Seven poems by Egyptian Poet Amin Haddad
Seven poems by Egyptian Poet Amin Haddad
The Laundry Basket
The laundry basket is full of clothes...crumpled and sweaty
Bed-sheets, under-wears, pyjamas and shirts
Nylon, cotton and wool
A variety of cloth
The laundry basket was never embarrassed
He collected the clothes all together
As if he was embracing them
A smell of people
Smell of travel
Smell of work
Smell of kisses
Over the bed,
Stories on top of bed-sheets
Stories on under-wears
Secrets on top of each other
And at the end of the week
All our clothes come together
Washed in the basin
All our worries become;
...And on the roof
The sun dries our clean laundry
Go to sleep
If your love was a moon
Turn it off and go to sleep
In between the two of you, the busyness of days intrude
And all those errands that take away all time, which people have in hand
If your love was a moon
Bring down the curtains
Shut away the windows
And if you can air-condition the bedroom, then, do
So you won’t hear music in your dreams
If your love was a moon
Tell her, for the vanity, no need
It doesn’t suit your looks
And alone, you stand like a fool
You should really go home
Maybe you will find a bus, that still
Goes down the line, all the way to
*Sbeeco buildings in *Al Salam City
If your love was a moon
Go find her down the street
Since you are so dying to see her
The moon is not allowed inside houses
Call her to leave the sky and come to earth
And sit like lovers on a garden bench
Or in a car overlooking *Al Mukkattam hills
Or by the Nile
And eat those specialty liver sandwiches on *El Giesh road
That fills the hunger up
And go to the cinema
And sit close to her, until your elbows touch
Burn your lips and hers, with pop-corn and salted seeds
And love her as much as the hero does
Anyway, it is all a film
If your love was the moon
Tomorrow, she will be unborn
And after, born a crescent
And after, a full moon
That stays tied down
In the whirl-around wheel of the universe
Dies, and then born again to die and born again to die
And you, pale and boney, following her all the time
Living in illusions
If your love is a moon
Turn it off, and go to sleep
*Sbeeco buildings, and *Al Salam City and *Al Mukkattam hill: Names of residential areas in Cairo. Al Mukkattam Hill, is a hill, where there is one of the widest views for Cairo city.
What do you think?
What do you think is happening?
There is a wire that connects my heart to heaven
Of course, you say; “Selfish, you are.”
I always say; “I”
Who is failing the other, do you think?
A lifetime or the seconds…
Coldness or clothes...
All through my lifetime, I have been wrapped tight with my dreams
And the cold does not come
With feathers that cover me, I tipped
Death called upon me in a rainy night
Illusions and green light
And God saved me…
To live longer
Only to die again
Who do you think knocks at the door?
I mean; rings the door-bell
Open the door to our guest
You and I don’t talk anymore
What do you think scared us?
The house lights can’t beat the darkness outside us
Street lamps wet the asphalt
The summer is gone and still the world is awake;
In no need for our hallucinations
Why do you think the sofas were yawning?
You and I will answer
I will remain in love with you, if you still remember me
I will remain in love with you, better, unconditionally
My love is more cowardly than the lust that fills me
Of course, selfish
My tears won’t fall, for more than one reason
My tears, struggle to hide away my grieve
Will you still love me if I am lost?
Will you still love me if I run away?
It is me who rang the bell, open
Look at the sofa, no one is sitting there
Open the door, warm me up
In shivering coldness, I stand
From cold streets, in refuge for your embrace
In good hope your kind hands will pat my shoulder
I listen to your words; I believe you and quench my thirst
In touching your lips, my body is electrified
There is a wire;
To my heart,
The most beautiful thing in the world
-As I was telling you; The father died…and the son went to his brother and gazed from the window…he found (1)Embaba waking up from its siesta in the alluring beauty of the afternoon…The paper kites swimming like fish in the sky…and flocks of pigeons roaming around its shed..he then turned around to his brother and said; “the delight of Cairo’s allies reach out to its skies….in replying to him he said; “If those were (2)Al Ḥarām’s pigeons then your father is one of them….
-His brother went to buy (3)grilled fish for lunch, their usual Tuesday lunch with their mother….and there, they found (4)Gamalat…still, with a loud laugh, still, as ever, she is filled with stories….
-She said to them; “You know, (5) Yassine and Wahiba’s love-story, who lived happily ever after but never had any children, neither boys nor girls.
-Gamalat took the bus and went home…and till this day, the boy was never able to tell her story…he took his Mum’s hand and told her; “Pray for me...”…he was hoping to walk with her from (6) El Ghourya all the way to (7) Khan El ‘Khalili…and from the (8) Citadel all the way to (9) Al Fustat…but instead, he got in his car and left her with the nurses
-He was feeling that the tears locked in throat were like glowing circles around street light-lamps….and that the danger threatening pigeons with sleeping eyes in their sheds, was his own personal responsibility….and that time was like paper kites tangled into wires of electricity and telephones…and Wahiba is Gamalat…and that his brother was going to pilgrimage this year…for Al-Ḥarām’s pigeons….
And that he was deprived forever, from the most beautiful thing in the world
(1) Embaba: is a neighborhood in northern Egypt, located in the Giza governorate, and part of the greater Cairo metropolitan area. The origin of the name is not certain, however the word "Embaba" in Amharic means "[Egyptian] Doum Palm", so it is probable that the area was called so by Amharic speaking camel merchants and herders to describe the place where they met to do business.
(2) Al-Masjid al-?aram refers to "The Sacred Mosque", which is the largest mosque in the world. Located in the city of Mecca, it surrounds the Kaaba, the place which Muslims worldwide turn towards while offering daily prayers, conduct their pilgrimage rituals and is Islam's holiest place. The mosque is also known as the Grand Mosque. The current structure covers an area of 4,008,020 square metres (990.40 acres) including the outdoor and indoor praying spaces and can accommodate up to four million Muslim worshippers during the Hajj period, one of the largest annual gatherings of people in the world.
(3) Grilled fish: The Egyptian grilled fish is different in the way it is cooked and refers to fish, which comes out from the red or Mediterranean Sea. It is grilled is on charcoal, where the fish is covered with a special species and vegetables from the inside and glazed with Egyptian brown bread crumbs (i.e. wheat) and salt.
(4) Gamalat: An Egyptian female name.
(5) Yassine and Wahiba: Yassine, a name for an Egyptian male, and Wahiba, a name for an Egyptian female.
(6) El-Ghourya: A historic monument and commercial market area in Egypt, which was known previously as the District of Sharabshin. It was prominently filled with shops for the making and sewing of the royal clothes and then its name was changed in relevance to Sultan Ghoury who ruled at the time in 1501 and for approximately sixteen years, until Sultan Selim, the first took over the reign of Egypt. The area is vibrant and alive now with cultural events, commercial markets, sale of spices and obviously holds a lot of history influences especially Islamic in the majority of its buildings.
(7) Khan el-Khalili is a major souk (i.e. Old market) in the Islamic district of Cairo. The bazaar district is one of Cairo's main attractions for tourists and Egyptians alike. The souk dates back to 1382, when Emir Djaharks El-Khalili built a large caravanserai in Cairo under the BurjiMamlukSultanBarquq; the eponymous khan is still extant. By the time of Barquq, the first Circassian Mamluk Sultan (1382- 1399 A.D.) much reconstruction needed to be done within the walls of the city in order to repair the damage incurred as a result of the Black Death. When Barquq started his school in Bayn el-Qasrayn, markets were rebuilt, and Khan el-Khalili was established.[ It was also known Turkish bazaar during the Ottoman Empire.
(8) Citadel: The Citadel of Salah Ed-Din (Arabic: Qalaat Salah Ed-Din), The Crusader walls were breached by the armies of Muslim leader Salah ed-Din in July 1188, and it is from this victory that the castle takes its present name. As for the Arab additions to the fortress they include a mosque, which dates back to sultan Qalawun, and a palace.
(9) Al Fustat: Fustat (also Fostat, Al Fustat, Misr al-Fustat and Fustat-Misr), was the first capital of Egypt under Arab rule. It was built by the Arab general 'Amr ibn al-'As immediately after the Arab conquest of Egypt in AD 641, and featured the Mosque of Amr, the first mosque ever built in Egypt. This mosque was also the first mosque built in Africa, since the Islamic expansion onto the continent commenced with Egypt. The city reached its peak in the 12th century, with a population of approximately 200,000. It was the center of administrative power in Egypt, until it was ordered burned in 1168 by its own vizier, Shawar, to keep its wealth out of the hands of the invading Crusaders. The remains of the city were eventually absorbed by nearby Cairo, which had been built to the north of Fustat in 969 when the Fatimids conquered the region and created a new city as a royal enclosure for the Caliph. The area then fell into disrepair for hundreds of years and was used as a garbage dump. Today, Fustat is part of Old Cairo, with few buildings remaining from its days as capital, though there have been many archaeological digs which have taken advantage of the wealth of buried material in the area. Many ancient items recovered from the site are on display in Cairo's Museum of Islamic Art.
For your information;
Women don’t die easily
And don’t live easily
Take for instance, their share of hard-labour
And their share of horrid labour pains
Every-time, I mention your name.
I find my eyes wet
A Tale of the Sun and the Housewives
House-wives wake up
For the sun’s promise of a date
A date, where the sun will meet:
*Zakkeya at the kitchen table
And **she will meet *Fat’heya on the living room sofa
*Fatma beside the grey book-shelves
*Mona with the grey cat
*’Esmmat with the Persian cat
*Mary in the back-house balcony
*Sawsan in the Giza market
*Raga’a on the doorstep
*Bahiga in the bedroom
And she will meet *Raw’heya, *Insaf, *Yousr, *E’etemad, *Layla and *Karima
In gardens, windows, roof-tops and gate-ways
The sun will sit with them all.
And for each one alone,
She will listen to their stories
And eat sandwiches
With them, she will drink tea and biscuits
And brewing coffee on a burner
She will fold bed sheets with them
And pluck ***Mulu’khiya leaves
And with them, she will shell peas, trim okra, peel potatoes and hang bed-covers in the air
She will stitch worn-out socks
And she will get to know the children’s news
And with them, she will wait through the remaining days until the return of *Amina, *Abd El ‘Hakim and *Hussam
And she will reminisce with them about the good old days
When *Fouad turned-off the light yawning
And *Salah nicknamed mummy when calling her from the balcony
And Auntie *Badi’a’aa replied with calmness and pride to the officer’s interrogation
And when *‘Amer applied for *Muhammad’s primary admissions
And the days of confusion, dizziness and fever
And *Magdy, the physician
And a lone star at sunset time
With its shyness infront of the passing-by moon
And the pink cloud of love
And the red trees, which turned green
And the photosynthesis
And her journey to reach the window
With them, the sun, will remove dust off the salon chairs
She will listen to ****Abla Fadila
And with them, she will discuss the events of yesterday’s soap opera
The sun is beautiful
And she will visit them wearing its nightgown
With snowy-white arms
Assuring them; “Still, the world is good.”
She will come with its long silky-blonde hair
Looking like chains of dreams
With a laugh that fills the world
With musical tunes from the days, of a fruit tree and a garden, that seeks its meadow in vain
The sun is a coquette
The sun scorched her thighs
When a cup of boiling tea fell over them
At the call-out of sellers for; “ripe fruits and vegetables for sale.”
With tears streaming from their eyes
And with potato skin and oil
They heal the burn
House-wives, from all around the republic
Will gather around the sun
And beg her to sleep-over
…And she stays…
In beds with mosquito-nets
They stay-up till dawn with stories
And beside them, a bottle of water, reading glasses, dentures and medicines, linger awake
For that, dear children;
The sun won’t rise for tomorrow’s morning
*All words represent an Egyptian female name. As with most Egyptian names, they have a meaning, mostly associated with human traits such as; Karima, meaning generous or Zakkeya, meaning of fragrant or good scented.
**”She” refers to the sun, this is due to the fact that the word in Arabic language “Shams” is a female and therefore takes a She pronoun. It is worth mentioning that in Arabic language most words or names of things are associated with either a female or male pronoun.
**Mulu’khiya is a type of green, leafy vegetable, grown in Egypt and popular as one of Egypt’s prominent traditional specialty foods. It was previously known as Moloukeya, in reference to its royalty (Molouk is the Arabic word meaning kings) as it used to be a royal meal, which was then banned by Al Al-Hakim bi Amr al-Lā; literally "Ruler by Allah's Command"), the sixth Fatimid caliph and 16th Ismaili imam (996–1021) and then allowed back after his reign. When ripe, it is harvested, washed and its leaves are plucked, finely chopped, and cooked with broth and spices. Served hot, it is similar in texture to soups only of thicker consistency.
*******Abla Fadila is an Egyptian media figure who was massively popular with generations of children and young adults for her national radio broadcasts in which she used to tell stories with her tender motherly voice. The word Abla stands for Ms, the same title children use when calling their teachers at school.
Ars poetica by Amin Haddad
All the birds that lived with me
Nested in my poems
I saw it flying
And I saw it running slaughtered
Now, I ask myself
-Do we come to birds in their dreams?
It does not matter!
Let’s go back again to the story of poetry, the father of all myths
It is possible, that you and I write a poem while sitting together
Looking at the sky and earth as they touch
I will start and say;
-The sky leans on earth to fill-up with water, and then goes to her groom, the God of the Nile, to water it
And you say;
-The sky is thirsty and the earth is a water pot
And I say to you;
-The sky is a bed-sheet and the earth, a bed
And you tell me;
-The sky is a glass and the earth is a tray patterned with trees
And we keep on saying;
-The sky is a dream and the earth, a wish
-The sky is a meaning and the earth, truth
-The sky is light and the earth, a curse
And we say;
-Between you and what you lived in the past, a meeting is impossible except in dreams or the infinity of the far-away horizon
I mean, Poetry is recitation
But remember, poetry requires an audience
Of human beings with their names
And of martyrs with their blood
And of angels with their splendour
And of birds...that connect skies to earth
Because of that,
Poets are in the dreams of birds
And birds nest in their poems
Published at October 2015