159 article(s) translated from Arabic

Exile is Born at This Moment

Oh, my love, while you are in my breath, I am a statue of snow at the entrance to Damascus, with eyes closed, nose breathing anger, ears tuned to the noise of death, mouth speechless, trying to say: when…...

The Curse of the South

“Two kinds of people live in this city: The ones who were born here, and those who came here, fleeing something. Me, I wasn’t born here!” When his fever peaked and he started to sweat,…...

Chicago: Present-Day Paradise, Future Magic

The great Iraqi writer Mahmoud Saeed was imprisoned in Iraq six times between 1959 and 1980. He left Iraq in 1985 and has lived in Chicago since 1999. He wrote this essay on the eve of his departure to…...

Bag of the Nation

I took the big bag that I had inherited from my grandfather down from the attic. It was brightly colored like a storm of rainbows. I hoisted it onto my back and went out into the street. I closed my eyes…...

The Bamboo Stalk

One evening I called a taxi to go to the gas depot near the central market to change an empty cylinder. One of the streets in Jabriya was severely congested. Jabriya is always crowded, but congestion like…...

Bushrawi . . . Ranjini

Ranjini I’m frightened. Why are the people I’m to work for late? When will they come for me? My heart is pounding. Will they send me back to my country? I see that it’s dark outside the…...

War

Men plan wars And women survive in the rubble One day there will be no men And a woman will pursue another In search of the scent of the last man Who touched his lips to her neck. © Manal Al-Sheikh.…...

My Body

A body that is the one I borrowed the first night with you . . .  I watch it every night running toward a waveless sea where the sand of age rests in its veins . . . The wearied ships land in its…...

On Death

When we die the words we haven’t said yet turn to bubbles to inflate the body and smuggle it from the grave while the cemetery keeper sleeps. But we run up against the stone slab over our bodies,…...

Downtown

My share of sleep: four hours eleven minutes.
 I roll my pierced heart across the bedcover: it slams into the door, leaving
 a line of mud behind. I believe a tree
 will come one night…...

A Stray Bullet

After crossing the living room, the library, the corridor and the photo that brings us together on a trip to Nahr al-Kalb, and after passing by the washer and my mother (exhausted in spite of the washer),…...

Isolation

It's hot, hot enough to suffocate. There is nothing except this table upon which I sleep, a rectangular hall with four doors and twelve windows. On each side a door. On the shorter sides, two windows,…...

A Condition

You’re certain that nothing will dissuade you now. Nothing. Not your neighbors’ invitation to the luncheon to celebrate their boys’ circumcision. Not the kind old lady’s pleading…...

Conjunctions

Doves! Doves flying on a horizon of signs and metaphors. I can never hear the word “doves,” nor think of it unexpectedly, without picturing them flying as if they were the horizon's capricious…...

The Sad Portuguese

Luis Carvalho was the “sad Portuguese”—that is what they called him, or at least what we called him, we the children in the neighborhoods of Sif, Mahallat al-Pasha, Nadhran, and Bllush,…...

Bled Dry

The Casablanca night doesn’t really begin until after midnight, but after midnight, anything goes. Nezha was wondering where Hammadi would want to finish off the evening. They left La Falaise at…...

from “The Amman Bride”

We really needed to talk. This was a difficult situation that we needed to find a way out of. He absolutely refused to share me with anyone else, and he wasn't prepared to lead a life with me where…...

The Green Zone Rabbit

Before the egg appeared, I would read a book about law or religion every night before going to sleep. Like my rabbit, I would be most active in the hours around dawn and sunset. Salsal, on the other hand,…...

Salman and the Mule Suicides

My acquaintance with Salman extends back to our military service, to the winter of 1984, I think. In that year I began to serve in a series of units that fought in the mountains, cities, and canebrakes…...

Be Quiet, Soldiers

At the Ajeerda divide, the strip of land that separates the marshes on the eastern side, east of the city of Amarah, we were gathered into deeply dug-out positions. Thousands of soldiers, dressed in khaki…...

A Portal in Space

The Friday bombardment started a little later than usual, at 8:30 a.m. The sound was loud and clear. Umm Anwar sighed, and her pain showed clearly in her expression. Furrowing her brow and ready to explode,…...

The One-Eyed TV

Just as the thirteenth year of my life started, the Iraqi-Iran war began. Before it was even a year old, my oldest brother was killed and one of my cousins was taken as a prisoner of war. That is when…...

Merrymaking

He is not a tightrope walker, a snake charmer, or a tiger tamer. His hands are empty no charm or sleight to them, and he does not have any puppets, hoops, pungis, or whips—his mere body is his only…...

Music in a Baghdad Alley

No matter where you settle or wander That first melody is yours At every arrival and departure Its living face will meet you at the entrance that remains If you walk and the opposing wind is in your face…...

In Saadi Shirazi’s Garden (When He Was a Prisoner)

The river flows. Guides hide in the woods. I am a single day dragging an apocalypse of days. Wounded battalions smelling the burning air through the dried blood on the nose. Because the city of water is…...