In Memory of Tawfik Ziyad (1929-1994)

Here We Will Stay

In Lidda, in Ramla, in the Galilee,
we shall remain
like a wall upon your chest,
and in your throat
like a shard of glass,
a cactus thorn, and in your eyes
a sandstorm.

We shall remain
a wall upon your chest,
clean dishes in your restaurants,
serve drinks in your bars,
sweep the floors of your kitchens
to snatch a bite for our children
from your blue fangs.

Here we shall stay,
sing our songs,
take to the angry streets,
fill prisons with dignity.

In Lidda, in Ramla, in the Galilee,
we shall remain,
guard the shade of the fig
and olive trees,
ferment rebellion in our children
as yeast in the dough.

Translated from the Arabic by Sharif Elmusa and Charles Doria

They Know

But they know that my country
has known a thousand conquerors.


The cannons are roaring
are ripping the shores of loves
Youth -
before the solid columns of the world have yet born it,
it has been orphaned.
Translated from the Hebrew by W.M. Barzelay

Wedding Night

Love of my heart,
did you want a garland of flowers
for your wedding night?
my love night,
Did you want blossom-scented water
to sprinkle on my tangled hair?
Didn't you know
that I've none
don't you know that my gardens have withered
and all the rose saplings have died?
Love of my heart,
did you ask me for
a jar of wine
for our first night,
the joy of my life?
Did you ask me for
a twig of vine
to wind around the loveliest loins?

From the poet's book Fighting Words