Poems by Sinan Antoon

Wars I

A Prism: Wet with Wars

To an Iraqi infant

 



A Prism: Wet with Wars

this is the chapter of
devastation
this is our oasis
an angle where wars intersect
tyrants accumulate around our eyes
and in the shackle’s verandah
there is enough space for
applause
let us applaud

another evening climbs
the city’s candles
technological hoofs crush the night
a people is being slaughtered across short waves:
but local radio vomits raw statements
and urges us to
applaud

with a skeleton of a burning umbrella
we receive this rain
a god sleeps on our flag
but the horizon is prophetless
maybe they will come if we
applaud
let us applaud

we will baptize our infants with smoke
plough their tongues
with flagrant war songs
teach them the bray of slogans
and leave them beside burning nipples
in an imminent wreckage
and applaud

before we weave an autumn for tyrants
we must cross this galaxy of barbed wires
and keep on repeating
HAPPY NEW YEAR

[Baghdad, March 1991]
from IRAQI POETRY TODAY (Zephyr Press, 2003) Translated from the Arabic by the poet