Two poems by Muhammad Al Maghout

by qisasukhra

Two poems by Syrian poet Muhammad Al Maghout (محمد الماغوط), the first from his collection غرفة بملايين الجدران [A room with millions of walls] and the second from الفرح ليس مهنتي [Joy is not my profession].



Horror and sex


When I am alone

and lying on the breasts he loves

he comes to me

rank as a butcher

solitary as a bird tortured to death

he bites me on my mouth my scalp my ear

and lifts me high between his hands

so I might see his tears start from their springs

might see the millions of departing trains

that pant between his thick brows.

When I am alone

and my lust is a palm leaf swaying

he comes to me

in his tight shoes

in his greatcoat wavy like the sea

he runs his filthy hand across my breasts

then goes and does not return.




When he is hungry

his clothes begrimed with ink and writing

and can find no house or street to shelter him

he comes to me

slow beneath the bare trees

his lust a chain swung

in his fingers.




He stands wretched at the door

and the tears flutter in his eyes like birds.

He stands alone before the world

to beat his path, a sailor, to my bed.

In the dark

deep stagnant dark

where the wind roars

and the wet trees howl like women raped

he encircles me with his arms

and sinks into my flesh like louse eggs.

He talks to me of terror and the cypress’s green leaves

of skin flayed in the holding cells

lips dropping off in the bathrooms

of the ancient whinny

and of the rainclouds raised like sails upon

the points of bayonets.




If only the memories would go away.

Many layers from my lips

lost in the brothels in the spoons

many things I’ve lost that mean nothing

“tissues” “buttons” “fields”

lighters shaped as stars.




Life is dull like rain without water

like war without the screams and slain

so I laugh all the time

and clasp him in my arms

tiny tiny I could almost

drink him like wine

that stranger who climbs up to my breast

like I were ship or train.




When the rain pours in the streets

and the alleys fill with misery and mud

he rises off me

and holds his shoulders rounded like a rowboat

and goes.


*** *** ***


The orphan



the dream

the dream

my sturdy golden chariot

broke up and its wheels

scattered like the gypsies


I dreamt one night of spring

and when I woke the flowers

were covering my pillow.

I dreamt once of the sea

and in the morning was

my bed filled up with shells and fins.

But when I dreamed of freedom

the daggers

necklaced me like lamplight’s halo.

Henceforth you shall not find me

in the ports or on the trains.

You shall find me there

in the public libraries

asleep on maps of Europe

as the orphan on the sidewalk

my mouth brushing rivers and rivers

and my tears running

from continent to continent.