The Southerners*


The southerners are the vintage of the country, and its navel.

Its herbs that awaken miracles, its fruits that have been longed

for by the skies.

Songs chase them, elegies and wars, but bullets stitched their

corpses when they

Were sung to.

The southerners in my country are the image of god, and his

liquid absence.

*Dedicated for the martyrs who fell on the 17th of July under

fire by the political thieves in Iraq.


Published in Columbia journal on line.









—to Wasfi, my brother who vanished 30 years ago during the


In the morning we share cigarettes, and coffee.

I drink it mixed with bitterness, you reach for it with a frail


You are with me wearing your wet shirt,

And your saddened draped


You cling to your agonized girlfriend

In absence,

Carrying your suitcase with

Bare fingers.

You are still soft

Like someone whose life has not

Materialized yet.

Now you look for horses to carry you up to skies,

But you are slowing down this exile meant to end




a corruption

that swallowed our waiting.

I know your return is impossible.

Feeling the panicked pains inside me again

Whenever dreams invade me.

I know also this war depends on remorse

Because it peeled off your soft years greedily.


Published in Columbia journal on line.





The Set up


Leave me O pain

The world is spinning around me like a naked ear of wheat

Like a field that cannot reach its vintages

While I am wavering with my alienation amulets at what

remained of The impossible

Wishing for a time to pose with my remorse in place.




Beware O suffrage of waxing her closed doors with


Of burning this deposit of idleness in the ruins

Of her eyes,

Or of a goblin that grew in her pale silence,

This sticky silence is the desperate distance between the


And songs mixed with halted breaths,

Between her thin hand, and the draped evening like damp

loaves Mixed with saffron.





Drowned men plow the whiteness*


The Drowned say:

We were hiding from the barracks, telling on others and from the barb wires we stumbled with.

The sea has been pale, tricking our bodies with gossip.


The froth was about to clot

The mother says:

God used to water his gardens with the froth of their failing breaths and being out of breath.

I say:

Whenever I wanted to draw

I found the drowned men plowing the whiteness full of my news.


Published in crazyhorse literary Journal. Charleston university press.








Alone she knows

I have a heart that must mend its fragility by forgetting.

I have a greedy life motivating me with seduction.

Alone she knows

The happiness she anticipates is thin




Like a cloud that has been shattered by failure,

A cloud ushers us to far away creeks—we have to drain their waters off With rusty









Each night I count my defeats.

I scatter the sack of defeats before my eyes, just to hang them

on the line Of talk allowing them to ferment.

One morning I chatter like a child braided by air.

The night is too heavy when opening my sacks

To show me those defeats my soul never touched.









A Grass-blade*


Like floating grass, I follow your track in my head,

your figure when adding salt to time with laughter,

Your body when scattering it like a moist shirt over my

nakedness So as to hardly find my way to that spring risen

between two grasses. Here you are maneuvering like blind


like someone who does not Grasp a sticky life anymore.


I put in order my mistakes, those descended like rich chitchat,

You when passing in every dream with the makeup of lust,

dusting your nakedness

On a pale bed.

My father finding my childhood was stubborn, and cutting out

my wing of curiosity. My brothers pushing the boat towards a



salty pond, and attaching the froth

Of time to the labyrinth's compass.

My friend peeling the talks, and fabricating happiness with

dry laughs like soar coughs. Breasts harnessing the eye every

evening on the beach.

The magician, pointing his stick at a gathering of seagulls


Like rotten yeast.

Life collecting its earning of rot and sneaking in through the

joints of war.

Me hooked in the mirror sticking out a pale tongue towards



Excerpt published in crazyhorse literary journal. Charleston university press.









He closed one eye on the night,

To open another in his sleep with comfort.

In morning he prepared two cups, then drank his coffee alone,

Talking to his fingers about his never-ending alienated years.

In evening he walked the street twice—

One time for his sake, another for his friends whom he walked

with on the street alone Counting their names with his damp

fingers moistened with numbers.















That who I was, is not you?

What glazed your eyes with sadness, and peppered your face

with ash? Oh "Ali Rashid", I wish I could go back a handful

of years prior to That moment. Replacing ages with what I

had been.

But I have to mend the scene, cropping my own sins which

swap Doubt with faith.

To prevent the war from chewing my years again,

or the foreignness that fashions me with its grim, alienated

Dress—eating up what s left of time.










The Skies


The sky that is above me

The sky that is under me

And the sky that fills my suitcases with passion—

Do not fit any more, do not fit me, I who escaped a country.

Its skies used to roar with airplanes.

Countries accumulate us like war salvage, to count later in








Every time he builds a house, the sea swallows it His houses

keep falling apart once a minute

But he does not give up

He rubs the sand between two little hands

Like he who distills his nine years in repetition.





Oh My God


Oh my God,

We are the children of destruction and ruined cities.

What do we gain from our lives?

You planted us like being-seeds dried out between your hands

Then you threw us out carelessly—we grew like fodder for

your cattle. But if a land went dry in Levant

Or if soils turned, lodged in Baghdad

Our blood becomes your drinking water.

Oh my God,

Why do you feast on our lives?

There are your soldiers harvesting our necks in your name,

While gossip makers accumulate our bodies stitched with

bullets In their houses

As we are the vintage of their hate.

Do hearts get contaminated and virginity deteriorate in this


Does seduction grow wilder like this?

Then we have been hunted by bullets like terrified bucks

creeping towards your wisdom. Do we scatter similarly like

being—your sin where your hand is dipped in

Its ash

When you wiped out with bitter blackness the brows of


Oh my God

We are your sticky children full of death, but we do not want

anything Except graves—we recognize in them our shattered















We'll say goodbye*


While our eyes are wet with dreams that raced us to bed and sleep,

And to drink its coffees in our absence.


We'll say goodbye

While counting up cold years

Peeling what remained of them.


We'll say goodbye

Getting out of last evening

Accompanied with a handful of sticky wishes, and glasses we had not touched yet.

Just to receive tomorrow over and over again.


We'll say goodbye

While no space is left to turn time idle with forgetfulness.


*featured in Ila ezine.




Merry Christmas*


Your feet could be waxed while looking for sanctuary that is not yours

You may change tight countries for a refrigerator to preserve in your years from


I have nothing to say to you but

Merry Christmas

Though the hand that is over your shoulder is heavier

Than life itself.


*featured in Ila ezine




The Enemy*


I stretch out my hand toward my enemy to shake his

I sing a song he repeats every morning with a hoarse voice

I count up with him my losses

Sharing with him the cries of the dead,

But in the evening I have to wait with him who had returned from wars

Grouping them in equal numbers at random

For a nostalgic hug.


*featured in Ila ezine





pems by Ali Rashid: a visual artist and poet from Iraq who now lives in the Netherlands and writes his poetry in Arabic. Educated in Iraq, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Spain, Rashid has exhibited his work at numerous exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Among his many publications are a collection of poetry, Maps Dyed with Fear (Damascus 2003) and a play, Picture of the Last Dinner, (Damascus 2005). He has founded and edits a site in four languages that can be viewed at www.ila-magazine.com.


Translated By :Saleh Razzouk, fiction writer and translator living UAE. He is the translator of a study on the Arabic novel by Win-Chin Ouyang. His fiction publications include a number of books—Appending to Previous Matters (2008 Damascus), Dialogues of American Short Stories (2006 American Cultural Centre and Atlas bookshop in Damascus), Mad about Zenobia (1985 Damascus), Notebooks of Little Adam (1980 Damascus)—plus numerous stories in periodicals, such as The Laurel Review (United States), Alsafeer (Lebanon), Almasseerah (Lebanon), Altaleah AlAdabiah (Iraq), Althawra (Ministry of Information, Syria). Among his numerous translation publications is My Dear Friend Kafka (Selected Poems by Philip Terman, Nainawa Private House, Damascus, 2016). Previously was an associate professor in Fiber Sciences at The University of Aleppo.


Translation edited by Scott Minar:  

Scott Minar is Consulting Translations Editor for Crazyhorse magazine (College of Charleston—South Carolina, USA) and Associate Editor at Marick Press in Washington, DC. His latest collection of poems is Cymbalism (Mammoth Books 2016). HIs poems and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry International, Ninth Letter, Crazyhorse, The Newfoundland Herald, The Laurel Review, and elsewhere in the US, Canada, the Middle East, England, and Australia. Cymbalism has been translated into Arabic and released broadly in the Middle East. He is Professor of English at Ohio University Lancaster Campus.