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QABBANI, Nizar


When a man is in love


When a man is in love

how can he use old words?

Should a woman

desiring her lover

lie down with

grammarians and linguists?


I said nothing

to the woman I loved

but gathered

love’s adjectives into a suitcase

and fled from all languages.


When I love

When I love

I feel that I am the king of time

I possess the earth and everything on it

and ride into the sun upon my horse.


When I love

I become liquid light

invisible to the eye

and the poems in my notebooks

become fields of mimosa and poppy.


When I love

the water gushes from my fingers

grass grows on my tongue

when I love

I become time outside all time.


When I love a woman

all the trees

run barefoot toward me…


My Angry Cat


You're repeating yourself

for the twentieth time.

Is there another man in my life?

Yes. Yes. What did you think?

Even graveyards have visitors.

There are, my dear sir,

a lot of men out there,

and no garden is ever devoid of birds.

You're just an experience I had,

and here I am,

tired and bored from this experience,

out from under your spell.

I'm cured of all

my weakness and gullibility.

Niceties do, after all, always end.

You love me!

There you go again,

dredging up all that ancient history.

And since when did you ever show

the slightest interest in me

outside the contour of my hips?

Where does this sudden gush of love come from?

I was never anything more

than a forsaken chair

among your expensive furniture,

a garden you chose to raze

without shame or repentance.

Why are you staring at my breasts

as if you owned them?

And why do you weep as if you

stood before a lost kingdom?

Your glorious kingdom, dear sir,

has just crumbled.

There. I've settled my score

in an instant.

You tell me now

who's losing the game.

I opened myself to you

like the Garden of Eden,

gave you all the sweet fruit

and green grass you desired.

Today I offer you

neither heaven nor hell.

This is what you get

for acting the ungrateful.

You faithless. If you'd only treated me

like a human being - just once -

this other man wouldn't exist.