We came to crack some songs / Hussein Barghouti

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.




Do not guide me to the moonlit path

daughter of my uncle

The guided must walk the path of the guide

Each must forge his own path.

Do not guide me to the moonlit path

while the flute is on the lips of the mermaid

This is too little–

Guide me to the truth

and leave me silent,

like the mountains of the Galilee.




The waterfalls were forty seven,

all falling in one pool.

The last was pure and foamy

and I followed it.

The waterfalls were forty seven,

all falling in one pool.

The last was like my heart

but I lost it.




We came to crack some songs

Just as we crack almonds

and search there for doves.

We found little stone soldiers

inhabiting words.



Your white fingers pass through my dream

like ten mirrors

where I see my face like a fire without smoke

O my desire for tenderness

Don’t wound my heart!

It happens in my dream that I long for you

and alight in your eyes

like a flock of doves

on a city sidewalk in winter

and I peck at the vibration of light in the puddles and ask:

“O street full of lights! What is the color of the sky?

And why are they dancing? “

“Where can I pass when breast is upon breast?” (Mahmoud Darwish)

Sometimes I dance there, a stranger

among strangers on a street

with snow from the moon

where neon lamps are breasts of glass

washing my face in faded-white light

near ice that had frozen over

ivory fountains.

Do not ask me:

“Why do you like to travel

in the waves of my eyes?”

Fish swim deep

when they sense the coming of a quake

and the trembling of things.

My love of trembling: my search is for my soul

Regardless of the end

Whether a kiss or the guillotine.

So come to me

that I may carry your wild body in my palm

like a compass

and watch you spread

like light upon the ships of words.


From Jadaliyya

[Translated by Amal Eqeiq. With special thanks to Ibrahim Muhawi for editorial assistance.]