Taha Muhammad Ali

Taha Muhammad Ali Poems

Ah, little notebook,
yellow as a spike of wheat
and still as a face,

You asked me once,
on our way back
from the midmorning
trip to the spring:

We did not weep
when we were leaving-
for we had neither
time nor tears,


Neither music,
fame, nor wealth,
not even poetry itself,

If, over this world, there's a ruler
who holds in his hand bestowal and seizure,
at whose command seeds are sown,


Poetry hides
behind the night of words
behind the clouds of hearing,

At times ... I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,

The street is empty
as a monk's memory,
and faces explode in the flames
like acorns—

In his life
he neither wrote nor read.
In his life he

I wonder now
where you are....
I haven't forgotten you
after all these years,
long as the graveyard
wall is long. I always
ask the grass of the field
about you, and the dirt paths.

Are you alive,
with your poise,
your cane, and memories?
Did you marry?
Do you have a tent of your own,
and children?
Did you make it to Mecca?
Or did they kill you
at the foot of the Hill of Tin?

Or maybe you never grew up,
Qasim, and managed to hide,
behind your mere ten years,
and you're still the same old Qasim,
the boy who runs around
and laughs
and jumps over fences,
who likes green almonds
and searches for birds' nests.

But even if they did it,
if, shamelessly,
they killed you,
I'm certain
you fooled your killers,
just as you managed
to fool the years.
For they never discovered
your body at the edge of the road,
and didn't find it
where the rivers spill,
or on the shelves
at the morgue,
and not on the way to Mecca,
and not beneath the rubble.

As no one saw you
concealing your corpse,
so no one will ever set eyes on you,
and no earthly breeze
encounter a bone of your body,
a finger of your hand,
or even a single shoe
that might fit you.
Qasim, you fooled them.


I always envied you, Qasim,
your skill at hiding
in the games of hide-and-seek we played—
barefoot at dusk—forty years ago—
when we were little boys.


In an ancient, gypsy
dictionary of dreams
are explanations of my name
and numerous
interpretations of all I'll write.

What horror comes across me
when I come across myself
in such a dictionary!
But there I am:
a camel fleeing the slaughterhouses,
galloping toward the East,
pursued by processions
of knives and assessors,
women wielding
mortar and pestle for chop meat!

I do not consider myself a pessimist,
and I certainly don't
suffer from the shock
of ancient, gypsy nightmares,
and yet, in the middle of the day,
whenever I turn on the radio,
or turn it off,
I breathe in a kind of historical,
theological leprosy.

Feeling the bonds of language
coming apart in my throat and loins,
I cease attending
to my sacred obligations:
barking, and the gnashing of teeth.

I confess!
I've been neglecting
my post-operative physiotherapy
following the extraction of memory.
I've even forgotten
the simplest way of collapsing
in exhaustion on the tile floor.

Taha Muhammad Ali Biography

Taha Muhammad Ali (Arabic: طه محمد علي‎) (born 1931 in Saffuriyya, Galilee – October 2, 2011 in Nazareth) was a Palestinian poet. Taha Muhammad Ali fled to Lebanon with his family when he was seventeen after their village came under heavy bombardment during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The following year, he returned to Nazareth, where he lived till his death.[1] In the 1950s and 1960s, he sold souvenirs during the day to Christian pilgrims and studied poetry at night. His formal education ended after fourth grade. He was owner of a small souvenir shop near the Church of the Annunciation which he operated with his sons, Muhammad Ali wrote vividly of his childhood in Saffuriyya and the political upheavals he survived.)

The Best Poem Of Taha Muhammad Ali

Empty Words

Ah, little notebook,
yellow as a spike of wheat
and still as a face,
I've protected you
from dampness and rodents
and entrusted you with
my sadness and fear,
and my dreams—
though in exchange I've gotten from you
only disobedience and betrayal…
For otherwise where are the words
that would have me saying:
If only I were a rock on a hill…
unable to see or hear,
be sad or suffer!
And where is the passage
whose tenor is this:
I wish I could be
a rock on a hill
which the young men
from Hebron explode
and offer as a gift to Jerusalem's children,
ammunition for their palms and slings!

And where is the passage
in which I wanted
to be a rock on a hill
gazing. out from on high
hundreds of years from now
over hordes ,.
of masked liberators!

And where is what belongs
to my dream of being
a rock on a hill
along the Carmel—
where I call on the source of my sadness,
gazing out over the waves
and thinking of her
to whom I bade
farewell at the harbor pier
in Haifa forty years ago
and still…
I await her return
one evening
with the doves of the sea.

Is it fair, little notebook,
yellow as a spike of wheat
and still as a face,
that you conceal
what you cancel and erase,
simply because it consists of empty words—
which frighten no enemy
and offer no hope to a friend?

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