The Last Poem

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.

[translated by Salih J. Altoma, Professor Emeritus of Arabic
and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, US]