New Poetry: ‘Mind the Gap,’ a Syrian on the London Underground 

* A face ironed by the suns of Africa and wrinkled by the frost of Piccadilly Square. * A poem about love That castrates love And glorifies a cigarette After masturbation. * The one-line cosmic verse continues  Like a commandment from a Holy Book that has not yet been written: <Mind the gap.> * A great deal awaits you in London. * I came  Wanting to die In search of a beginning. Each time he sings His eye returns. * Their faces are hollow Stiff  As tree trunks. A face loosened by an anaesthetizing London. * The screeching of wheels against the winding steel rails  Resembles that ache of a heart in countries shattered by barrel bombs. * An abandoned face, left behind by its owner. The warning voice ebbs The passengers pour out and in  Leaving behind poems holding onto the ceiling straps. Moments of living or letting go An experience waiting to be lived.  He was the Culture and Arts Correspondent for Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. * A postmodern poem Full of bills And dating apps.  * A pure poem Lamenting its loneliness Sterile With no mention of breasts Or streaming salty vulvas And syphilitic penises. * I release a breath imprisoned since birth. * I want to yell at the top of my lungs: I came here From there From the great “Middle East” To draw a map of a world without checkpoints. I came from a burning land  To rise from my own ashes. * Also read: An Excerpt from Fadi Azzam’s ‘Huddud’s House’ New Poetry in Translation: Fadi Azzam’s ‘If You Are Syrian These Days …’ Poetry in Translation: Fadi Azzam’s ‘This Is Damascus, You Sons of Bitches’ Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading… A forgiving face, Melting in tenderness, Of a general in the army holding his child His hands wet with the remains of blood that has not yet dried. * A poem that boasts of victories, Unable to attain an erection. * Faces burnt by ice Scarred with gashes Pitted by emptiness. * A clenched face On the verge of vomiting out its bulging eyes. * The doors open. * The train stops.  * Silence quivers To the rhythm of Plath’s last breaths. Or so you think. * I taste the salt in my puckered mouth. London passes over me. * A face of an Irish poet who lost his beloved Belfast  Amidst the thick smoke of his pipe As he exhales an old anger. New passengers take their places in the car Others leave. * A face of a solider who lost an eye to the war. * I mind the gap. * <Mind the gap.> * I receive a message from a Syrian poet Who wanders in his sumptuous loneliness as he faces the world And writes from the bottom of the gap itself: “O the absence of those who returned.”[1] * I stare at the faces that haven’t yet fallen into the gap. * Behind me  The once-mighty voice Wanes: <Mind the gap.> __ Note: All modifications to the original poem were made with the permission of the poet. A clear, resolute voice Penetrates the tunnels in my head: <Mind the gap.> * I shift positions. * From below The city is peaceful. To ask: Now that we have died,  Why have we not yet arrived? I climb the stairs To the light at the end of the tunnel. * A poem that breaks taboos Tells the untold Written by a poet Who lies naked  Fucked by metaphors. The new station glistens with silence. * Faces so familiar  That they must be believed. * A face chased by something ambiguous Staring at nothing. I came from the roots of history and Its gaps  To dig up my own body. * A face disintegrated by silence, birds pecking away at its crumbs. I came from the great drought Thirsty, like sand longing for water. Time and cars travel in a continuous stream. * I close my eyes and the whole world dies. She holds her PhD in Educational Research: Languages and Diversity from the Werklund School of Education, the University of Calgary, and a Master’s Degree is in English Literature from the University of Oklahoma.  Her current research speaks to Syrian art and creative expression as resistance to oppression and dictatorship. A sleepy face stuck between the end and the means. The graveyards are raised above the tunnels. * A face faster than its owner Its lips racing. The moment a car stops is the same moment The passengers are moving. * A face scared of me And I, F. I open them so that all is born again. * A vernacular poem, Like a mirror, Recited by a rapper Who spits on mirrors. Their gazes  Broken Salty. [1] Issa Idris * Fadi Azzam is a Syrian novelist and writer, and is the author of Sarmada (2011), longlisted for the 2012 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, as well as Huddud’s House (2017), longlisted for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. A.,  Am terrified of it. * Feminine faces  Masculine  Gender-neutral Crammed close to one another Waiting at the mercy of the voice that returns Clear As Mozart’s rattle: <Mind the gap.> * I stare at the map.  The train must have descended into the deepest depths of London. * A leavened face Waiting to be baked one morning. * The place in which you live Has nothing to do with the truth you carry.  An engagement ring A withered rose in the buttonhole of a jacket An idea A memory. I came running away from my language To continue to dream in it. The world begins to emerge  Little by little Anew Innocent as the moment of condemnation Plain as life and death Amazing as your kohl-lined eyes Offering honey, coffee, and warmth on the ice of absence. * A poem full of questions  And exclamation marks While the child blurts:  “The king is naked.” * A poem on Ecstasy Written under the influence of plants and hangovers  About light and shadow Resembling the calamities of Aldous Huxley. His opinion columns have appeared in the NY Times and a number of newspapers across the Middle East and Arab Gulf.   Ghada Alatrash, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Critical and Creative Studies at Alberta University of the Arts in Calgary, Canada. * The roots of trees have not yet reached my train car. New Poetry: ‘Mind the Gap,’ a Syrian on the London Underground   December 12, 2022December 12, 2022 by mlynxqualey By Fadi Azzam Translated by Ghada Alatrash * On the underground I sit and contemplate the ceiling.

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