Writing is pain.
And the blood that drips down the screen pollutes the atmosphere staining the couch with what looks like dried coffee, which we touch with trembling fingers so we don't get infected.
We manage with broken backs as if going to hell seeing dark red - no, brown as well - which deposits a residue like rust in the soul.
We stroke their old heads then turn aside to lick away the tears.
Those who crawl from street to screen leave green traces on the asphalt that spring into bushes of basil; they toss us a flower and die in haste to spare our shame.
Now you've entered the sacred valley, take off your shoes and walk on broken glass.
The comrades in reading have fallen asleep.
You wander alone through the book stacks
with no sign of an exit.
From the third shelf on the right comes a groan -
a whole chapter expelled from a novel.
Laughter the tragic title
for a book of philiosophy.
Politics flows like phlegm from one shelf to another.
There is no time for epic
for The Book of Delight and Intimacy
as Machado eases open the book covers
gently, so as not to disturb the ornaments.
We are the proofs of books
full of paragraphs in need of revision.
I sit on the balcony. Aleppo spread before me black and deserted. The clatter of crockery in the dark means life goes on. No sound save sporadic gunfire from somewhere, then a single shell preceded by a peculiar whistle. Someone is leaving this planet with a dry throat. Aleppo before me black and still. These huge shadows might be trees or childhood goblins or black vapours exhaled by women waiting for children who are already numbers in a news report.
Aleppo. No oud plucked. No 'Swaying Silhouette'. No drinks in The Nightingale. No drinkers. No song.
One by one
the beasts of darkness.
I am Marina Constantine
widow of the priest George Shihwaro
companion of Marcel as we walk, late at night, to our home;
I am she, endowed with secrets of the holy church,
with cherries at the bottom of a glass of liqueur,
busy with laughter at the age of fifty,
hair braids forgotten in an old chest of drawers.
I am Marina
returning from the Carlton
where life clings to music
and thickens like frankincense
I scatter salt
even though I know that meat will not spoil
I dip a finger in wine to rejoice my heart.
I am Marina
who, at the wrong turn, smelled
the odour of fear exuding from sweating fists
piercing the air like lead
before the Citadel vanished in a magician's hat
I am Marina
who did not know she had died
until, alongside the thousands bearing roses wearing white,
the words of the priest in the church of Prophet Ilyas:
O dearly beloved,
in God's hands and with humble hearts
let us pray:
May the soul of our daughter
who ascends with the crown to our Lord in Heaven
rest in peace.
Translated from Arabic by Samuel Wilder
Fouad Mohammad Fouad
Is a poet from Syria who writes in Arabic.
He is a doctor, public health researcher, and poet. He was born in Aleppo in 1961.
In 1980, Fouad was one of a group of younger Syrian writers to participate in the formation of the Aleppo University Conference, a group that made a novel contribution to modern poetry in Syria and the Arab region.
He has published a number of collections of poetry: Taghut al-Kalaam (The Idol of Speech, 1990), Matruk Janiban (Left Aside, 1998), Qal Baydaba (Baydaba Said, 2004) and Ajza' al-Hayawan (The Parts of the Animal, 2010). He participated in a workshop on translation at the International Centre for For Poetry in Marseille, which resulted in the publication in 2002 of a collection entitled Import / Export, Damascus / Marseille. The collection included the work of three Syrian poets and three French poets.
He has published both poems and critical articles in Arabic journals and magazines. Among the conferences in which he has participated are the 'Voices of the Mediterranean' conference on poetry held in France in 2005, the First Cultural Festival for Young Writers held in Algiers in 2009, and the first Conference on the Prose Poem in Cairo in 2010.
In 2007 he participated, along with a group of Egyptian poets, in publishing Muqaddima (Introduction), a journal dedicated to prose poetry.
He's travelled a great deal: desire, curiosity, and his profession have taken him to more than forty countries. This has allowed him to live - in the words of the philosopher, poet, and doctor Avicenna - 'a life that is broad rather than long'. He has written a number of essays on these journeys to be included in a book that will be published in the future.
The circumstances of the war in Syria have forced him to leave Aleppo for Lebanon, where he currently works as visiting professor in the College of Health Sciences at the American University in Beirut.