Two Poems by Ali Rashid Translated from Arabic

These poems by the Iraqi visual artist and poet Ali Rashid have been translated from Arabic by Dr. Saleh Razzouk and Scott Minar.


—to Wasfi, my brother who vanished 30 years ago during the war

In the morning we share cigarettes, and coffee.
I drink it mixed with bitterness, you reach for it with a frail hand.
You are with me wearing your wet shirt,
And your saddened draped
You cling to your agonized girlfriend
In absence,
Carrying your suitcase with
Bare fingers.
You are still soft
Like someone whose life has not
Materialized yet.
Now you look for horses to carry you up to skies,
But you are slowing down this exile meant to end a corruption that swallowed our waiting.
I know your return is impossible.
Feeling the panicked pains inside me again
Whenever dreams invade me.
I know also this war depends on remorse
Because it peeled off your soft years greedily.

The Southerners

The southerners are the vintage of the country, and its navel.
Its herbs that awaken miracles, its fruits that have been longed for by the skies.
Songs chase them, elegies and wars, but bullets stitch their corpses when
Sung to.
The southerners in my country are the image of god, and his liquid absence.


Photo by Ansel Edwards via Creative Commons

About the author

Ali Rashid is a visual artist and poet from Iraq who now lives in the Netherlands and writes his poetry in Arabic. Educated in Iraq, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Spain, Rashid has exhibited his work at numerous exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Among his many publications are a collection of poetry, Maps Dyed with Fear (Damascus 2003) and a play, Picture of the Last Dinner, (Damascus 2005). He has founded and edits a site in four languages that can be viewed at

About the author

Saleh Razzouk is an active fiction writer and translator living in Aleppo, Syria. He was educated at Aleppo University, Gliwice Polytechnic of Poland, and several universities across the UK. He is the translator of a study on the Arabic novel by Win-Chin Ouyang. His fiction publications include a number of books—Appending to Previous Matters (2008 Damascus), Dialogues of American Short Stories (2006 American Cultural Centre and Atlas bookshop in Damascus), Mad about Zenobia (1985 Damascus), Notebooks of Little Adam (1980 Damascus)—plus numerous stories in periodicals, such as The Laurel Review (United States), Alsafeer (Lebanon), Almasseerah (Lebanon), Altaleah AlAdabiah (Iraq), Althawra (Ministry of Information, Syria). Among his numerous translation publications is My Dear Friend Kafka (Selected Poems by Philip Terman, Nainawa Private House, Damascus, 2016). Currently, he is an associate professor in Fiber Sciences at The University of Aleppo.

About the author

Scott Minar is Consulting Translations Editor for Crazyhorse magazine (College of Charleston—South Carolina, USA) and Associate Editor at Marick Press in Washington, DC. His latest collection of poems is Cymbalism (Mammoth Books 2016). HIs poems and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry International, Ninth Letter, Crazyhorse, The Newfoundland Herald, The Laurel Review, and elsewhere in the US, Canada, the Middle East, England, and Australia. Cymbalism has been translated into Arabic and released broadly in the Middle East. He is Professor of English at Ohio University Lancaster Campus.

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