Ramsey Nasr
Ramsey Nasr
Selected Poems

Translated by David Colmer





welcome to the land of milk and honey

where figalmondapricots grow

unmetaphorically on accommodating trees

eat of them and be my guest today

i'll pay your taxi to the first roadblock


my father waits behind the second roadblock

he'll make you his guest of honour too

with oil bread oregano sesame

stars press down upon his roof

sleep there and give him nadir's love


the day to father is hard but essential

try to find a kid with a barrow

take donkeys or scramble on foot round the cliffs

follow the others keep telling yourself

now we are animals this is permissible


wheelchairs go bouncing through dust

back from the city where they cure the sick

diabetic with cancer in blazing sun

many old, many sick, many sweating animals

but that's the whole idea


in the day we are sweating climbing animals

because that's the whole idea

they beat and kick the animals to an end

that one day we will give milk and honey

one day manna will rain from human hands


if this seems insane to you habibi

just think that miles down the road

real girls and boys are sitting nervously

outside starbucks as an act of resistance

uproarious in fear of their lives






it isn't death that's freezing you

it isn't death that's stifling you

it's both of them and more

death's a leg up into darkness

the EXIT sign read back to front

death is kind infinite kindness

compared to this lifeless

falling falling from the curtain



and the seats are empty and the stage is small

and the curtain has no seam no edge at all




Translated from Tussen lelie en waterstofbom. The Early Years, [Between Lily and Nuclear Arms: The Early Years], De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 2009