I want for myself:

twenty hands,

A sheet of paper large as a tropical forest,

A pen big as a palm-tree,

A well of black ink,

to write my last poem

Pouring in it my anxiety,

the paleness of children who exchange their school bags for beggars’ tools, their toys for shoe-shine boxes

My last poem long as the night of Iraq

Where I place the agonies of my homeland

itched on a guillotine’s edge,

And the wailing of widows and bereaved mothers.

And read it from a pulpit atop a mountain

Or from the electric chair waiting for my head’s arrival

-Before I begin death’s slumber without nightmares-

bandages cannot smother my fires

rivers and rains can neither quench my thirst

Nor drench my arid life

Hand me the instruments of writing

I don’t practice my freedom except on papers

Let me die on my papers

Let a poem be my tomb

I will have no tomb in my homeland

Give me the tools of writing to dig up my grave

If not I shall begin my last sleep

But do not close my eyes

I want them to stay wide open like the door of our huts

Like the hands of beggars

Let them stay open

To see what is darker: my grave or Iraq?

For twenty years I searched in my home for my homeland

Oh, If only I could gather the fragments of my corpse

my frequent moves between internment camps

and underground chambers of torture

Scattered my memory throughout Iraq

For twenty years lovers in my homeland exchanged their letters in their dreams

And met each other only in funeral processions.

Reprinted with the author's permission.

© Translated from Arabic by Professor Salih J Altoma - USA