Poetry by Yazan al-Shakohi, Part II

Introduction by Emily Osborne:The Euphrates Chapter Leader at UC Berkeley, Josie Ygnatowiz, connected with Yazan through Jusoor's mentorship program. He is currently living in Latakia and hopes to pursue his education abroad so that he can return to Syria and better serve its people. Through our conversations over several months I have come to know him as a strong and selfless individual, in spite of the oppressive conditions in which he lives. Yazan often speaks of existing in survival mode, and yet he continues to dream big and do what he can to help others. His writing is both beautiful and haunting, giving us a powerful lens into life on the ground in Syria. You can read more of Yazan's poetry in a previous blog.

The thieves of time

Long dark road …
I saw you twice, first as a flag …
Second as a stone …
Someone behind me was running away …
"We live in a circle," he screamed.
I did not fear what I heard …
Because I was the miracle of the believer.
We will die to wake up in front of the White Church.
Nuns walking slowly like blazing light …
Guns will not be able to stand in sight …
In the night
Heaven asks the executioner …
What are you going to do with my arms?
Take them …
I still have my eyes …
I can recognize your lies …
It will come to you as the fog
Without noise, do not leave a trace,
Or clogged lock, or clutter.
They are the thieves of time.


Death is coming for those who sent their sons to the war
Death is coming for those who sold their flesh and blood to the dictator
Death is coming for those who never had support.
Death is coming for those who sold the sun, the eye of the creator.
Why did he want to move away from them?
He wanted to have peace and then
to tie the rope around the neck.
Leave this globe to find the endless break.
There, where nobody bats an eye over
There, where he was laying on a sweet yellow clover
smiling face, laying in bed
the young-man who had a dream
shot himself in the head.

Woman with bare feet

Her wide wild eyes, the sea of stars
brunette skin
fields of green upon her heart.
I'm getting older every time I see her
this is the dirty image of war.
He was as skinny as a tree trunk …
his heart was the face of a soldier
This man who's getting older …
his future has been sunk …
He was singing,
brown is the color of the tobacco fields
her hands were stronger than guns, not such as wield
a woman, and what she can reveal
chest like a battlefield …
The universe melted in her eyes like sugar in tea
reflection of passion
showed some compassion
while she was dancing.
Nations have been ruined and rebuilt
the shining sun will bring to light all she's killed.
Her wide wild eyes, the sea of stars
that's what the narrow-eyed soldier sees from afar.