by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi

What tempts a barman in the small hours?
Nursing a drink that bores him,
he rinses the dishes, glancing
at the customers snoring in their seats -
slumped in the pall of yesterday's news,
petty fights and crude jokes

Fixing his mind on the coming day,
scratching an armpit, he pisses and wheezes
Clouds scud past the door
Birds flit on the windowsills
singing songs of those who have left
songs of those who will never return

Sip by sip
he is clearing his head
with his toast to the morning

The literal translation of this poem was made by Atef Alshaer

The final translated version of the poem is by Sarah Maguire


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