Translating Amal: Prologue

Dedicated to the martyrs of January 25th, 2011, who dared to dream of a better life for others, and lost their lives in vain; and to my dear friend Janice Wheeler, for seeing what no one else could see — Wael This is my tribute to honor Amal Donqol (1940–1983), who, in my opinion, is the greatestContinue reading “Translating Amal: Prologue”


I met them eating supper Look at me, for a moment, did theyAnd no one returned my greeting The hands, went back, handling the spoons     in their dish of soup Stare in the bowl, did I Damn you,    Beware, My blood!    I yelled Care not did theyThe hands handling the spoons And licking the blood were the lips WaelContinue reading “Supper”


To that waiting on the river bank, while I travel in towns never have I seen, with doves on her shoulders and tenderness flowing from her palms— Wael Why chases me, wherever I go,    the sound of the violin? Travel do I in old trains    for I could talk to elderly strangersI raise my voice,     for it toContinue reading “Melodic”


Feeling am I,    for thy eyne,    something sobbing inside me  Feeling am I,    between your hands,    the naked sins of the past,    repent And apples on a vine,    in two green eyne Will I forget a journey of sins,    in thy heavenly eyne? And until when,     shall my sins torment me, away from your dates,     shall my desires burn me, close toContinue reading “Innocence”

Waiting For The Sword

To those who refuse to beg for the mercy of the sword, and still wait, despite the sight of soldiers, for the scream of the newborn, full of hope — Wael Al-Hasan al-A’sam was a Qarmatian military commander A boutonnière in the lapelWhat are ye birthing now?A child or a crime?!Or are ye wailing atContinue reading “Waiting For The Sword”

The Southern

To those who covet not but the truth, and the absent faces — Wael Portrait Have I ever been a child?Or is that, joyful child, someone else? A family portraitSitting was my fatherAnd standing was IMy arms dangling A punt of a mareLeft me, with a wounded forehead, marredAnd taught a wary heart My bloodContinue reading “The Southern”


To those who flap their wings every morning, preferring the doom of the wing over a docile eye — Wael Banished to the skies are the birdsBanished …    Not to land on the ground    Not but to be flung by the tiny winds They could descend    To rest for moments    On theContinue reading “Birds”