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"A Poet Whose Political Incorrectness Is a Crime"

by  seanfarragher

Posted: Sunday, May 14, 2006
Word Count: 408
Summary: -- Ahmed Fouad Negm, Egyptian Poet 5/13/06

"A Poet Whose Political Incorrectness Is a Crime"

"Egypt is a candle submerged by the river," Ahmed Fouad Negm said,
when asked if Egypt still holds its role as the center of Arab thought
and culture, and if not, why. "When the earth is dark, Egypt comes
out of the river and lights the world." -- Ahmed Fouad Negm
Egyptian Poet, New York Times, Saturday 5/13/06

"Glory for the crazy people/In this stupid world." The words were
carefully painted in yellow on the wall, right beside the tortoise.
They were his words, the words of a poet, a harsh critic of power,
who spent 18 of his 76 years in prison largely because Egypt's
leaders tended to despise his words. --- MICHAEL SLACKMAN, New York Times

Poet to Poet:

The Nile calls itself tortoise. I am not buried
in the sand. I kiss the head of the dead tortoise
and carry it through my lands. The river lived beyond
us where many secrets were masked by Aswan Dam.

Hypocrisy had no answer.
Do not talk on the telephone.
You might be "picked up" for loitering.
Do not curse cartoon balloon.
It may save your ass.


Everyone knows where I live. They show you
Mokkatam with the wave of an arm or the shift of eye.
"Were you once blind," they ask? "Did shadows
catch the steps of your lost feet? You must know
the way." Do not hide Negm's counsel. "Life was a merry
prison with five by five walls and no pen to write."


My time had its own arrival and end. I piss
on palm fronds that never believed honor had
no thieves, but they stole my words, so I said hush,
sweet dangerous God. Pharaoh Hosni Mubarak
said "cut his testicles off, I'll make him worthwhile."

4. Lailat-ul-Bara'h (Night of Forgiveness)

What is the danger, you ask? Terror is our enemy.
What if they keep one trillion-trillion phone calls
in a sacred box? We shake them. We bake them.
We eat them after Ramadan with New Year's libation.
Rub the belly of the Pharaoh's telephone genie. He will spit
your words back. Everybody sing: "we are the enemies
of the state -- true terrorists of the heart. Never forget it!"
Locked inside the broken tick tock, your keys
to the kingdom for obedience to Pharaoh.
We rise from the dead after Hegira.
Nothing we do after, will be remotely a shock.

End 5-13-06