Cathedral of Death

04-21 El Ouazzani
Hassan El Ouazzani
b. 1970


I’m not concerned with the bloodiest wars of the world
I’m not bound to its decline towards the silliest of its abysses
Battle-fronts, public interests, the peaceful histories
of nations, killers of Jesus Christ, the right wing, its extreme
the north, its nearest side.

Concerned am I
with the primordial matter of darkness, the exiles of clay
descending from the dynasties of fools, the dwellers of the underground halls
where the river is my sleeping place, the seven skies prayer-rugs
to my sinful soul, and women are shadows to some lust,
or the groaning of a fighter dying close to his military equipment,
his hand on his heart
and his eyes bulging
out of his cheeks.

The Athenian boy in person,
the boy climbing the stairs of betrayal, the grandson of Father Kairos,
discovered at once that wisdom is the refuse of the mills of stupidity,
that the horizon is narrower than the gate of Troy,
and that nothing deserves dying for,
far away from the perfume of Venus,
closer to the mirage of victory

He, then, wished
he had extra breath
to wed his burnished sword to fire, and roam
the earth. His guide the astrolabe of desire
and lust his refuge.

And wished
the heart broadened a little
to contain Aphrodite’s splendor
that is close to the borders of extreme drunkenness.

And wished
God gave him the earth as a present so that the islands of language
become his own moons, and he become the Lord. To him
letters and the howdah of meaning bow.
To him the windmills appear.

And when
he realized that death is the chant of the moment
he put fire in his coffin and mounted
the cloud of his exhausted heart.

The Athenian boy in person, the runaway of the Acropolis
The boy whose footsteps I pursue, the ever-travelling boy.
His shadow became a cloud of questions.


Translation by Amina Jamal Eddine and Mohamed Bouya 

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