A Refugee Talking

Sargon Boulus*

A refugee absorbed in talking
Did not feel the cigarette burn his fingers

Surprised to be here
After being there – stations, harbours,
Visitations, forged papers

Depending on a chain of details
His future was fibre-like
Laid out in small circles
An oppressive country
Afflicted by nightmares

Smugglers, emigration bandits, if you asked me
Commonplace people maybe, hungry sea-gulls
Over a wrecked ship in the middle of nowhere

If you asked me, I would say:
Endless waiting in immigration bureaus
Faces that do not return smiles whatever you do
Who said: the most precious gift

If you asked me, I would say: Human beings are everywhere.
You would say: Everywhere

He talks, talks, talks
He had arrived but did not enjoy the taste of arrival
And did not feel the cigarette burn his fingers

Translation: Kees Nijland. Poetry International Festival, Rotterdam, 2007

Sargon Boulus  was a renowned Modern Arab Poet. He was born in Iraq in 1943. He lived in many places including Lebanon, the United States and Europe. He translated English poems into Arabic including sonnets of Shakespeare and poems by Ezra Pound, W.H. Auden, P.B. Shelley, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Duncan to name a few. Boulus published six collections on poetry, including “Arrival in When City,” “When You Were Sleeping in Noah’s Ark” and “Live Next to the Acropolis.” He also published an autobiography entitled “Witnesses on the Shore” and a short-story collection. Sargon passed away in 2007