eyes wander in the road
That throw itself under my feet
Like a sleeping serpent.
The road From which I came.
The road that sinks in the mist of the ravines.
Then I shall set my eyes at the heights,
At the road in which I shall go.
The blue road that twists
Sinking in the clouds of the mountains.

Psalm No. XXIII
'A psalm to the tribe'

And here I am, trying since the seventh day
To open some stubborn petals
To sleep in or die in.
Here I am, getting more reluctant
Till the language between us would vanish:
I soar with my delicate wings of innocence
While you dig your tunnels
With claw of authority's iron.
Every morning I exchange a bag of my blood
For a new book in which I spell
Clear warm letters.
While you open, with closed eyes,
A sole book rotted by dampness of centuries.
Every evening I open my windows to the sun
And search for the stars behind.
While you hide in the shadow of sticky threads
Vomited by thin-skinned spiders
Which dream of flying
But grow airsick.
I collapse then rise up, you rise up to collapse.
It's a destiny of ours.. distorted for ever:
For you the sword, for me coughing.
For you the scepter, for me wild iris.
For you this day, yesterday and tomorrow...
For me ….. nothing for me!
And like the ticks of a secret clock
Chases me the tearing
Between concealment and declaring,
And hold, like a wipe stained with blood,
My despised glorious lineage,
And wander among phantoms
For whom, from whom I cry.
It's a destiny of ours
To remain there,
Sleeping forever under the feet of a crooked date-palm,
A pre-last martyr!

Psalm No. XXIV
'A psalm in the memory of the fire'

When the prophecy told you
That Rakoom will burn
The way out was crowded with leaving wagons.
But I was alone,
Walking along the road leading to it,
To water my olive tree.
Oh! .....
No children are left over in Rakoom but me,
The blind old man!

Psalm No. XXV
'A psalm for the coming'

I shall certainly die thirsty
And much rain will pour after me.
Good appetite for you who are slumbering
In the wombs of the coming days!
You who are feeding from placentas of tomorrow.
You who are sucking at the breast of fre(……) .
I do not want you to remember me,
That won't be helpful for me.
But I pray to the gods
That you never face the trial once more:
All this blood!
All this blood!

Psalm No. XXVI
'A psalm for the ruins'

O, my Almighty!
Is this then…
All that has remained! ?

Majid Alhydar, a contemporary Iraqi poet, writer and translator

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 19, 2010

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