Translated by Asia Bamia

I Shake Your Hands

I implore you,  

I shake your hands,

I kiss the ground on which you tread,

And I say: I will redeem you.

I offer you my eyesight, 

The warmth of my heart I give you.

The tragedy I endure is my share of your plight.

I appeal to you, 

I shake your hands.

I did not disparage my homeland,

Neither did I yield.

I confronted my gaolers, alone, naked, and barefoot.

My hand was bleeding, 

Yet, I did not give up.

I maintained the grass over my forefathers’ tombs.

I implore you; I shake your hands!

Evening Chat in Prison  

I remember, I do,

The Damoon, its bitter nights and its barbed wires,

Justice hanging on the fence, and

The moon crucified 

On the steel window. 

I remember plantations of red freckles 

On the face of the pesky gaoler.

I remember, I do,

When we chatted in the dark night,

In the dusty Damoon cell.

We would sigh as we listened to a love story,

We would threaten when we heard the story of a theft,

But we cheered when a rebellious people achieved freedom.


Oh, my people,

Oh, sticks of incense, 

You are dearer to me than my own life.

We keep the promise.

We endure life in a prison cell,

The ties of injustice and the prison bars,

If we endure hunger and deprivations,

It is to undo the shackles of the crucified moon,

To give you back your usurped rights,

To recuperate the future from the darkness of greed,

Lest it be bought and sold!

Lest the boat remains without sails.

A Letter Sent Through the Mandelbaum Gate

Beloved mother!

I send you two hundred kisses,

From our house on top of the hill,

From the vegan tree, the rose tree, and the Indian jasmine,

From the joyful ground tickled by animal feed,

From the setting for the olives and the buttress,

From the fasting stove, the sticks, and the pot,

From a grapevine that fills the basket every summer

From a Damascene mulberry tree, white and ailing,

From a premonition wondering when the night would end.


Mother, you are the most beautiful in the whole wide world,

You are the eyeball I adore, oh my heart!

To me, yearning is like a rose kept alive with my love.

Mother …

How are you doing?! The heart is far away.

How is the black tent, the friends?

Tell me, by God, have you withered away as we did, wishing

    to be close to you?

We send you greetings, green like the grass. 

The longing bird offers them to the flock,

He asks the stars about you, hoping for an answer

Asking about the first step on the road!

Our news, you ask? There is plenty to say, they break my 


Abu Salah lost his eyesight from grief,

Fakhri’s mother, passed away grieving over Fakhri

The brunettes of the village have gone grey waiting. 

The spring dried up and stopped flowing.

Our land is slipping away under the cover of darkness.

All that is left mother, is boredom and rocks.

But we resist, throughout the years, like iron,

How couldn’t we not,

When the pride of the eagle is in our blood.


Your son is not alone any more, an only child since his birth.

I married the neighbour’s daughter, sometime ago.

She is my support in a life filled with hardships.

If you see her you would say, ‘she is the mint of the village’.

My apologies for failing to invite you on my wedding day,

I did not invite you because the road is blocked.


Mother, you have become a grandmother,

I have now from your flesh and mine, a rose,

A naughty three years old, like a monkey.

I called her Fahda, she is so sweet.

She asks me every morning, ‘Where is my grandmother?!’

She loves Fairuz; 

Her favourite song is The Return.

We Are Here to Stay

We are like a multitude of impossibilities

In Led, Ramleh and Galilea.

Here we will stay, a weight on your heart,

Like a wall. 

In your throats,

We are like a piece of glass, like a prickly pear.

And in your eyes,

We are a fire storm.

We are here to stay, like a wall over your chests.

We clean the dishes in bars 

We fill the glasses of the masters, 

We sweep the floors in the black kitchens,

To provide for our children,

Ripped from within your blue jaws

Here we will stay, over your chests, like a wall,

We endure hunger and thirst; we are defiant.

We recite poetry,

We fill the angry streets with demonstrations,

We fill the prisons with pride.

We make children, one revolted generation after another,

Like a multitude of impossibilities,

In Led, Ramleh and Galilea.

We are here to stay,

So, drink the sea.

We protect the shade of the fig and olive trees,

We implant ideas like yeast in the dough,

Our nerves are cold like ice

While hell’s fire burns in our hearts.

We press the rocks to quench our thirst,

We eat dirt when we are hungry, but we won’t leave!

We generously give our precious blood, generously, 


Here is our past, our present and our future.


We are like a multitude of impossibilities,

In Led, Ramleh and Galilea.

We hold fast to your origins,

Our roots are deep down in the ground.

It would be better for the oppressor to revise his accounts,

Before the thread comes undone. 

For every action, read, 

What is written in the book!

The Convergence of Roads

I came from a city hanging on a cross

I carry its greetings made of burning letters,

I carried them from my beloved homeland,

From the fugitives in the mountains and the valleys,

From those whose backs are ripped

With the whips of slavery


From our mothers wrapped in black,

From the eyes of the children,

From a jasmine tree that climbed on our fence,

Teasing the light of the day,

Smiling for the sun and blooming.

I carried it from my beloved homeland,

Hidden in my burning wound.

I freed it like a happy butterfly

In your vast horizon,

Oh Moscow, 

Where all roads meet.

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