Out of Context

We present this work in honor of the Moroccan holiday, Proclamation of Independence.

Touria Majdouline
b. 1960


I gather my confusion and my things
My steps
And the remaining illusions
Of my body
I run beyond time
Beyond the vacant air
And space

Yesterday I drew my open space here
And dreamed a lot
I sowed shade, and fruit, and crops around
And with flames I wrote my poems…
I had plenty of time
To embroider space with words.
But today
I am left with nothing
But my dejection
And the crumbs of yesterdays gone by

Thus I gather my things
I wrap myself up in my own confusion
And I run
I run beyond time
I propagate into the distance
With neither shade
Nor sun.

Translation by Abdellah Benlamine and Norddine Zouitni


We present this work in honor of the 45th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Saïda Menebhi
1952 – 1977


You know my child
I wrote a poem for you
but don’t chastise me
for writing it is this language
that you don’t yet understand
it’s nothing my child
when you are older
you will seize this dream
that I dreamt in the middle of the day
when it’s your turn, you will tell the story of this woman
Arab prisoner
in her own country
Arab up to her white hair
her greenish eyes
the dream my child
when I see a pigeon
the birds that build their nests
on the roofs of prisons
I dream of sending a message to the revolutionaries
of Palestine
in order to assure them support for victory
I dream of having wings
just like sparrows
to traverse the skies
as far as Erythrea
as far as Dhofar
arms heavy with guns
the head with poems
I want to be a passenger
on board clouds
with my war attire
combating Pinochet
in the back country of Chili
so that my blood runs
on Chilean soil
that Neruda praised
o my dream
red Africa
without hungry children
I dream
that the moon
up there is going to fall
to take out the enemy
and that the moon will leave me
in Palestine or in the Sahara
I struggle for victory
For all people who are combatants.

Wait and See

We present this work in honor of Moroccan Independence Day.

Tahar Ben Jelloun
b. 1944


A people undone.
Your bread shreds itself ceremonially on mounds of reminiscence under the rain
musical prattle.
Wait and see a little and-you’ll-see-golden-
of-honey-in-your -well-virgins-in-your-
Just wait and see.

Translation by Conor Bracken

from Al-Ishriniyat

We present this work in honor of Green March Day.

Abd al-Rahman al-Fazazi
d. 1230


The Prophet, who dwells in the Garden’s summit,
Most deserving of God’s praise and glory,
Experienced, worthy to guide God’s servants,
The beloved, who knows the secrets of hearts
Leads the messengers from beginning to end
The beautiful dhikr begins and ends on him.
From the signs of the messengers they were ahead.
The most brilliant are those from our Messenger.

Translation by Amir Syed

Horses coming Resurrection

We present this work in honor of the Moroccan holiday, Revolution Day.

Amal Al Akhdar
21st century


Do not open the windows wide…
Outside… there are things
With no names,
Transcending the space in the air .
The trees bow its length to it,
The sun… shrinks to itself…
It was blinded by its light
She backed up sighing
The dust assumes the forms of humans,
Licking the buildings… the pavement
Ivy climbing…
The small café at the end of the street
Do not open the windows wide…
Let them be closed.
The descents of Tatars are coming
The bells are tolled from afar…
And the sky is growls and rumbles
The windmills…
Hardly stop
Electricity poles on the wall
Crackling and neighing
Horses struck by panic,
And they chose to leave
Do not open the windows wide ..
Your dreams may fall
On the pavement
And the climbing bulldozer may smash you
Or your heavy bodies may fall.
Do not ask about a beloved who did not return
Nor a kid of yours in school
Do not buy morning bread…
Nor Newspaper
Do not greet your neighbor as usual…
Do not fix the clock’s hands
No, no do not open the windows
Hide behind it on oblique chairs
Enjoy polishing an old coat
Or caress the backs of luxurious cats
Or sip evening tea
Or laugh on the impact of an insipid joke
Do not open wide the windows wide…
Swarms of swallows
Kidnap their small bodies,
And flee dripping
The tree shake their roots,
Wishing they would to fly.
But they only swallow their disappointments
And remain a witness of current events
Crackle of imminent thunder
The specters of the death…
Leaving their long slumber
Grumbling… And moaning
As if… horses of resurrection
Are coming

from Hieroglyphs

We present this work in honor of the Moroccan holiday, Allegiance Day.

Mohammed Bennis
b. 1948


A ghost
You attend to the ruby time
No east will rise in you or west
A niche
Drowned in blue rustle shrouded by the Kingdom
A clay horizon
Dangling like a bunch of grapes
For a hand that drifts away
And dies

A stone
Forgets its master
Was he
Or was he there
A stone above a stone
Rises to watch you
The comer
No one
Is still awake but you

A silence attends to me
And for you my guest
There will be a night of papyri
And a night of
Arriving in hissing scents
The night’s end
And beginning
Are identical
Friezes are becoming one
Under the feet of the river’s dusk
Intoxication echoes resonate inside me
And fade away

Translation by James Kirkup

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 

Lift Up My Steps

We present this work in honor of the First Day of Passover.

04-15 Freha
Freha Bat Avraham
d. 1756


Lift up my steps, O Lord, my savior,
I’d go to my country with a placid joy;
an ignorant people pursues me now,
and taunts me with a thunderous noise.
Take me, quickly, to a Galilee mountain,
and send your anger across their skies;
there I’ll see your light, my crown,
and say: Now I can die.