Hussein Al-Barghouti was a Palestinian poet, who graduated from the University of Washington in 1992 with a PhD in Comparative literature. After his return to Palestine in the same year and until his premature death, Al-Barghouti was an influential poet, professor, critic, playwright, scholar and a dedicated patron of Palestinian culture. The literary legacy that Al-Barghouti left behind includes more than sixteen books of poetry, essays, criticism, folklore, memoires, prose and novel, most notably the posthumous memoires The Blue Light (2004) and I Will Be Among the Almond Tree (2004). The following poem captures some of the themes and sensibilities that characterize these memoirs, particularly the poetics of memory and place and the deep attachment to nature in the Palestinian landscape that fueled Al-Barghouti’s keen interest in existentialism.]
State of Mind
I live and my heart goes out to no one.
I feel no sadness
and harm no roses.
Like black grease on a wheel
in the belly of a machine,
all inside me mechanical.
Birds made of rubber in a cage of colored sand
and my face a fountain in winter– flowing
New coldness in the air. I lean
where the “powers” throw me: towards memories
from old cities, or a shop full of words that look like a lit-up bar
where jazz is playing and the customers sleep at the tables.
I pass by, in me the bitterness of a shadow
and my eyes are boredom and metal.