Monday, May 31, 2004

Fadhil al-Azzawi, "In My Spare Time"

Iraqi poet Fadhil al-Azzawi's poem "In My Spare Time" (trans. Khaled Mattawa):
During my long, boring hours of spare time
I sit to play with the earth's sphere.
I establish countries without police or parties
and I scrap others that no longer attract consumers.
I run roaring rivers through barren deserts
and I create continents and oceans
that I save for the future just in case.

I draw a new colored map of the nations:
I roll Germany to the Pacific Ocean teeming with whales
and I let the poor refugees
sail pirates' ships to her coasts
in the fog
dreaming of the promised garden in Bavaria.
I switch England with Afghanistan
so that its youth can smoke hashish for free
provided courtesy of Her Majesty's government.
I smuggle Kuwait from its fenced and mined borders
to Comoro, the islands
of the moon in its eclipse,
keeping the oil fields in tact, of course.
At the same time I transport Baghdad
in the midst of loud drumming
to the islands of Tahiti.
I let Saudi Arabia crouch in its eternal desert
to preserve the purity of her thoroughbred camels.
This is before I surrender America
back to the Indians
just to give history
the justice it has long lacked.

I know that changing the world is not easy
but it remains necessary nonetheless.
Here are a few more poems by al-Azzawi: "Inside a Black Hole"; "When the Sky Still Had No Name"; "A Statue in a Square"; "Feast in Candlelight"; and "Events" (trans. Fadhil al-Azzawi and Khaled Mattawa, Banipal 7, Spring 2000, republished in Masthead 7, February 2003). If you like these poems, check out Miracle Maker: The Selected Poems of Fadhil Al-Azzawi.

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