My coffin awaits me somewhere at the horizon
I want it in sandalwood with dreams
pinned down like butterflies in the sermon
of an adolescence of eternity so brief
May my skeleton blossom with the seasons
my blood euphoric will flow freely
up to the very heart of your solid house and
to the shelter of love to devour your Eves
wreathed in incurable religions
I will be the old earth of Babylon
with its gods its satyrs and its legions
I will spread in your beds my pallid cyclones
and far very far in your shivering regions
I will paint my death on a canvas of autumn

– Ahmed Bouanani. from Photogrammes

translated by Emma Ramadan



Let the cricket slit night’s silence
with the scalpel of its throat
Let nightbirds coo and cuddle
In the swinging Eden of their nests;
But when dawn finally climbs down
Through the leering rafters,
I will be a promise
Eternal like your seasonless sky
   kiriji kiriji papelupe

– Niyi Osundare. from Moonsongs


To describe almond blossoms, the glossary of flowers
doesn’t come to my aid, and neither does the dictionary…
speech will snatch me to the scam of eloquence.
And eloquence wounds meaning then eulogizes the wound,
like a man who dictates to a woman her feelings.
How can almond blossoms radiate in my language
when I’m an echo?
And they are diaphanous like laughing water that sprouts
from the branches out of the sentry dew…

– Mahmoud Darwish. excerpt from To Describe Almond Blossoms

translated by Fady Joudah