The following are translations of poems by the Omani poet Hilal al Hajri (1958) from his collection titled: “Like a Mountain Bird Watching the Collapse of the World”, (Beirut 2013).
If only men were made of sea haze
Before the sunset
If only they weren’t made of clay!
The Interior of Oman
Even the storms that hit Oman
Had a colonial bent:
They’d lop off noses and ears
From Mosera to Qalhat and Muscat
And the Indian Ocean would devour them
They certainly read the map of Albuquerque
Though the Interior was fortified by
Its mountains and sorcerers
Feared by empires and storms!
The bowels of a hypocritical whale
On the beach
The seagulls scramble for
With style and character
Are better than a mouse’s carrion
The literati bite
Their saliva flowing to their knees!
The Strange Woman
I love you
I yearn for you
O strange woman
I’ve no way to reach you
To give you a birthday gift or flower
But I won’t hesitate a moment
To pluck my soul
And send it by post
A sacrifice to your sacred love.
A Letter to Federico Garcia Lorca
Descended on the drinking table
Who fathoms it?
Who weighs it?
Give me a splinter
From the bullet that pierced your betrayed heart.
I want to die
With the taste of revolution
And the sweetness of outburst on my tongue.
In the Last Part of the Night
Glory to you O crescent
I see you between curtain and wall
Just like a scythe
About to cut this pale sky.
Quench this heart, thirsty since Adam
I seek your help
In the black sinews of this wasteland
Let your tears rain
With pity and mercy
On this lost Bedouin
Who’s burning on the embers of loss
A single drop
A single drop might moisten his throat
To start screaming again
Amidst this chaos.
I’m but a bullet in the heart of this darkness
I trace the light of revolution and the impossible
But I may hit against a fort or lighthouse!
Let the light of your face
Be the Mecca of this believer!
A Letter from Cambridge
Arabia is the land of fault
Where the prophets were sent
Their followers fight with bells and minarets
But here in Cambridge