Raed Anis Al-Jishi

Raed Anis Al-Jishi is a poet and translator from Qatif, Saudi Arabia. He has published one novel, seven volumes of poems in Arabic, one translated into French (Genèse de la mémoire passionnée) and one in English (Bleeding Gull: Look, Feel, Fly). Alongside a career as a writer, he teaches high school chemistry. He is a feminist and human rights activist, and works on issues involving children and literacy.

Translated by Amira Rammah
A Dance of Bullets

If out of passion I strained my heart,
it doesn’t matter.
You crossed each alley
of my inner streets –
mirrored the dream
running through my veins,
and from my garden,
the love grown
from a pear tree.

If I offer you roses
distilled from my blood
and if, in your honor
I play the anthem of salvation
with my heart’s beats,
it doesn’t matter.

it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if
all you could offer me is
a dance of bullets.
No borders for bounty,
with a thousand parties and factions,
and woes crown kings of passion.

I’m all & nothing
for the great & worthy belong
only to the free word.

Leave me then.
I chose mirrors
as a mode of reflection
and will –
a compass for my path.
The Genesis of Clay
I wear clay masks
made out of sapless soil.
Call on the storm cloud
chained by the bleak cold
to join the thrill of the newborn wind
on a pearl
muffled with pride.
The Beholder’s Secret
In your eyes a lethal little secret
The universe itself would shrivel
As if they spoke of life
scattered from a dancing lady’s hands
on the milky trail
by your songs as they ruled over borders
out of love’s excess

For your authentic smile
the tribe within me gathers (a choir)
between your lips and eyelids
the split of a blink
Swirling heads retreat
like coffee cups
of lovers on a sweet date
at the call of a wind
in Nineveh
From the word’s womb he was born
Adored parturition
unfurling in open fields
No room for the absurd
on the borders of hope

He embodies the chaos
that reinvents our humanness
We commit our follies
only to redeem ourselves

Our flesh scrambles the sails of faraway ships
Perhaps only the one bent
over a woman’s lips
will deliver us from the thick foam
and pour our coffee
over palm lines well made to read
on the shores of love
Baffled Gunpowder
Baffled, the gunpowder disparages you
With what pride did God mold your hands?

Each time, you called on Death
upon their divine revelations,
Death prostrated itself and prayed
like the heavens for your sake