Blackness

We who were killed
in all wars.

In the Basus war
our corpses dangled from the Turks’ gallows

In Troy’s war
We were behind the walls
Blood dried in our veins
Those besieging us never went away

We were outside the walls
Our skins were lacerated
The besieged never surrendered

We were chasing Abu Jahl
We got his head
and were killed by his enemies

Wars wore us out
So we froze in museums
In times of peace

We who were killed
In the June war
October war
The Kurdish war
The Chechen war
Between Kosovo and the Serbs
Between Bosnia and the bridge

We who were killed
and our mothers were not allowed to cry for us
So they ululated
They were not allowed to mourn
So they wore colorful wild flowers

They herded us to battle
Some of us escaped to safe countries
And died suffocating in trucks
Were crushed under trains

They died alone under the snow
in the countries of the North
We who fought our enemies
We are our enemies too
We learned to die smiling
And live frowning
So they built the unknown soldier monument for us

Some of us were with al-Waleed
and were killed by him
Others chatted with al-Rashid
in his boisterous nights
He executed them the minute he was sober

Some of us are the guards of the revolution
Who were killed so the revolution may live
We glimpsed the cowards in the heaven of their masters
We died silent
Were buried next to our scared poets
With an honor called: silence

We who were killed
And our mothers were not allowed to cry for us
So they ululated
They were not allowed to mourn
So they wore colorful wild flowers
We who . . .
When someone dies
On his bed
Under his physician’s scalpel
His eyes never having seen the battlefield
They drag us from the Unknown Soldier monument
They extract tears from our mothers’ dried eyes
They throw black on them
They rouse us from our graves
And force us to walk in the martyr’s procession

Damascus 2000

© Lukman Derky. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Ali Al-Baghdadi. All rights reserved.