A Hymn To Old Times

In old time,
Before the sun stopped circling around us;
Before it started to work as a painter of our shadows and the shadow of time over place;
Before it adopted the hobby to boil sand inside a vessel we’ve called a desert;
Before yellow gold had hatched into black gold, at the uppermost circle of Hell;
Before the moon retired from its job as a lamp for illuminating muddy windows, before it quitted working as a clergy servant on the feet of fertility gods deeply planted in barns and fields, and before it stopped working as a stick for dawn heralds;
Before the earth became spherical
Before rain became a dark spot on screens;
Thus, in old time;
Before sky’s back arched down;
I had a heart broad enough for all lands
And used to travel alone to the end of earth.

I used to carry in my open hand my mother’s bosom and the cross-lock of my father eyebrows’, to plant into my forehead the almond tree reclining on my small window, to put into my mouth the rooster’s cry and the “come on” calls from the roof-callers, to carry on my shoulders the hut of the vineyard’s keeper and the northern mountain, and to travel to the end of earth.

It so happened that, in my journey before the last one, a message has dropped from a poor hut near a pyramid we called “Khufu”.
Inside the letter I found out a remnant of a tear shed on a moon, which had fallen down into a well and eaten by the wolf, and found the tale of Beta, Delta and Gamma’s conspiracy against Alfa, and the fall of the chief chimpanzee in a trap, besides a prophesy foretelling that midiocrity will defeat supremacy at mid-times.

All this took place before sea weeds became trees;
Before trees turned to be ventilators of polluted air;
Before clouds abandoned their pride and sneaked through windows to work with full job as beaters of short dogs’ droppings, as dusters of white dust and of industries’ smoke on Manhattan’s peak;
Before ringdoves stepped down from the horsebacks of lightening, quitting the jobs of post messengers in order to work as brooms of medals and faces of precautionary wars champions;
Before the faces of bananas in Harlem, Mogadishu and Makonde were carbonized, leading to the failure of Martin Luther King’s and Pablo Neruda’s sons to pass exams accepting them to honorable life.
At that time, in old times, I had a heart as vast as the contradictions of Zeno from Elea, in the shape of John Wallis’s eight turned down on its head.
I used to travel alone,
And come back alone, from the farthest ends of earth.

I used to fill up my back-bag with three mountains, so I could build a fireplace to stew coffee over the soil of beginning’ under the infinity of Christ’s-thorn tree, to put in my pocket a bed of sage and a pound of round lentils, to fill my skin by a smile of my neighbor’s daughter guarded by two dimples, to borrow a small waterfall from my friend the Spring, and I used to wrap wild berry necklaces and a stream of the valley around my neck,
Then travel alone,
And come back alone to the beginning of earth.
All this took place, before mud had put on glowing glasses and a hat;
Before hybrid dogs had been trained to catch dynamite fingers, smell of heroin, lead powder and Eastern faces;
Before John Stuart Mill had canned liberties to be given out by his grandchildren as mills of money and hothouses of missiles;
Before the good soldier Švejk had been dispatched from his military service;
At that time, my heart had room enough to take ten liters of warm blood and an ocean of mineral water,
And I used to travel alone,
And come back from the end of the big sea to my first shore.

I’d met, in my way, a woman writing a letter and sending it away on the back of a mule, just before the mule became a lusty horse and a manager of business. She was looking for a small broken skull beneath the wall of the temple. She said: the temple fell down on my son’s head, so it cracked.

At that time, at the very old,
Before speech turned to be masks of chameleon skin;
Before letters had been arranged on yellow sheets to be called newspapers concealing facts and decorating abscesses;
Before rats had put on over-weight at the city’s cesspools;
Before distances had shrunk into the mouth of a cowboy’s pistol at a global bar;
Before black widows had assembled at Wall Street alley;
My heart was broader than an eagle’s flight over a lost land,
And I used to travel alone,
And come back alone from the end of earth.

At the last pilgrim, the woman with a wooden ring dangled from her nose said: we are just a gouged eye and a stand to test the accuracy of rockets, my son. Here my face is decomposed today and taken by cold beaks of birds made of hardened carbon. Here is Prometheus’s liver burnt over the fire he’d stolen,
And here old time had distanced away, my dismembered body is still dispersed in the beaks of birds migrating beyond the boundaries of ancient Egypt, Babylon, Carthage and Amazonas, while Osiris began to work as a clerk at the border near Suph sea, her hands are overcrowded by oblivion and her salary is not enough for love and travel.

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Fareed K. Ghanem

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I am 58 years old, from eastern Galilee, Israel (Palestine). I studied English literature, psychology and Law at the Hebrew university (Jerusalem). In the last three years, I published three books of which is dedicated to prose poetry. You are invited to visit the Facebook page Shadows of Water, where I publish my prose poems I translate to English.
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