Heart with Windows but No Doors by Nasser Rabah

Translated by Saleh Razzouk and Philip Terman | Poetry


He sang the song . . . remembered the tune completely.

Died when skittering down non-ending streets like hopes,

like darning garden’s air, pouring his spirit on the wall as rhymed dust.


Confusing the details of a rose striving to remember his names.


The singer died, the songs like marble tombstones.

How did his chest bear

the flowering-dry bullet?


O those who die each day accidentally cannot disturb a catastrophe.

Do not pause to nap on the fence

with hurried steps.

Smile for the road to make sure it does not see Fatiha* in your wounds.

Tear off your usual day, throw it through the window, exactly under

the wheels.

It is, however, one day.



I saw a cloud running. I followed it till I lost my home.

I saw a road descending, I gave it a rifle, and returned

without legs. I saw a lost woman draping on her fingers

the clothes of the wounded. I stoned her with a stone of weeping. I saw

songs pouring from a pale Mirror and I got tired,

I slept. Who cares about a mirror in sleep!  Who

cares for singing when returning pale because of war?



Why do you cough details of things in the night?

My sunken ships are awake. The sea tucks them on my heart’s bank,

singing again and again the names of the dead like an anthem.

I try not to blush even when it speaks my name.

How am I supposed to count my stars with fingers of my heart

knotted with history books as anchors?

No lifebuoy, no boat, and here we are . . .

the tide stole my country,

like my bed, like my daydreams.   


Why are details of things coughing in the dark? Insane rains of doubt

sneaking through a neighbor’s window to swear at me?

As I swear at him. The clock is frozen.

I am accused of ploughing night water.

Behind me cough medicine pours out.


*From the first Sura of the Quran