Not on my knees with head all bound in thorns,
not in a pew prostrate before a god,
not stooped, nor bent, a sinner supplicant,
a poor unworthy man afraid to say:
Like as the eagle soars astride the wind,
like as the river flows from spring to sea,
like as erratic stands upright and firm,
a worthy creature proud to stride the land.
No more a child beset with guilt and shame,
but grown attentive to the joy of light,
humble as dust and underwhelmed by night,
a star that shines and whispers love to all.
We move in prayer, our talent in our verse,
we celebrate in time the universe.
Born in Aleppo
I come from a small place in between Paris, Nice, and the Hinterland.
I was born in Aleppo.
I had friends there.
Some had shoes,
I don’t know what most survived on.
I was talking to Charlie Hebdo.
He said ‘you’ll have to laugh your way through all the hail,
you’ll die many times before Aleppo.’
I believed that line.
There was always a cat,
ready to pounce
with a hungry mouth.
Cats are drones.
One of the girls lost her mother to a cat.
We were all born in Aleppo.
It’s as if we came from Africa
drawn to die
on the bank of the River of Martyrs
before the smiles reached us.