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Basim Furat --Poet
Selected poems from Here and There by Basim Furat with permission from the author.
Basim was born in Karbalaa, Iraq in 1967.


  1. Here and There

  2. My Rank: Defeated

  3. Suicide

  4. The Autumn of Minarets

  5. update
  6. I embrace a tower thinking it's a minaret

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(Translated by Abdul Monem Nasser)

Aotearoa, Aetearoa
My sweet refuge!
Your streets are lean like the waists of woman
Flanked by dancing trees
Your gardens take me to the Hanging Gardens
Which always lie in my memory

Your rivers are unlike the Euphrates:
I see them starting to sweat
Beside the glamour of the Tigris
Your mountains bring me to Assyria and to the Four Deities
They astound me and sneak into my dreams

Why did you not open your arms with joy
To the chariots of my ancestors, who taught language to the clay?
Why did you hide so far away
When the champion of Uruk went to swim in Bowen Falls?
There were no snakes to pilfer his eternal glory

Your solitude smites your beauty
And my grief pours from lips
Signalling to the crouching oceans
Tangaroa, I count my loss till the open-end
While Tane Mahuta chapters the weeping and chirping

Your clouds interlace, stealing joyfulness away
They sip tea and drink with us in cafes
And angrily protest for nothing;
The winds batter your bashful coldness
It is Tawhirimatea, ever intoxicated

Your Sun with ageless braids
Leads the morning to seduction
And your roads lean on passerby
To beg their worries

The hills that never take

Off their robes of green
Drive my longing for desert sands
That case the rivers and towns

Your shores are becoming weary
From the wailing of waves
That pound with their primitive progeny
And their womanly wanderings
Till they become satiated by the sea

The sea, with its slander,
Plays the tune of its sandals
Unaware of ships of unrest within my head

Your rains are questions of the Lord with no answers
Whenever the cold is close to our last breath
We take refuge in the kisses of our loved ones

When the hands of the clock sleep
Homelands procreate beauty
Overshadowed by Ranginui in his kindness and his moons

Your cities are replete with women and flowers
With winds that mar their silence
And on their sides beaches revolt
And trees, alarmed and baffled, look at me

I am overburdened with agonies
My homeland knocks nightly on my door
Should I open it?
I, running away impetuously
From the narcissism of wars
I, a firm believer in day break with no grudges,
As well as that shrivelling tremble before the onset of dusk

By Basim Furat

(Translated by Abdul Monem Nasser)

A refugee,
Yes, I am a refugee.
Got sick of wars
And found comfort in the shade of exile.
From my father,
I inherited ruin.
From the barracks,
The taste of degradation.
Years of hunger
Whinny in my lips.

In airports, I have fallen:
I have fingerprints,
And on my passport
Slaps from security men.
At the borders
I have a memory swelling with pus,
And from the past
I have the spittle of warplanes
(That immerse us in a tasty bowl
Ready for destruction).

My shirt is wet with the dew of minarets,
The yearning of the people
And the pleas of friends.
For my mother: the chore of waiting,
Until waiting itself became skilled in waiting,
While all the times eyes classified me:
A refugee, a refugee …<

At the noon of July the twenty-second, 1996,
Karbalaa embraced Hiroshima
And I became a number in the U.N. archives.
I am a refugee;
My visage: shores of agony.

Mighty men
Who carved valor on their shoulders
Sank between my shores,
And the prophets
Sought shade beneath my transgressions.
I am a refugee.

The recklessness of an officer
And the stupidity of a Sergeant
Smuggled the nation,
Awash in an oil truck of grief.
So, I came home from the war,
With my rank: Defeated.

By Basim Furat

(Translated by Abbas El Sheikh)

The voice of the skies has cracked from her pagan silence,
The violet sings in lust for her smile
And the angels supplicate for the fading grief
Between her eyes.

My love …
May the wilderness gather the remains
Of a passion moaning in your hands,
A passion of cooing
A passion of departure,
A passion of the poem in exile
Which recites a wailing for her roving poet
Between the dust of dating or the rain of memory.

Why was I burnt by the warmth of her turning?

I might be the last of the returnees
From the maze of her pastoral forests,
Pasturing my suicide
While it is resorting to the bleeding of the sublime question:
Why am I in love with you?

The fingers of my soul play with your hair.

By Basim Furat

(Translated by Abul Monem Nasser)

Hymns of priests and saints
Prayers of martyrs
Eulogies of lovers of the Lord
The angels are still roving inside your alleys
Burning frankincense
So that your innocence is protected from the cries of Khambaba!
They inbue your dust with Henna
And they chant: Karba-elo, an ever-youthful woman
A blending of the water's perplexity with foes
An ancient name it is, in ablution by history and heroism
Sadness and no grudges
The banners of wailers flood the horizon

Oh, the most ancient of holy places!
We came to you with yearning and gems
To slip your chaste water
The flowing songs of those who took refuge in your chastity
To escape the stains of wars
Those who lean on the shoulders of the Glory
And crave for immortality
Children of your course
For them, their highest esteem is but to delve in rejection
They fed their patience to Al-Hallaj
And poured their forbearance to all
They traded generosity with determination
And bound their hearts to their shields
And they danced - jubilant - till death
They ate up their hunger to fatten the muscle of death
And with their mellowness they watered the dew
And by mercy they split open the rock
They honoured generosity
Their doors were wide open
And their windows grew old in waiting
But, the north wind was cruel to them

Oh, you the multitude of domes and minarets of the Lord!
Why is it - the further I am from you, the closer I become?
With me, I carry my compass
Which asks nothing but to change your name
I open my books, to find the word pointing towards your heavenly adornment
My candles dip their beams into your gilded domes
You are the paradise of tears
And the joy of sobs and cries
My dreams look for inspiration in your cooing
And rub somnolence from my bed
The same somnolence that deserted me for your wide rivers
I wet my silence with the autumn of minarets
And the words pour out
My childhood is recorded in the Plaza of the Two Shrines
Yet forgotten is my boyhood that gulped veils at the Gate of Al-Qibla
My years in Al Zainabiyah Hill disport with beads and agate
In Al Abbas Road beauty and queries vie

Oh, you, home to sweet basil!
I am the guardian of your thirsty love
My saddle is in gold, beautified with day break
My hymns are made wet by the call to prayer
So, they bathed in your streams and brooks
By your air, they were perfumed
From your torches I lit my words
While your black banners soared around the throne
To be your witness too

My exit is through Salalimah gate
Like a dutiful son I salute
And pilgrimage to the infinite
To my right, the tree of eternity
To my left, the two severed hands of Al-Abbas
Waving to me after dark
By thirst and yearning
In front of me, domes shrouded in gold
Minarets falling asleep in the palms of heaven
Time and stars tickle their eyelids
Doors inlaid in gold and silver
Palms of wailing mothers, adorned with Henna, are bleeding in lament

I discard my body before getting there
Fences adorn the rocks of Karbalaa
And history oozes with blood and grief
Turbans fill the plains, their mourning darker than the aging of time
Are others are in peace with sadness and frost
Their veils scavenge intruders, only to be stabbed by security agents
Streets are born in the wombs of alleys, for hermitages to grow
Fruit gardens lean on the shoulders of cities
Fields are drowning, clicking their fingers
And beards betrayed by their kindness
And market places that copulate

At the end of black banners you wake up
There, check points are waiting for you.

From Here and There by Basim Furat

(Translated from the Arabic by Jawad Wadi
Edited by Mark Pirie)

When I try to catch drowsiness
A sun which follows
Night bands
Scratches my face
Like an army
Being exhausted
By defeats
The sorrow stretches out
In my steps
And I cry:
How many years
Have been prepared
For this attired speech
In blackness?

My shadows are arrogant
With me
I talk to people passing words
About a sky
That I once seated
On my bed
Letting its stars dance
Till a burning Autumn
Escaped, sighing
Its dryness

In gardens, I whispered
To butterflies to seek
My door
I left nothing on the table
But my defeats
I don't know
How the Arabian jasmine
Held me
We are only frustrations
With rusty memories

In order
To pass the time
In exile
I didn't look back
At my wounds
I fed the river
My garments
While my eyes
Were smelling the scent
Of my absence
I didn't feel
Except for the waiting of others

When the flocks of the stars
Were ravishing the darkness carriage
I revealed my insanity
To the pavements
But I was afraid of
Envy from women passing by

I fascinate in myrtle
Which is like me
It liberates the sparrows
To chirp
I relax, caring for sleepless cooing
I say:
For each tempest
My forgetfulness reclines -
My heart is a field
Not to be disdained
By warplanes!

My heart is a compass
And a lamp that morning
Is dangling from
I seduce it with slander
The daffodil accompanies me
Never saying farewell

- How did they send me to war
If I am enchained with love? -

My mother burned
Thirteen candles
To adorn my coming
And when the windows
Grew old with waiting
I burned what remained
For departure

On each door
There was a black banner
Splitting the potency of
Day light
Oh, you, my ruin
Stop your propagation!

A silence stays in drowsiness
And leaves
I watch the early firebrand
Playing with the jonquil
I beckon to her
To shun me with whiteness
Her sympathy amazes me
- I will compete with her coldness
In my dreams -
How can I ravish her chest
If jasmine never looks happy?
How can I lead the birches?
Who may I lead?
Laughter follows music
And guards her lips
From my daytime
So bitter is the waist
When it forcefully lisps my sinking
So bitter I become
When I walk the virgin streets
For my … RISE!

The neigh is digging
A well for my home
The flocks of light
Are hidden in my eyelids
So many wishes are leaving
My head
Cooing steps out
Of the window
A singer's voice
Becomes husky
Like a pale shining
We have leaked in stations

We restore the eyelids
Of linden
We beg blind lamps
To swim in darkness
The stars are locked up high
I unleash my spark
Towards you
But it doesn't arrive
I talk to the sorrow
About you, it beckons me
To palm-trees
To sack eternity
From my slumber
And wipe its shores
From my brow

May I listen to the secret delirium
While it writhes on my page
Leaving my life on the table
Letting out its grief?
I have chosen the loneliness
Of the rain's flasks
I walk my labyrinth
And enter deeply
I don't look round
At the windows
When I hide my expressions
In its bedroom
I don't look around
At the fields of abas
I don't see
Where their rivulets
Are departing from
The moon caprice
Combs their nights

The woman of forty
- My mother -
Seats my thirty years
On her knees
To suckle me
She weeps for me
And for her dreams as well
On her thighs
Angels slumber

This woman's
Femininity flows
In my hands
And the sky flourishes
With uncultivated lilac
The streams tend to whiteness
And the shores freely
Beckon to me
I worry about God
In the deluge

There is no Prophet
To save those who remain
Balconies are casing us
With one eye
Our shadows are pelting
The curtains with kisses
The waves implore
The shirts of passers-by
To bottle the coasts
In the fog's nausea
The carriages exchange
Their scratches and wet maps
With the waves
I embrace a tower
Thinking it's a minaret
For when the President
Didn't find his enemies
He threw the frontiers
Behind me
March becomes pale
I smoke nothing
But my pain
The daisy is so lagging
To face the songs
That lean on our lives

By Basim Furat