Aleppo Diary


Writing is pain.

And the blood that sprinkles on the screen stains the scene and leaves on the couch what resembles spots of dried coffee which we touch with trembling fingers so that the infection will not come near us.

We recline with broken backs as if going to hell with eyes blurred a dark red.. yet it is brown as well and leaves in the soul what resembles rust.

We wipe the aged heads and escape pronouncing it, then lick at the salt flowing from our eyes.

Those who crawl from street to screen leave green traces on the asphalt that grow quickly into hedges of basil, they throw us with a flower and die quickly so that we will not be ashamed of ourselves.

Take off your shoes now and walk on broken glass, for you are in the sacred valley.


"The comrades in reading are asleep.
You wander alone among the library shelves
without any signs indicating exit.
A groaning comes from the right, from the third shelf
an entire section expelled from the novel
and laughter a tragic title
for a book on philosophy.
Politics flows like mucus from one shelf to another
There is no time for epic
for the Book of Delight and Intimacy
where Machado pulls back the cardboard wrapping
so that the plates will not fall

We are like the proof-sheets of books
full of paragraphs awaiting revision.


I sit on the balcony of the house. Aleppo is before me deserted and black. The clicking of plates in the darkness indicates that life occurs on a table. No sound except intermittent gunfire from somewhere and one shell preceded by a strange whistle… Someone is leaving this planet with a dry throat. Aleppo is before me black and silent. These enormous shadows may belong to trees, or to distant childhood stories, or may be black vapors expelled by women now waiting for their children to become numbers in a news report.

Aleppo. No plucking of an oud. No figure dances. No cup in the Nightingale. No drunkards. No song.

One by one
they awaken
beasts of the darkness.


Marina Shihwaro

I am Marina Constantine
widow of the priest George Shihwaro
Marcel's companion on the road - late at night - to our home;
endowed with secrets of the holy church
and with the cherries at the bottom of the cup of ambergris,
busy with laughter at the age of fifty,
with braids of my hair lost in drawers.
I am Marina
returning from the Carlton
where life clings to the music
and hardens like the gum tree

At my leisure
I sprinkle salt
though I know that the meal will not spoil
and I plunge a finger into the wine so the heart will rejoice.
I am Marina
who smelled at the wrong turn
the scent of fear diffusing from sweaty fists
and piercing the air like leaden metal
before the citadel vanished in the magician's hat

I am Marina
who did not know she had died
until she listened with the thousands wearing white and waving flowers
to the voice of the priest in the church of Prophet Ilyas:
O dearly beloved
let us chant within the hands of God
with humble heart:
Let rest our daughter's soul
carrying the crown to our Lord in Heaven



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Comments (1)

bassam housein

 texts look just beyond the land of war and blood and pain, fresh and quick-impact, and
 more interested in that which passes into the inner you and leave afterwards, at the end of a wars day .
Poems strong and pleasant, although it painful
I have read both and frankly has been affected by the Arabic more, but I had the pleasure expressive translation to speak, thanks to all

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