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The enemy’s dead think mercilessly of me in their eternal sleep

while ghosts take to the stairs and house corners

the ghosts that I picked off the road and gathered like necklaces

from others’ necks and sins.

Sin goes to the neck… there I raise my ghosts, feed them

and they swim like black horses in my sleep.

With the energy of a dead person the last blues song rises

while I think of jealousy

the door is a slit open and breath enters through the cracks, the river’s

respiration, the drunks

and the woman who wakes to her past in the public garden

and when I fall asleep

I find a horse grazing grass

whenever I fall asleep

a horse comes to graze my dreams.

On my desk in Ramallah there are unfinished letters and photos of

old friends,

a poetry manuscript of a young man from Gaza, a sand hourglass,

and poem beginnings that flap like wings in my head.

I want to memorize you like that song in elementary school

the one I carry whole without errors

with my lisp and tilted head and dissonance

the little feet that stomp the concrete ground with fervor

the open hands that bang on the desks

All died in war, my friends and classmates…

and their little feet, their excited hands, remained

stomping the classroom floors, the dining tables and sidewalks,

The backs and shoulders of pedestrians…

Wherever I go

I hear them

I see them.

Black Horses

Fady Joudah, translation from
the Arabic written by Ghassan Zaqtan

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