Jalal Hakmaoui
Jalal Hakmaoui
Why does the poet take his wife out to McDonalds?


Conceited you sit with your legs crossed
While the waves are asleep under your feet
You look like a herd of wild camels
As you eat American hamburgers
For the first time in your life
Patting meanwhile
Your wife’s fat neck
As you tell her about Al-Nifarri’s washing machine
And about Othman’s shirt with the hole in it
And about the blond American fly you have recently
Swallowed – unwittingly.
And she talks to you about your hideous car
That resembles a scabby greyhound
Telling you that you ought to barter it for a respectable donkey
Before she herself barters you, together with all your critical
Theories, for anything that would do to decorate the bedroom.
Your wife giggles aloud
As she boisterously cries,
Opening the feathers of her legs to the tongue of the air.
You wish you could place her between your teeth
And crack her as you would crack a rotten walnut,
Or lay her inside the empty matchbox on the table.
But you are a faithful person
You believe that your own marriage was the culmination of a love story,
That you got married to a pig having the countenance of
Al-Manfaluti and the trotters of Nazik Al-Mala’ika,
And that you (therefore) commit suicide daily
By swallowing 100 classical poems.
Surely you do not joke with swine
And the swine (this is what is important) have no time to waste joking with you.
For as soon as you press your mouth against the mouth
of the whale sitting before you,
You realise that the earth cannot sink in a glass half-filled with chilled water,
And that you are a poet at the peak of happiness.

The skinny girl with the tiny head
That resembles a tennis ball
Reads Femme actuelle
And stupidly stares at
The couples in the McDonald’s cell
As happiness rushes out of their big mouths
Like spit,
While they, with such paternal affectation, put their hand on the
Bums of their blond kids who keep crying as they point to the
Street with their little plastic fingers:
PAPA . . .  PAPA . . .  Regarde . . .  regarde . . .
Cet homme pisse sur notre voiture

The McDonald’s laughs and scratches his tail
And the true poem is a net with huge holes
Intended to trap as many hyenas as possible.
I do not trust the poet’s wife – who has the countenance of Al-Manfaluti
Nor do I trust the eyes of the net.
The same is true of the skinny girl
Who reads Femme actuelle
And from time to rime glances at her watch
Without drinking her glass of Coke.


Translated by Hassan Hilmy
from ‘Bitaqat Uzubiyya’,
Gilgamesh Editions, Paris, 1997