The Annual Anti-Valentine’s Day Poem: ‘The Wall of Lost Chances’

Ahmed Taha is an Egyptian poet who has published four collections of poetry. Despite this, he remains little known outside the Arab world. This year, from   Ahmad Taha’s Empire of Walls:
The wall of lost chances
By Ahmed Taha, translated from the Arabic by Thoraya El-Rayyes
Without a care
you push your black hair
behind you
and set my dreams free. He lives in Cairo, Egypt. You must honor the oppressed in Egypt , instead of your hatred of the great Islam which defends the freedom and dignity of the whole human kind, read the true history. And perhaps
a professional burglar
when I thought of what was under your shorts. She lives in Amman, Jordan. But that sagging house,
on whose walls hang
your underwear,
in whose corners lie
your thick-heeled shoes. And I will raise the sheet
that covers your bed
so it becomes a flag. And then
put the medal on my chest,
the flag under my head,
and sleep. Previous anti-Valentine’s Day lit:
Yehia Jaber’s ‘How I Became a Suicide Bomber’
Basma Nsour’s ‘That Pathetic Woman’


Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditGoogleTumblrPinterestPocketLike this:Like Loading…‹ Sinan Antoon’s IPAF-longlisted ‘Index’ and the Emotional Lives of ObjectsIraq + 100 Writers Anoud and Diyaa al-Jubeili, Writing ‘About the Fires Burning You Up from Within’ ›Categories: love

2 replies


February 14, 2017 • 3:05 pm

What a shame! I’ve nothing to tell you
my past
to put you
to sleep
and unfurl your dreams. #
From Ahmad Taha’s poetry collection Empire of Walls, in which each poem forms one wall. Arabic literature   has plenty to offer the (classically) romantic-minded   reader. A General begging for victories
at the edges of cafes –
on his chest, medals jostling
like a flock of ants. Her translations have received accolades from the Modern Language Association and the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas. Thoraya El-Rayyes is a Palestinian-Canadian literary translator who specializes in bringing Arabic literature from the Levant into English. All I remember is
I was born like this,
a wolf inept even at howling
yet always dreaming
of prey. And then
my hands will knead this until it is
like a plug,
will pound it on an abandoned pavement,
until it is a medal. Reply ↓


February 14, 2017 • 4:16 pm

Reply ↓ But each year, Thoraya El-Rayyes and ArabLit pull together literature that’s not meant for greeting cards. He is a Christian vicar who raped the daughter of the Roman Emperor in the third century A D. Since the 1970s, he has played an active role in Egyptian literary life having founded and co-founded several literary magazines and groups including Aswat (Voices), al-Kitaba al-Sawda’ (Black Writing) and al-Garad (Locusts). You honor Valentine! But I want a bona fide medal,
formidable battles
that could go on for years,
enough to kill all the Generals
and raze all the cities
and defeat all the warriors
but me. Perhaps I was
an august General
when I shot my bullets at your chest. By what right do you
jail them by night beneath your bed
while you, awake,
await their death?