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Omar Hazek

Omar Hazek

In  March 2013, PEN International protested the two-year prison sentence handed down to Egyptian poet Omar Hazek, who has been held in custody since his arrest in early December 2013 for taking part in a protest. PEN International believes that the poet Omar Hazek is imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly, and therefore calls for his immediate and unconditional release. For further information and to take action, click here.

Below is a selection of Hazek’s poetry.

I Believe the Winter Sun

 

I wonder …
How she used to inhale my yearning as it flutters between her hands
And my heart pounds with gasps of sorrow;
The night barks it: Here was my moon.
Then the sky hurls it to the rocks till it shatters
I wonder…
How she used to torture me through the letters of my name,
Letters that relished dying and attaining salvation at her fingertips:
Omar.Hazek
I swear I never saw my name so charming before,
I swear it was never so compassionate.
Why is it that when I ask my heart to repent
It asks me to fly my letters like doves…
And teach my tears to wet the  lovers’ sun,
And if sorrow rises within them, rejoice
And let my doves fly…

One day she will bake biscuits for her children
And smell your longing nestling at her fingertips
Like a small deer hiding in the grass.
Birds do not vary their tunes for their young to sleep
But for their trees to fill their lungs with the autumn…

One day she will bake biscuits for her children
A spring shall come for which the Earth will raise her children
And a winter shall come too young for our love, and will grow.

***************************************************

Love is painful when peeled, a soft orange of  memories,
Bitter is the nectar of far off seconds.
Yes, I remember I saw birds carry their trees and come
And carry their rivers and come
Did they find in my torment a sky for themselves
Or is it the heart growing…growing.
Yes, I remember they passed like a cloud yielding to the desert,
Something opens a window to the heart
And falls…falls
Until I feel it scatter on the sands of the pier.
Yes, I remember she loved peace
She would reconcile between kind-hearted milk and envious tea
With a lump of sugar.
Oh love, they say much about you
Yet, much stranger than you,
Your two eyes like mice
Your heart half-blind.
Oh love, let me tell you something about love…
You fill your goblet with the butterflies that dance around flowers
A prince, for whom gardens become marine blue in your hands
But your highness,
Place your palm on my chest
How the nights feel the taste of mature wounds
And how longing has hardened.
Come, I have—of tears—a fruit you desire
I have tales with no knights,
I shiver under the sheets
If a bitch bays for her dog late at night,
If a flower bares her bosom to the suckling butterfly,
If the moon shines at night.

 

*****************************************************

I believe the Winter Sun
I sleep because in sleep I sing as I desire,
I sing because I sleep as I wanted in my songs
I am the lung of a dream falling from its branch,
My letters – if I sleep – become pure
My voice – if I am absent is present…
Over there…over there<

Two arms entwined like a song swaying on the water
And two hearts with but one root
It keeps the earth from floundering in the pit of night
Two heads on the bed with no language, but a kiss will suffice…
So, we share the pains of our day like a sorrowful loaf

Dream so we may restore our history
Over there…over there
Your shoes tell of their morning errands
And mine listen,
As if with a smile on their face that remains unseen,
Over there…
A lazy apricot sun will rise
Our children sleeping between us like a small field of sunflowers.
Over there…

 

Over there…
I will grow old when my dead depart to the well of their dreams,
But, I won’t be alone,
I will open the chest of my heart;
Here I have a kiss that blooms every winter,

 

And a sun to wipe the tears in your eyes…
A discussion about our son’s bride,
A walk in the garden with our grandchildren,
A spot of blood that will not dry, will flower
***************************************************
Dream, your quilt is small and the night wintry…
Rise and remove your shoes away from my tree,
My cloud is heavy,
And my heart carries it and moves,
Neither do the birds drink from it,
Nor does it rain…
In the morning she will come with her gold ring,
So my finger will escape from her palm,
And she will gurgle, her brook laugh, in the spring sky.
So I steal beneath the pillow at the brink of the soul;
My heart clattering against my rib cage,
But on her face is the laughter of a river that frolics with its fish…
Therefore, take your bedtime kiss,
And I will burn the midnight oil…
Did you, perchance, learn anything about love.

September-December 2008

 

I run with the sea  

Dedicated to Kavafis

I run with the sea
I outstrip it, it outstrips me.
The full moon laughs,
Words take flight from my mouth
To play in the sand…mix up the letters
And scatter their names.

However, the stride of the sea is bigger…
My heart is small and trembles like the eyes of birds.
The sea wave toys with my words,
Its stride lengthens through my letters,
Teaching them how to catch a squirrel in the branches of rhymes,
How to splash water over a child.

It outstrips me…
The full moon’s laughter grows.
O sea my heart is small but it holds a procession of lovers
And a song that in you found not its harbour.

I outstrip it…
And a tiny star leaps onto a mulberry bush.
O sea,
Live as a man howling on the bosom of the sand
Like the swan song within you,
Be the King of my sins
Like the laughter of your drowning victims when their throats sing with water.
They had tidied their dreams in you,
Like a teenager colouring her laughter and scattering her things.

I outstrip, I outstrip…
But the sea licks my heart
It rides a wave and is scattered amongst the sand…
“I am not the sea because seagulls play barefoot on my chest
Nor because clouds kiss me and fly off
To feed from my lips their villages and deserts.
But I am the sea when two lovers come to my rocks
Hiding with me in their words,
Leaving with a kiss on my water.
The horizon flows into my womb, wave by wave
And the earth bares my beautiful, soft bosom.
Perhaps words the lovers wanted to forget overwhelmed them
Perhaps horses drag the sky to their impossible plants,
If an enamoured so desires.”

In my songs the sea is azure
And the fish of my heart now leap to it
And I follow laughing…laughing.
This is Alexandria that bears the voice of “Kavafis”, a child on its shoulders
That runs along the sea scattering its turquoise
Alexandria, her poet has come
Alexandria
Her poet
Has come.

February – April 2010

 

I Tear Down the Poem over You

To García Lorca
and
Khaled Saeed*

I sing with the tunes of my silence for a while
So, forgive me my country
For my blood is now walking on your asphalt
I sing for it not to be afraid in its loneliness
And I embrace my wings, hiding within the branches
Your sky has raised its knife above my broken voice…
Do Re Mi /Fa So La / Si Do Re

And I sing with an ugly voice in the face of your soldiers
Pardon me for loving you more than I thought
Soldiers! Release my corpse;
I fear for the imprisoned words underneath my captive tongue,
I fear for my dream to be crushed by your batons

My lady, escape from the windows of my heart…
Forgive me beautiful one, the smell of poetry is bitter on my lips
My kiss is a tragedy of a painful taste…
I bid you soldiers: Stop! I will kick you all, one by one with songs
But my song is weaved from silk
Do Re Mi /Fa So La / Si Do Re

My smell has scratched the morning breeze,
And the policeman came as meaningless menses
I told him: This is my corpse so -if you please- just leave
So he asked for my identity card, comparing the photos and names,
Saying: My heart is a clean new shoe, so shed your blood away
This morning is mine, bursting with joy.
I then called: Oh sea (and I held its blueness),

Send us two waves and take my dead carcass
It will be eaten by the hungry orphaned fish.
He said: I am asleep, leave my bed.
-“O sea I am Alexandria”,
The policeman told me: “Take Alexandria you damned,
And get her out of here,
Alexandria is torturing me with a flower in a loving hair braid
At the peace of sunset;
My shoe is hungry to crush her like a cockroach”.
I sang: “O Alexandria, you lovely joy of the poor
Do Re Mi /Fa So La / Si Do Re
But she did not answer,
Alexandria was afraid urinating behind her Ptolemaic graves,
I told her: This is my corpse so give me a sail
And get up, let us defend our death.
She said: Go to the sea, for it has become a gateway for all graves.

I went to arrange the letter of my words, letters above letters…
This is my cane, which I will chase you soldiers with,
And torture you with the chanting of my birds
Do Re Mi /Fa So La / Si Do Re

I shall tear down the poem above you all to die,
I am the Mother Language,
Words are my children
And you are biting them to throw your name-calling insults in the face of girls;
I will deprive you – sldiers- of my presence…
So live on without a language
You will not say sweet talk to your wives,
You will not pray for your fathers,
And you will not laugh with your children;

So, leave my corpse and go…
Alexandria is carried in a drop of my blood, running on the mud
Forgive me my country; the poem is bleeding in my sores and blisters
Do Re Mi /Fa So La / Si Do Re

Cousin Lorka will hear me, my country,
He will carry his corpse and come, to sing along with me
They have stolen life, but we together will defend our right to a peaceful death by the river
I know you released a duck in the Genil River – when they came to kill you
Here it is running in the Nile with its chicks …
I will feed them so be at rest
My night will sing on my corpse and will blow my seeds away
Do Re Mi /Fa So La / Si Do Re

My cousin said: Send my regards to Alexandria.
I replied: We will dream as much as the smile of a small field (sleeping with his toy in his arms):
The Mediterranean between us is smiling
Its shores meet in a kiss
So I spread my arms and pick an olive from Lorka`s garden,

I see the “Mediterranean” cities spreading its toys on the beach of Alexandria,
And swim…
I see Alexandria throwing a water ball to Cordoba, both laughing.
My homeland…My homeland… My homeland
My sky walks to you; and my pasture and my light
Do Re Mi /Fa So La / Si Do Re.

*Khaled Said is a young civilian who was brutally killed by the hands of the Egyptian police force. His murder was the trigger of the 25 January 2011 Revolution in Egypt.