Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

In the Hands the Moon and Other Poems— Younis Tawfik

Feb 6, 2024 | Poetry | 0 comments



In the Hands the Moon
I take the sunlight
and a handful of grass 
              and some water
I give shape to your face
I contemplate it for a long time
And I pass it in my body
                        between the arteries…
Your foreign face
                      is always sad.
Your lonely face
                    is far away, not seeing me.
Your face – the moon –
                in my memory shatters….
I see you                     far away
A rose clothed in the morning
                                   a flame of nostalgia.
Foreign moon
                                        you stretch out in the bosom of the clouds…
I do not know                     the color of reproach
I do not understand          the syllables of tears
Swift as the mirage
across the desert of time…
Night                            has the smell of ashes.
Memories                    have the shape of fire:
The sky is far away.
            Like chasm in the sea
                              It swallows the moon…
3- Past
The moon from my eyes                          removes the last veil.
        In my hands the moon                     performs the rite of extinction.
                            It was . . .
4- Silence
No one knows,
Your eyes have                      the voice of the sea,
                                                 the color of the waves.
There is no wind in the desert
that restores the sand to the dunes of your bosom.
There is no shadow of trees
That returns the birds to your hands.
No one knows,
your lips are                            the loneliness of winter,
                                                   the taste of snow. 
There is no fire in the naked body
that returns to the mirror of memory
a moon veiled
                              by the silence of the galaxy…
No one knows.
27 August, 1999
* Excerpted from “Nelle mani la luna”  poesie, Ananke, 2001

The Emigrant 
A man wanders within himself,
Wanders in the squalor of the streets.
A man bewildered,
a man present a man absent,
carries the pain in his heart like a burning volcano
and on his eyelids he bears nostalgia.
An absent man,
a present man,
sheds his patience,
draws it out on the night streets and there he falls asleep.
Long is the impossible dream,
and far is the awaited homeland.
City of fog and fear.
That man was a dream.
Hunger is deep wound
and bleeding that rends itself the vision,
and in the scream of death.
That was the village of his longing,
where moons flower into images
and women transform into flickers of love and pain.
The nights of that village become the ardor of longing,
become the scent of the beloved for the emigrant.
And if his heart is fire,
that of the town is stone and ice.
A man outside that wall stands alone,
watching the star of his exile and his memories:
horses of clouds.
Perhaps he has a daughter, or a child with sand-colored skin.
Near that mirage, he tends the prayer of return, to wait, in sorrow and silence, for the birds of
A man, on that sidewalk, beside that convoy,
wanders searching for the sunlight and his yearned-for homeland.
A man, among us, goes searching for love,
his identity, his memory.
*Excerpted from the novel La sponda oltre l’inferno [The Shore Beyond Hell] Oligo, 2021 p.

The Silence of Nothingness
In the deafening silence of nothingness
I listen to the voice of the sea,
in agitation,
and I weep
a love so distant.
In a dense night,
slowly exhales
the scent of death,
among the roses of the sky
Your face calls to me
beyond the waves
and shatters.
The light of life
in the cave of the mind,
goes out.
In vain.
* Excerpted from “Nelle mani la luna”  poesie, Ananke, 2001

Also, read “YOUNG BEASTS AT PLAY” by DAVIDE LONGO published in The Antonym:

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Younis Tawfik

Younis Tawfik was born in Mosul, Iraq in 1957. He is a journalist, writer, and poet. In 1978 he won the National Prize for poetry in Iraq. His debut novel, La straniera [The Stranger] he won numerous awards including the Grinzane Cavour award, the Premio Giovanni Comisso, the Premio Internazionale Ostia mare di Roma, the Premio Rhegium Julii, the Premio Fenice-Europa and the Premio Via Po. The novel was made into a film by the same title and directed by Marco Turco.

Marie Orton

Marie Orton

Marie Orton (Ph.D. University of Chicago), is Professor of Italian at Brigham Young University in Utah, USA. Her teaching, research, and publications focus on issues of migration and cultural shift in Italy. She has recently collaborated on the volume, Contemporary Italian Diversity in Critical and Fictional Narratives with Graziella Parati and Ron Kubati (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2021), and special volume of Italian Studies in Southern Africa (Vol. 35: 1, 2022) with Simone Brioni, Graziella Parati, and Gaoheng Zhang.

Her translated volumes include Italian Jewish Women in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries by Monica Miniati (Palgrave, 2022), Home (Farleigh Dickinson Press, 2022) and EmbarRACEments: Daily Embarrassments in Black and White . . . and Color (Bordighera Press, 2019) by Kossi Komla-Ebri, and Non-Persons: The Exclusion of Migrants in a Global Society by Alessandro Dal Lago (IPOC Site Press, 2008).



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