I say my prayers only when near her,
if water has mingled with water
and love's splash has spread over the bed.
I say my prayers only when near her,
when she has risen from an ecstasy,
her graces illuminated once more,
and is again the wedding night princess
and I again the prince!


A house on the path towards me;
travellers take it every day.
A house on the path towards me;
travellers head for it, seeking rest.
A house that is no friend to me.
Have you seen it,
or is it a house of delusion?


I am Basem el-Nabres. I hunt shadows when dusk falls. I hunt the rattle in every sound. I know when a man will crumble in his utter determination; when a child-bereaved woman will say everything that isn't her truth. I am Bassem el-Nabres, who saw, who lived, who raged, who burned a million cigarettes. No one was fair with me. No one cared for me or for others. I am Basem el-Nabres, and that's a mission till the end of age: every evening I sit in my solitary chair, in a solitary room, in a solitary existence. Every day, I hunt shadows in the fold of darkness. I monitor the rattle in every sound. And I never descend to rage.


Oh father … they went into the clouds, and I remained to remember them. Neither women nor fortune smile to let me forget, to take me out of this house of memories. Nothing. Their things, within a breath's reach. I almost feel them with my hand, with my fingertips. I almost fill myself with them, but am empty myself. Here they were. Here they lived. Here the last died, leaving half a breakfast egg, leaving a rumpled bed, leaving the door ajar and the air muted. I can almost touch them, one by one, those who died a century ago in this ancient house, those who died a year ago. Ah, how hard it is to live, in good faith, in the house of memories.


Those who write after two o'clock each night, those who walk among people occupied with an idea of being killed in Gaza suddenly, those for whom an hour of music is enough to make their tears fall, enough to let them know they are shadows walking on a land unsafe for them or the waste collectors.


Hey, girl, you who turns around, oblivious. Ease off with your magic, please! On the other end there's someone with a taste for beauty.



Since it's hard to tell right and wrong apart,
I choose to see you, my country,
to see you only at night.
It's good, this, for my heart!


Under the tree's shade,
in descending dusk,
from above,
like drizzle,
I sense the meaning of God,
in a rhapsody,
and I
look, enchanted,
into an insect's pupils!


I saw God in a rose,
in a bird.
I saw light,
like a waterfall on the wings of a bird,
like a waterfall on a nodding rose
I saw the rock
spuming water,
spuming white froth,
but saw no poem!


Calm is a Gaza night.
Darkness lodges, like liquid, over the houses;
darkness from an overcoming …
and … from a silence.
A calm,
oh Lord, help them!
Those who nod off after filling their belly
and those who nod off without,
help them in their night,
even when it was
quieter than a corpse.
Help them,
you know how, with a calmness that eludes
I know …
what is within …
of undying hurt.


Night grows old,
night following night,
dusk following dusk.
Talk too grows old
and nations and bodies grow old.
Whereas you, my heart,
night following night, grow your youth.
I remove my world's ills from you,
daub you in goodness and stillness,
so you remain, as you were born,
of all but love
and God's sad songs.

A Rustling

Whose rustling is this, that calls on me if I'm sick
and endures my groaning?
The flutter of her brown shadow
or a butterfly passing over my brow?


I walk,
my shadows walk behind me.
I read,
they read and pore over the letters.
I go to bed …
they keep vigil,
guard and perpetuate my dreams,
my passion for dreams,
and my fear!
And, when I die,
I'll die alone,
not one of my shadows will be
cast after me, after my passing!

A Vision

With my grandmother's axe,
I cleaved a passage between two clouds:
what did I see?
I saw a master mocking both
the clarity with which we see
and the motes in our eyes!


The hoopoe eats from the virgin's palm.
A few pecks later,
the hoopoe
and the outstretched palm
is henna-colored all over!


I say to the grasshopper: hey, brother!
and the turtledove: hey, friend!
I say, hey, you of heaven's light!
Give me more,
so I may love each pebble and each person in my path.