Lately, I haven't attempted poems, or arresting public attention.
I've stopped articulating verses, advancing my words,
haven't recited the initials - the alliterative letters of Alif.
I've stopped being involved, playing by form's essential rules,
but how can I stand useless, whilst my people grieve and ache?
With affairs as they are, I must utter a few words.
A country has lost its father. It is entirely orphaned.
Long ago his wife crossed over. She passed from this earth.
The land's sealed off by fences, behind them dark acts happen.
There are no uncles to help, there are no aunts,
instead kin kill each other; they dig each other's graves
as life undermines life; one day occurs after another.
Say it: snakes are toxic-tongued, assuming human masks.
Say it: we can't observe those we once called intellectuals.
Say it: no one is different, they are all equally bad.
Where are the envoys? Cast into a pit.
Those who refused orders? Blades stabbed their arteries.
They antagonise each other, ignore the others,
these unseeing Somalis, who can't tell good from evil.
If once they were mighty, today they engage in self-slaughter.
Hey Abees! There's been curses, affliction, sorrow.
Above Somali ground, clouds of dust unspooled.
Humans couldn't endure it, the heat-blast of awful burning
or the dumping ground, where a world practises shitting.
An urgent stampede, no abode here for the living.
A terror so intense, they fragmented, fled apart:
some of them are impotent, they are howling out for help,
some of them are attacked, bombs aim at them without pity,
some of them are hunted, hiding in the jungle,
some of them are hopeless, flung across the Arab World,
some of them are running to asylum in the west,
some of them take boats, sink to death in the unfathomable sea.
I'm altogether bewildered. Don't understand this misfortune.
I'm angered in isolation - it feels like we're all alone.
I'm embarrassed at the lack, how there is no understanding -
wrongly interpreted religion, and the constant contradictions.
How insecure the student and educator's situation -
they're both aware of symbols in the Hadith and Qur'an
and select the lines of text that suit their assertions.
With your absence of mercy, the Qur'an loses eternity.
Other nations accuse us, and we've performed those acts.
Everyone knows this, but those who act.
Oh don't I weep and mourn in my heart, out of rage and agony?
Oh don't I weep and mourn in my heart, for the empty future?
Oh don't I weep and mourn in my heart, for their ‘leave-me-alone-to-have-it-
Oh don't I weep and mourn in my heart, at idle hate and revenge?
Oh don't I weep and mourn in my heart, that we're not assigned to Paradise?
Oh don't I weep and mourn in my heart, when power's not quiet or easy?
Think of a mother, like the she-camel whose offspring has died -
they fill its skin up with grasses, trick her into giving milk.
The mother looks everywhere, but her searches are ended,
from dawn until its dark, she moans her ah and oh.
Every time she steps, an explosion rips her spinal cord,
every time she steps, heavy artillery shells fall.
Let me not eat out my heart, though distress accompanies me
and colonialism and dictatorship are reborn in my country.
Though owning slaves is over, inequality's door creaks open -
the black Africans are worse than white colonizers earlier.
Our men have lost awareness and also their way
like calves instructed to take the burden, to slow up at whoa!
Animate skeletons, undernourished goats, their bones show.
But our hopelessness is the worst act, in this upside down society,
how, unresisting, we execute malevolent orders.
Hey Abees! The nation's trust was ensnared by selfish wealth.
If we're far behind our peers and looking so appalling,
maybe the appropriate thing is not to keep on living,
not to endure as if it's already after,
to move away entirely from this earth.
Let me halt my Alif alliteration. I could go on and on.
Oh God, no one else is responsible. The blame ends with Them.
Oh God, the suspicions, the endless ill will.
Oh God, the collusion, the grudges against each other.
Oh God, the parched season, the drought occurring now.
This is a prayer for flowers and leaves.
Oh God, bring ease. We thirst after peace!
And later, usher in new starts, fresh air -
release from intense hatred. I end now:
may a leader, obeying Allah, bring us together.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Maxamed Xasan 'Alto'
The final translated version of the poem is by Clare Pollard
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2014