–Mahmoud Darwish

If the catastrophe goes on, it has gone on/ dragonflies
will mime, mummify in despair until one grows
an aardvark’s tongue, licks its wings and legs free
to procreate new “lines of flight”/ and the egret
now a brown duck, will find a ship or a rock on which to dock
beguiled and perplexed like someone saved from drowning
though not from Poseidon’s beasts/ no use trying
to hose its feathers down, no down, no downtime, or time
for this one bird when sight is set on the future
of a thousand other birds/ don’t worry
they quickly learn from the floating drift-carcasses
and dolphin logs, and from those who have survived
who will perish in their intoxicated plumes like sleeping
under car hoods in a mechanic’s garage for 5000 miles
on end, oil change, and Gulf jumbo shrimp gulping/
If all is one, one is not all/ the earth always wins for losing.

–Fady Joudah



All these words will matter nothing to the fishermen whose livelihoods are destroyed, or will matter little to the fishermen whose livelihoods are severely crippled. But perhaps those who inherit the earth are those who survive the atrocities of power, and some of these words, these records, might remain (if only in memory) to tell of the catastrophe that has gone on. It is always devastating to think of the different calamities that cross the threshold for us; each one of us has a different threshold it seems, and some disasters appear more “universal” than others, or more “universalizing”, and not infrequently they are the disasters that are “natural” where “nature” (and not necessarily man) is the primary victim (and man is a secondary one, whether primary culprit or not). This poem is also a tribute to Franz Wright’s spirit, and a tribute to Mahmoud Darwish as a “nature” poet, a poet of the earth.


Fady Joudah’s The Earth in the Attic won the Yale Series for Younger Poets in 2007. He is also the translator of Mahmoud Darwish’s The Butterfly’s Burden and If I Were Another.

2 thoughts on ““WHO HAS NO LAND HAS NO SEA” by Fady Joudah

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