National Tragedy

By Bahar Saeed

Translated by Sherief Fayez

Who is he that explodes the heart of stone?

Who is he that spreads grief in every home?

The sigh of the starved -- was it not enough?

The bare foot -- was it not enough?

The severed hand -- was it not enough?

- And the limping youth?

The blood of the martyrs -- was it not enough?

The grief of the bereaved -- was it not enough?

That you should smear in dirt and blood

our history and culture,

set to fire

this peerless ancient treasure,

and now and then pick

on our children or fight with our ancestors?

Can the sad tears of humanity wash

from the history face these stains of dishonor?

Laila Sarahat

Translated by Sherief Fayez

Assamayi Mountain

Oh Assamayi Mountain

in your stony breaths is

the spirit of a thousand silent sparks.

Oh stone, oh patience

your height is faith’s resolve --

history’s sublime poem

Oh mountain

the myth of sacred pride is


in your conscious mind

The endless pain of this city is


in your cold stony vein

since long

Oh stone, oh patience

oh silent witness of crimes.

what wound was swelling

in your inner-stone’s bleeding heart

which suddenly sundered your heart?

Oh stone, oh patience!

A Poem by Qahar Ossi

Again blood

Reddens the streets

And the city is sitting in deep blues

Over the dead

Again children die hungry and naked

Without guns and politics

And mothers, unaccustomed to war and ruthlessness,

Cringe at the feet of death

Again the vulture claws of the new oppression

Play with the city corps

Again fountains of blood spiral higher

From the throat of the new wound, with a new cry

Again arrogance and revenge fuel

The bestial complex of the cowards

To add orphans to orphans

To add pain to the grieving heart

Again the blood Sphinx opens its mouth

To swallow this poor and afflicted town

Again from far and faraway the sky

Watches our dying

Again the nation, shedding blood from head to feet,

Enumerates its dead

Again the scarred and woeful nation

Weaves its crimson shrouds

Again the night in the guise of blood

Creeps on roofs and under doors

Again from the morning’s metallic bed

The day slowly and slowly melts feet and head

Again in the fight of two rams,

The ewe loses a foot and dies

In the grapple of two plough-oxen

The poor donkey loses all

And one who has no foot to escape

From this city is crushed by bombs

And one who has no desire to stay

Is horse-shoed, harnessed, and bound

Again shells and shrapnel

Pierce eyes and hearts

Again fear and grief grips the city

Again everywhere bodies taken to graveyards

This one in his stronghold entrenched

The other one up there vowing revenge

When you ask who is killed

You are told: Oh he was just a water-carrier

or a shoe-maker

Again the city tired of too much death

Burned and broken

And the Asmayi Mountain cracks from pain

Again Kabul sitting in deep blues