Σάββατο, 29 Απριλίου 2006

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America, America by Saadi Youssef
I too love jeans and jazz and Treasure Island and John Silver's parrot and the balconies of New Orleans.

I love Mark Twain and the Mississippi steamboats and Abraham Lincoln's dogs.
I love the fields of wheat and corn and the smell of Virginia tobacco.
But I am not American.
Is that enough for the Phantom pilot to turn me back to the stone age? . . .

America: let's exchange gifts.
Take your smuggled cigarettes and give us potatoes.
Take James Bond's golden pistol and give us Marilyn Monroe's giggle.
Take the heroin syringe under the tree and give us vaccines.
Take your blueprints for model penitentiaries and give us village homes.
Take the books of your missionaries and give us paper for poems to defame you.
Take what you do not have and give us what we have.
Take the stripes of your flag and give us the stars.
Take the Afghani Mujahideen beard and give us Walt Whitman's beard filled with butterflies.
Take Saddam Hussein and give us Abraham Lincoln or give us no one...
We are not hostages, America and your soldiers are not God's soldiers...
We are the poor ones, ours is the earth of the drowned gods, the gods of bulls the gods of fires the gods of sorrows that intertwine clay and blood in a song...
We are the poor, ours is the god of the poor who emerges out of farmers' ribs hungry and bright, and raises heads up high...
America, we are the dead.

Let your soldiers come.
Whoever kills a man, let him resurrect him.
We are the drowned ones, dear lady. We are the drowned. Let the water come.
[translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa]

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