Fady Joudah was a finalist for the 2008 Poetry in Translation Award for The Butterfly’s Burden, a collection of three recent books by Mahmoud Darwish.


Proof of Kindness

Taxi driver drives through Main his plates are legitimate
A father and son in the shadow of snipers

To pray surrounded by guards to pray to the guards or
To the invisible god in the guards or the one surrounding the guards

Among the rubble I send them
Caterpillars that eat their mothers and taxed pronouns

Does your house have a gardener, how long around the wall?
Our age is a checkpoint

We grieve like palm trees by the river
Dance like palm trees by the river
We reach the pigeon coop check on the pigeons the pigeons fly

We find a stray puppy, son calls to the puppy in his enemy’s tongue
Taxi exits Broadway

Son poses like a kid in the shadow of snipers


He diagrams alleys and where houses stood
Two kilometers from the sea

He is two
One who walks his pencil

Where his feet once walked and one
In the archives of state

There’ll be no repatriation

Only the ghost of place or a shrine
Of a holy man who may or may not

Have passed through the place
As wheat or orange groves . . .

Or one with his donkey and one
Who holds his cigarette in the web

Of the third and fourth fingers

(And for a while this became the fashion
Of the young smokers in the camp)

To pass
The old man must first kiss his donkey’s rump

A show of love to what you love
And he made him sing