Wednesday, July 05, 2006

poem for america, july 4

from Saadi Youssef: America,America
translated by Khaled Mattawa

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
But I am not American.
Is that enough for the Phantom pilot to turn me back to the
Stone Age?
I need neither oil nor America herself, neither the elephant
nor the donkey.
Leave me, pilot, leave my house roofed with palm fronds and
this wooden bridge.
I need neither your golden gate nor your skyscrapers.
I need the village, not New York.
Why did you come to me from your Nevada desert, soldier
armed to the teeth?
Why did you come all the way to distant Basra, where fish
used to swim by our doorsteps?
I only have these water buffaloes lazily chewing on water
Leave me alone, soldier.
Leave me my floating cane hut and my fishing spear.
Leave me my migrating birds and the green plumes.
Take your roaring iron birds and your Tomahawk missles, I
am not your foe.
I am the one who wades up to the knees in rice paddies.
Leave me to my curse.
I do not need your day of doom.


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