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I am not from this city

though I walk up the mountain

each morning with its children

to raise our voices in song

We return slowly and happily

our voices tired,

scared that our mothers

will never believe

we poured out our songs

at God's door



I am not from this city

but I am like those who escaped

carrying a bucket of water

and an old ax

to dig in the soft dirt of death



I am not from this city

but I move over it

like a passing moon

or a mourner following a bullet

in search of its resting place—

perhaps it will be in the heart of a man

not from this city...




I am not from this city

but whenever I feel thirsty,

I dig into its soil

to plant an olive

for the water waiting to arrive

in a wandering creek



The river is our mark

This is how cities know us:

We are part of her family



Yes, I'm not from this city

as passers-by

will acknowledge

They say

I know the way to their ovens

before I get hungry

My children tell their friends, too

and my wife, to her grief

And my friends who bring me

home each night

whisper to the driver,

“He is not from this city!”

Abboud Aljabiri is a poet and translator from Iraq. A former columnist for the Azzaman and Alarab newspapers in London, he has had seven poetry collections published in Arabic, and his poems have been translated into languages including English, Persian, Spanish and Turkish. One of his poems, 'Fading', was set to music by the British composer Joanna Marsh and sung by groups including the BBC Singers, and he has also been featured in the Poetry Translation Centre, based in London.