Name: Basim Furat
country : New Zealand
Basim Furat was born in Karbalaa, Iraq, in 1967 and started writing poetry when he was in primary school. His first poem was published when he was still in high school. In early 1993 he crossed the border and became a refugee in Jordan. Four years later he arrived in New Zealand. The death of his father when he was two years old, the fact his mother was left a young widow and his compulsory military service for the Iraqi army in the second Gulf War have had a large influence on his poetry. His poetry has been published all over the world, and has been translated into French, Spanish and English. His first poetry book in Arabic was published in Madrid in 1999 and the second one was published in Amman, Jordan, in 2002. He is a member of Union of Arab Writers and is the New Zealand co-ordinator for Joussour, an Australasian Arabic/English magazine. HeadworX will publish a book of his poems translated into English in 2004.
"HeadworX published his book Here and There, the first book of Arabic poetry to be translated into English in New Zealand, in September 2004."
Jo !
Translated from Arabic by Abbas Al Shiekh
Edited by Mark Pirie

Friends depart
Followed by dreams
Lighting deep their paths of alienation
Their intimacy is forlorn
Their roads are fading
Their strength is failing
Their wishes taken by surprise
And commit suicide …. commit suicide …. commit suicide ….

They draw spring as a patch for them
And never return
Only to find autumn chewing into the map of the country
They seek the help of the two rivers, but destruction in its full attire
Is running in an area called home

Friends depart
Sea is swallowing their moons
Airports are archiving them in the oblivion basket
Borders are exclamation marks in their lives
But they did not crook their cross
Their memories are still at the house
Courtyard rocking their childhood

Friends depart
Friends depart

Friends d e p a r t e d

Translated from the Arabic by Abdul Monem Nasser
Edited by Mark Pirie

Aotearoa, Aotearoa
My sweet refuge!
Your streets are lean like the waists of women
Flanked by dancing trees
Your gardens take me to the Hanging Gardens
Which always lie in my memory

Your rivers are unlike the Euphrates:
I see them starting to sweat
Before the glamour of the Tigris
Your mountains bring me to Assyria and to the Four Deities
They astound me and sneak into my dreams

Why did you not open your arms with joy
To the chariots of my ancestors, who taught language to the clay?
Why did you hide so far away
When the champion of Uruk went to swim in Bowen Falls?
There were no snakes to pilfer his eternal glory

Your solitude smites your beauty
And my grief pours from lips
Signalling to the crouching oceans
Tangaroa, I count my loss till the open-end
While Tane Mahuta chapters the weeping and chirping

Your clouds interlace, stealing joyfulness away
They sip tea and drink with us in cafes
And angrily protest for nothing;
The winds batter your bashful coldness
It is Tawhirimatea, ever intoxicated

Your Sun with ageless braids
Leads the morning to seduction
And your roads lean on passersby
To beg their worries

The hills that never take
Off their robes of green
Drive my longing for desert sands
That case the rivers and towns

Your shores are becoming weary
From the wailing of waves
That pound with their primitive progeny
And their womanly wanderings
Till they become satiated by the sea

The sea, with its slander,
Plays the tune of its scandals
Unaware of ships of unrest within my head

Your rains are questions of the Lord with no answers
Whenever the cold is close to our last breath
We take refuge in the kisses of our loved ones

When the hands of the clock sleep
Homelands procreate beauty
Overshadowed by Ranginui in his kindness and his moons

Your cities are replete with women and flowers
With winds that mar their silence
And on their sides beaches revolt
And trees, alarmed and baffled, look at me

I am overburdened with agonies
My homeland knocks nightly on my door
Should I open it?
I, running away impetuously
From the narcissism of wars
I, a firm believer in day break with no grudges,
As well as that shrivelling tremble before the onset of dusk

To language of light I lead the candles
Translated by Abbas El Sheikh
Edited by Mark Pirie

What dream that dries my childhood
What dream that cracks my mornings
I am the last in the caravan of solitude
My whinnying is leaning on desert whose
Mourning has flooded
And jogs under rain and the splinters of bombs
How can I let my forgetfulness
Disperse its memories in the direction of pain
And not cry: Oh homeland, get me back
My innocence
So it can be isolated from blackness

And I am touching my blood
Lonely in the parade’s square
My echo is shooting the wind
And destroying my papers
Now there are no shadows for my quietness to be upright

How can I wet my forgetfulness
With the dawn of amulets
And the Arabian jasmine’s stream of pain
The beginning was two firebrands hastening the
And whinnying at the door
Without answers
The beginning was to trim my sadness
Sagging under
The weight of my dream
And I am counting the fires of my life
My fires protrude in my memory
I have the language of shooting stars
And the lust of Archipelagos which the
Poems are unable to endure
There is no guide for my compass
Except sadness
And the dawn is packaged in testimony
To my past

I lament you, O defiance!, because your wings
Are two nooses for daylight
While the sea lets the sunset escape to identityless shore
The dusk is the geography of our blood
Myself and Baghdad …
We sit together on a shore we know
Sipping our destruction
Oh Baghdad …
Night is drying your darkness
By my light

Peace resides on the farewell handkerchiefs which
Are dried by the rain of waiting
Peace dwells in the gowns of tears which are
Our history without doubt
I alone fill the rivers with songs
And memories
And strip the waves from their hallucinations
I am proud of my destruction
And with my destruction I scrape the rust
From the clouds
Like I scrape from my childhood the
Warplanes and trenches
I have the times of myrtle and Narcissus,
While they are absorbed in their visions

I write to myself:
My mistakes
Are a coffin
Screaming behind me
A language that was lost by its own alphabet
Until it became homeless,
Nations decayed of divulgence
In the cage of wishes,
My mistakes;
I am my mistakes,
The mistakes of my father:
A mistake that is repeated,
My mother is a mistake waiting for a mistake
Due to a mistake
I am a mistake counting my steps and
Make a mistake

How can I let my forgetfulness splinter?
The datepalms are brimming and moaning
I am the Sumerian
Who is heavily armed
With dreams and questions
I tentatively
Shake nostalgia from my fingers
I freeze inside my life
I shake trying in vain to remove fear from
My pillow

I caress the sweetness of the forests
And cover the shyness of the sea
Before the flighty waves
I lead the candles to light
And mend their patience
Not caring for eternity
Without caring for their fading too
I snatch the horizons and leave

I am the paradise of myself and its doomsday
I point to basil slowly
And gradually the fields flow on my bed
The shores sprinkle their wailing near me
While sobbing flows through windows of waiting

My longing sneaks away discreetly
I feel it
I plough in daytime
And it ploughs me at night
My yearning drags the river to its desert
And its thirst to sky
And it wails before the oneness of
Its innocence
My longing is praying in the hearth of its quarrels
Carrying the firebrand in its agony

Which alley opens its shirt to a stranger?
I suspend my defeats on the walls
And make nostalgia my pillow

I am but the last in the caravan of solitude
And because I am without glories that gild my life
My dreams have left me and gone
I leave my sighs on the windows
And on the doors I leave my defeats