6 Poems by Najwan Darwish

By and | 4 May 2016

We Never Stop

I’ve got no country to return to
and no country to be banished from:
a tree whose roots
are a running river:
if it stops it dies
and if it doesn’t stop
it dies

I spent the best of my days
on the cheeks and arms of death
and the land I lost each day
I gained each day anew
The people had but a single land
while mine multiplied in defeat
renewed itself in loss
Its roots, like mine, are water:
if it stops it will wither
if it stops it will die
We’re both running
with a river of sunbeams
a river of gold dust
that rises from ancient wounds
and we never stop
We keep on running
never thinking to pause
so our two paths can meet

I’ve got no country to be banished from
and no country to return to:
would be the death of me

If You Only Knew

I can’t buy my friends from death
Death buys
but does not sell

Life told me:
Don’t buy anything from death
death only ever sells itself
They’re yours now, forever
they’re with you now, forever
If you only knew, your friends
are life itself

The Ones Hanging

The ones hanging
are tired
Bring us down
so we can have some rest

We haul histories
bereft of land and sky

sharpen your knife
and give your sacrifice its rest


You had no mother or father
and you never saw your brothers
from the cold talons of dawn
you loved no one
and no one ever left you
and death never ate from your hands…
You cannot know our pain


I’m not King David
to sit at contrition’s gate
and sing you psalms of lamentation
after the sin


Bring me down—
I want some rest

Take this Waltz

My night moves
between the tunes of Sabah Fakhri
and the rhythms of Abdel Wahab
There’s someone firing from the window
and someone urging death by water
or death by flames
Jerusalem itself goes under
but the waltz doesn’t stop
not even when the burning pillars of history
crumble all around me
not even when I see Zionists
pretending to be thieves
pretending to be Zionists
(so small
they’re almost invisible)

Take it:
take this waltz

What I Can’t Imagine

When the Earth, after a pileup of planets,
is swallowed by a black hole
and neither man nor bird remains
and all the ghazelles and trees are gone
and all the countries, and their invaders, too…
When the sun is nothing
but the cinders of a once-great blaze
and even history is over,
there will be no one left to tell the tale
or be shocked by the frightful finale
of our planet and our kind

I can imagine that ending
I can even surrender to it
but what I can’t imagine
is that it will also be
the end of poetry

Anywhere You Put Your Hand

No one’s found the Lord’s cross
As for the cross of the people
you’ll find a piece of it
anywhere you put your hand
(and you can call it a country)

And from one hand
to another
and from one eternity
to another
I gathered up my cross

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