Every night I place this creature on my table
And pull its ears,
Till tears of joy come to its eyes.
Another cold winter, penetrated by airplanes
And soldiers sitting on the edge of a hillock,
Waiting for history
To rise up from the darkness of the marshes
With a gun in its hand,
To shoot angels
Training for the revolution.
Every night I put my hand on this country,
It slips away from my fingers,
Like a soldier running from the front.
— Fadhil al-Azzawi
Fadhil al-Azzawi was one of the many academics and activists incarcerated after the 1963 coup in Iraq. He spent two years in prison. In 1976, he was jailed again for reading his (banned) poetry in public. After his release, he fled to Germany. He has been living in exile since 1977
During my long, boring hours of spare time
I sit to play with the earth’s sphere.
I establish countries without police or parties
and I scrap others that no longer attract consumers.
I run roaring rivers through barren deserts
and I create continents and oceans
that I save for the future just in case.
I draw a new colored map of the nations:
I roll Germany to the Pacific Ocean teeming with whales
and I let the poor refugees
sail pirates’ ships to her coasts
in the fog
dreaming of the promised garden in Bavaria.
I switch England with Afghanistan
so that its youth can smoke hashish for free
provided courtesy of Her Majesty’s government.
I smuggle Kuwait from its fenced and mined borders
to Comoro, the islands
of the moon in its eclipse,
keeping the oil fields intact, of course.
At the same time I transport Baghdad
in the midst of loud drumming
to the islands of Tahiti.
I let Saudi Arabia crouch in its eternal desert
to preserve the purity of her thoroughbred camels.
This is before I surrender America
back to the Indians
just to give history
the justice it has long lacked.
I know that changing the world is not easy
but it remains necessary nonetheless.
— Fadhil al-Azzawi
Fadhil al-Azzawi was one of the many academics and activists incarcerated after the 1963 coup in Iraq. He spent two years in prison. In 1976, he was jailed again for reading a banned poem in public. After his release, he fled to Germany. He has been living in exile since 1977.