Poems From Syria

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Tareq Aljabr (born 1987) is a Syrian poet and translator living in Damascus. Originally from the Golan Heights, his family was displaced during the occupation by Israel. These poems were written during the last year’s conflict and recent bombings of Damascus. Tareq Aljabr passed the poems to visAvis via a friend in Denmark. He asked that they be published before he dies.

“I have lived to witness the death of others, and wrote these poems about moments that should not die along with the the people or with me. I have to do anything that makes me think I did something for them, no matter how small a thing. If anything happens to me, I will know it’s the way it should happen.”

by Tareq Aljabr


اُتركْ سلاحَكَ و ارتم …
حاولْ -قليلاً- أنْ تجيئَني زاحفاً …
أبق برأسكَ مُنخفض, و انظرْ لنحوي …
إنّي حبيبُكَ يا صديقي …
لا ترتمي في حُضنِ موتِكَ في وجودي …
إنّي رغيفُكَ في حياتِكَ
أو سلاحُكَ في حروبِكْ , فارتم …
و اتركْ سلاحَكَ و انتظرني …
إنّي ذراعُكَ ههنا ,
مازلتَ حيّاً يا صديقي .


Leave your arm and get down …
Try – a bit – to come to me crawling …
Keep your head down and look at me …
I’m your love my friend …
Don’t throw yourself into the arms of your death
while I am here …
I am your bread in your life
and your weapon in your wars,
so get down …
Leave your arm and wait for me …
I AM YOUR ARM right here,
my friend, you’re still alive.


من كان يصرخُ باسمِ أُختهِ أو أخيهْ,
و انقطعَ صوتُهْ .
ربّما لمْ يلقَ صوتاً جاوبَهْ,
أو أنّ سمْعي اللاسويّ أزاحَني
عن ثقلِ قولِهْ,
أو تَعافى حينَ شاهَدَ قاتِليهْ
في جسمِ أهلهِ .
ربّما مازلتُ أجهلُ ما عرفتُ
و ما سأعرفُ …
ربّما ماتَ الجميعُ و قاتلي …
مازالَ يُخطِئ قَتلَ جسمي,
مازالَ يجهلُ أنّني
مازلتُ فيهْ .


The one who was calling out for his sister
or his brother …
he whose voice was cut,
perhaps no other voice has answered him …
Or was it just my unsteady sense of hearing
that took me away from his harsh words?
Or was it him who held back upon seeing his killers
in the bodies of his family?
Maybe I still don’t know what I know
or what I will know.
Maybe everyone has been killed,
and my killer, still mistaking my body,
still doesn’t know
I’m still inside.


… وَ الناسُ تُقتلُ وَ الحاراتُ ترجِفُ من أزيز النارْ …
أرقبُ العصفورَ يعجزُ عن حراكِ الجسمِ /
يختارُ الحياةَ مُجسّماً
لا طيرَ فيهْ .
أختارُ زاويةً تُطلُّ على سلاحِ الموتْ ,
أُخفي عيوني, كي لا أرى قنّاصةً تُردي عيوني …
… وَ يبدأ العصفورُ يعزِفُ لحنَهُ,
يختارُ صوتَ الطيرِ فيهْ .


Where people are getting killed,
and neighbourhoods are trembling from the humming fire …
I see the bird unable to move the body,
choosing life as a statue with no bird inside.
I choose a corner overlooking the weapon of death,
I hide my eyes
so I don’t see snipers shooting into them.
Then, the bird starts playing his tune
choosing the sound of the bird inside.