GOLAN HAJI is a Syrian-Kurdish poet, essayist and translator. He lives in France.

Shooting Sportsmen

Passengers in minibuses paid for their death in the morning with ten liras.
The cupboard buried the sleepers,
Windowpanes tore off the curtains and severed necks like guillotines.
A speechless pond of blood on the asphalt
Where a clamour of noise hovers.
Then they came, cancelled their appointments,
Picked their teeth to throw the remains of our hearts to ants
And shouted: ‘No one is accused. All are sentenced’.
They closed the pharmacies and bridges.
They blocked the entries of cities and the openings to the squares,
And lifted a wrong address on the end of a spear:
Either the chasm or the wall.
They left us insomnia and a list of names,
Dust which the hungry licked off their shoes,
Armour of trash bins,
Tigers drawn on shrouds in the night of vineyards,
Jugs of turbid water, a shoe on the road,
Cold and candles, barrels of nails, the spit of merchants,
Bullets in the refrigerator door, the screen and the cistern’s belly,
A barrack in a museum, the contusions of painters,
The monk’s cloak, a ripped off nail, bulldozed cactus farms,
A bullet in the eye, the heart, and the warmth of testicles;
And they took the amateur actors, the physician, the passersby,
Musicians, bread-seekers, lottery vendors and goalkeepers.
They smashed the sky and coloured the tanks with its blood
To raise the piano, the coffin of music.
They murdered the madman of the quarter, the sculptor, the milk vendor and the parsley seller.
They killed the window and the sister who looked from it,
Neither the neighbours’ cow survived
Nor the streetlamp.
They spat in the spring and ripped off the lens –
The tearful sanguine eye of life,
The eye of hope.
With knives they tore off the used couch,
The suitcase and the rope-bound blanket.
They crucified the carpenter, strangled the goldfinch and slaughtered the singer.
They burnt the bakeries, the barley spikes, the books and bicycles.
Then they lay down on playground grass and snoozed off.
These are not images.
These are the guardians of pictures.


Golan Haji

(Translated from the Arabic by James Byrne and the author)