Three Poems from Rojava, Syria

translated by 

Taha Khalil, Untitled, acrylic on canvas

Scapegoat

And the knife is in your hand
You look just like Abraham, our prophet
I’m your old, old Ishmael.

 

Captivity

Late at night
As if I’m a winter sparrow
Your hand draws me from my nest
Your hand closes around me
Something beats in your hand
And the quiver will remind you, for a hundred years.

 

Execution

to Khawla Ghazi

The young man who knelt on the edge of the asphalt
The young man whose hands were tied behind him
The young man who was dreaming of sparrows
Before being shot in the head
Before the murderer finished reciting his verses
A pebble ached beneath his knee
The young man shifted his weight
And prepared for the bullet.

Translations from the Kurmanji & Arabic

Read an interview with Taha Khalif from this same issue.

Taha Khalil is a writer, painter, and intellectual who was one of the first Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activists in Syria. Today he hosts a regular television program on Ronahi TV in Qamishlo and is one of the Rojava Centre for Strategic Studies’ three directors.

Displaced from his home by the Islamic State’s attempt to exterminate the Êzîdî, Zêdan Xelef (b. 1995, Izêr) arrived with his family to the Chamishko IDP camp in late 2014. His current projects include translating Whitman’s Song of Myself into Kurmanji.

Poet David Shook’s most recent book-length translations are Jorge Eduardo Eielson’s Room in Rome and Pablo d’Ors’s The Friend of the Desert. Their new verse collection, Atlas estelar, is forthcoming in 2020.

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