time the Editor’s choice is the Iraqi poet
Soheil Nham. He has a power of captivating his
readers. He views things from a subtle point of
view, without any malice to anyone. He writes
about his earth and soil stained with the blood
of the innocent. He sees the freedom fighters
in the first earth of Iraq. He identifies himself
with the fighters of freedom. As Editor of www.thanalonline.com,
I am proud that I am able to publish his poems.
A country losing its freedom in the twenty first
century, and compelled to fight not only for freedom,
but also for the ruined remains of the greatest
civilization ever of mankind cannot have a parallel;
perhaps Vietnam could be proud of a similar saga
of struggle. Soheil Nham is bale to provide a
little vitality to this struggle with his words;
at the same time, he is able to ruminate over
the beauties of nature and other sights amidst
the sighs he heaves at the thought of the bleeding
Seven Attempts to Portray Mr. President
He is alone in the hall,
red cup in hand,
feather hat on head.
Across the window, there are scattered corpses,
knocked down trees
and a handful of rabid dogs
He leans against
his eyelashes stuck to the glass,
his toothless mouth chewing unintelligible words
about our vanishing glory.
And in the distance the royal guards
are sitting around a table,
barking at each other.
like a rotten apple,
from his apertures stream out
black snakes and false secrets.
As he dozes,
he builds, out of his fantasies,
a wailing country
and awkward speeches
Full of pride,
he stands on the edge of the world
holding the bell of the final alarm
to ride back to the beginning of creation
as if he were trading two fires:
that of God and that of the battle
profit by his wisdom
as he mixes flaming colors.
The citizens have no president
shaping their reactions
to his lengthy tales
about his killing the ghoul
and his raging seas.
Biting his fingernails
with his bleeding gums,
he mourns over his falling image.
Translated by Haider Al-Kabi
* Poet and translator, Soheil Najm, was born
in Baghdad in 1956. He has published two collections
of poems: Breaking the Phrase, Beirut: Dar Al-Kunuz
Al-Adabiyah,1994, and Your Carpenter, O, Light,
Damascus: Dar Ninewa, 2002. He has also translated
and published more than ten literary works. He
lives now in Baghdad.