untitled, Ahmed Fouad Negm



The following excerpt was taken from an untitled poem, written by Ahmed Fouad Negm in 1968, in a col­lec­tion of poems entitled I’Yun Al-Kalaam (Eyes of the Word), and was printed in Middle East Report, February, 1978.

The drones dwell in Zamalek*
To describe their life
You would say–
Life in our quarters is not so.
You can see them
When a shiplike car
Cruises by.
Their asses are made of dough
Their bellies are fat
Their skin shines
Their brains are thick
Their teeth are chisels
They cut through the ice
Whether hot or cold
They eat steel.
As long as the river flows
From the Said
Their incomes inflate,
Their bellies inflate

The poor dwell
In the slums.
Their day is a cloud,
Their night is tears.
Feeble arms,
But with some strength,
That turn the dry land to green.
The machine made in Cairo
Its operator doesn’t tire.
He can’t eat, he can’t even starve.
You, the poor of our country?
The peasant, the worker,
The lubricant of the water wheel,
The coal of the factories,
The producer, the makers of well-being,
The sweetest,
The wise, the content–
Don ‘t tire your minds with politics.
Mind your business.
In earnest­ness and enthu­si­asm
Teach your kids
The virtue of con­tent­ment
Because, of course, we are
The slaves of fate.
Your bread, my bread, and the bread of dogs
Is a matter to be postponed till the day of judgment.

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