From Lest We Forget: Lebanon 1975-1990

by: Mishka Mojabber Mourani


"Nature prefers a waste space to an empty one."

Northrop Frye

How we resent the terror-inflicted strictures
We find ourselves compelled to conform to,
Having emerged from comfortable complacence,
Mutinous and combative.
And yet we toe the line,
Time after shell-shocked time.
It's easier to comply,
Less empty fear,
More waste,
More or less us.


Observe the beauty of this ugly city,
With its brilliant fruit stalls
Against leprous walls,
Which have mocked fireballs,
Shielding tired, crouching people
Who dream of a different history.

Observe the dignity of this demented city,
With its profuse garbage dumps,
And rasping motors, which pump
Noise and fumes into hole-ridden streets,
Peopled by lab-mice in bread lines,
Attempting normalcy.

Observe the strength of this paraplegic city,
With its gasless stations
And waterless taps
And tenacious women with deserted laps,
Who wait, despairing yet erect,
For the good old days
That may never be.


Read it in Arabic as translated by Aida Y.Haddad