Tuesday, January 12, 2016


In the evening of tomorrow,
The sun will set on my canoe
And my eyes.
I don’t know where the waters will take me.
During the day, 
The river meanders
Its bed knows where it goes.
My eyes befriend its path
Salute its banks
Touch its foliage
And the fauna drinks in plain sight.
My eyes shake hands with its alligators
Greet its tadpoles
Beckon its birds…
In the dead of the night,
The river’s the river;
But is the river
The river?
Ahead of me
May be my day
But only maybe.
What turns and slopes?
How steep are the slopes?
Are there pills to dispel my fears?
And systems firmly in place to steer clear of swirls
Any hard shoulders?
How about tributaries, 
Currents running upstream,
And other natural safe exits?
No, no, no!
I shall not now
Go back home
I shall continue my stroll.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A stylistic analysis of Al-Mutanabbi's poem: واحر قلباه - My heart burns in English translation

Applying the principles of stylistic analysis on any piece of writing is a very powerful tool for tackling text of all kinds. There are times when we are lucky enough to have knowledge of the context in which any piece of writing was composed. In the case of the poem at hand,  واحر قلباه ممن قلبه شبم - 'My heart burns at he whose heart grows cold', it seems there is enough information about the poet, his epoch, and the circumstances that gave rise to the poem. It makes sense to use those to contextualize the whole poem, but deep scrutiny of the bricks and mortar of the text is what I have relied on, for the most part, to achieve a  provisional understanding of the poem. For the record, I have selected some 13 lines from the poem, which is otherwise much longer. I have crystallized my interpretation in the vodcast below, which I hope will serve as a stepping stone for a superior understanding. Thanks for watching. Ali H. Raddaoui.

Monday, November 4, 2013


And it’s true that some thought
He wrought to wear a human face
And actually seemed
Most decent with his military insignias on.
He speaks with that sort of passion and depth,
It seems, that gives reasoned reasons
For his reasons.
Technically speaking, how his words go down
Is of little consequence to those around
For they’re made palatable
By the very concavity of his idiom.
His inner thoughts,
And I am only privy to them
Through his rather large sun glasses
From beneath of which he probably glances
At the little folks in the hustle and bustle of their lives
Underneath the purview of his glasses,
His inner thoughts, Oh… never mind, never mind.
Here is no common man;
His mission, it turns out,
Transcends all women and men
And the little children
In whose eyes the streams run
And the birds dream of Spring
In the dead of wintertime.
For the record, his voice declares:
“Men and women of the East
Mark my words; your destinies
Rest in my hands
I am your baker, dough, salt and yeast.
A true vision I hold
You know not where I dream to take you
Nor do you need to know
I myself know not the nitty-gritty of
Where we’ll go;
I only know I’m not God Almighty
But God Almighty anointed me
And appointed me to deliver you
From the destinies
You’ve plotted against yourselves
With your own hands …
And that indelibly wrong ink
On your forefinger with which you thought
You’d rewrite the preamble of your script!
For the sake of these tender hands,
I hereby un-ink the ink
And forgive you your wrongdoing.”

Monday, October 7, 2013

As I clutched the lower reaches of an elm tree

As I clutched the lower
Reaches of an elm tree
This October eve
Recalling for a wink
The olive-green
Dreams of the springs
Of the kid in me
I looked askance
At the sickly leaves
And through the breeze
They whispered back to me:
“Do you chance to know
Where we’ve erred
To deserve to wither
And lose our vigor
And go so early!”

Ali H. Raddaoui

Friday, March 8, 2013

Time Pegs from the Coconut Kingdom

At times
When the time canvas
On which I sketch the times
Is torn between
The time at which I planted
The first coconut tree
And the next one
That should have been planted…
And hangs loose,
Then I scatter seeds
From past crops
Of the coconut tree
And spray them
With syllabary stored
From the time of first planting.
Then the canvas gets tight
And steady
And resists the wear and tear
Of fading

Monday, January 2, 2012


أيتها الهوجاء عودي
تراجعي، ارتدي
كُفّي، انكفئي
تقهقري من حيث جئت
من غياهب الظلمة
اجمدي، تجمدي، أيبسي، تيبسي، تحنطي
وضعنا دون خروجك
سياجا وسياجا وسياجا...
لا تحلل، لا تضمر، لا تجهر، ولا تهمس
أيتها الهوجاء استسلمي، نامي
توسدي أضغاث أحلامك
الضمير الغائب مستتر، متستر
جلده ما عاد يعرف القيظ ولا الزمهرير
تكلست عيناه في الظلمة
نسي الألوان كلها
نسيت أذناه صدى الأصوات
أيتها الهوجاء انبطحي
انتحري، اندحري
نسي التاريخ قلمه
جهاز الرصد وقع في قاع المحيطات
دون قوقعة
أنكرت وكالات الأنباء وجوده، سقوطه، موته
أيتها الهوجاء أدركك الليل
اجتثي غدد الدمع من عينيك
تدثري بكساء سميك من التراب
امسحي ذاكرة النور لديك
توسدي تاريخك السرمدي
إلى حيث انتهى
أنت العاصفة