Translated by Karen Alkalay-Gut
GET OUT OF BEIRUT*
A BABY CAN'T BE KILLED TWICE*
An Unsatisfactory Answer to The Question*
THE TALE OF THE ARAB WHO DIED BY FIRE*
And that night I was a mechanical doll
and I turned right and left, to all sides
and I fell on my face and broke to bits,
and they tried to put me together with skillful hands
And then I went back to being a correct doll
and all my manners were studied and compliant.
But by then I was a different kind of doll
like a wounded twig hanging by a tendril.
And then I went to dance at a ball,
but they left me in the company of cats and dogs
even though all my steps were measured and patterned.
And I had golden hair and I had blue eyes
and I had a dress the color of the flowers in the garden
and I had a straw hat decorated with a cherry.
GET OUT OF BEIRUT
Take the knapsacks
and the utensils and washtubs
and the books of the Koran
and the army fatigues
and the tall tales and the torn soul
and whatever's left, bread or meat,
and kids running around like chickens in the village.
How many children do you have?
How many children did you have?
It's hard to keep tabs on kids in a situation like this.
Not like in the old country
in the shade of the mosque and the fig tree,
when the children the children would be shooed outside by day
and put to bed at night.
Put whatever isn't fragile into sacks,
clothes and blankets and bedding and diapers
and something for a souvenir
like a shiny artillery shell perhaps,
or some kind of useful tool,
and the babies with rheumy eyes
and the R.P.G. kids.
We want to see you in the water, sailing aimlessly
with no harbor and no shore.
You won't be accepted anywhere
You are banished human beings.
You are people who don't count
You are people who aren't needed
You are a pinch of lice
stinging and itching
A BABY CAN'T BE KILLED TWICE
On the sewage puddles of Sabra and Shattila
there you transferred masses of human beings
worthy of respect
from the world of the living to the world of the dead.
Night after night.
First they shot
then they hung
and finally slaughtered with knives.
Terrified women rushed up
from over the dust hills:
"There they slaughter us
A narrow tail of the new moon hung
above the camps.
Our soldiers illuminated the place with flares
"Back to the camps, March!" the soldier commanded
the screaming women of Sabra and shatilla.
He had orders to follow,
And the children were already laid in the puddles of waste,
their mouths open,
Noone will harm them.
A baby can't be killed twice.
And the tail of the moon filled out
until it turned into a loaf of whole gold.
Our dear sweet soldiers,
asked nothing for themselves -
how strong was their hunger
to return home in peace.
An Unsatisfactory Answer to The Question
What do you think of the murder of the Prime Minister?
Yes, what do you think of the murder
of the Prime Minister?
And what do you feel?
Are you in shock
A question was asked.
And do you stutter
or are you unsure of what will happen,
or do you speak with such bewilderment
because of the future or the present—
A question was asked.
And perhaps you feel stupid
or without a point of view?
And I reply:
All that you say is right
and you are a dear person.
And I want to add one more thing:
The Prime minister died a happy man.
Peace to the dust of the Prime Minister
Husband and father and something more:
the son of Red Rosa.
THE TALE OF THE ARAB WHO DIED BY FIRE
When the fire grabbed his body, it didn't happen by degrees.
There was no burst of heat before,
or giant wave of smothering smoke
and the feeling of a spare room one wants to escape to.
The fire held him at once
- there are no metaphors for this -
it peeled off his clothes
cleaved to his flesh.
The skin nerves were the first to be touched.
The hair was consumed.
God! They are burning! he shouted.
And that is all he could do in self-defense.
The flesh was already burning between the shack's boards
that fed the fire in the first stage.
There was already no consciousness in him.
The fire burning his flesh
numbed his sense of future
and the memories of his family.
and he had no more ties to his childhood
and he didn't ask for revenge, salvation,
or to see the dawn of the next day.
He just wanted to stop burning.
But his body supported the conflagration
and he was as if bound and fettered,
and of that too he did not think.
And he continued to burn by the power of his body
made of hair and wax and tendons.
And he burned a long time.
And from his throat inhuman voices issued
for many of his human functions had already ceased,
except for the pain the nerves transmit
in electric impulses
to the pain center in the brain.
and that didn't last longer than a day.
And it was good that his soul was freed that day
because he deserved to rest.