XXXIX from The Arab Apocalypse

By Etel Adnan b. 1925 Etel Adnan
When the living rot on the bodies of the dead
When the combatants’ teeth become knives
When words lose their meaning and become arsenic
When the aggressors’ nails become claws
When old friends hurry to join the carnage
When the victors’ eyes become live shells
When clergymen pick up the hammer and crucify
When officials open the door to the enemy
When the mountain peoples’ feet weigh like elephants
When roses grow only in cemeteries
When they eat the Palestinian’s liver before he’s even dead
When the sun itself has no other purpose than being a shroud

the human tide moves on . . .

Etel Adnan, “XXXIX” from The Arab Apocalypse. Copyright © 1989 by Etel Adnan.  Reprinted by permission of Post-Apollo Press.

Source: The Arab Apocalypse (The Post-Apollo Press, 1989)

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Poet Etel Adnan b. 1925

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Poet, essayist, and painter Etel Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon. The daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, she spoke both Greek and Arabic with her parents, but French became her primary language upon enrolling in a French Lebanese Catholic school at the age of five. While working for the French Information Bureau, she attended at the Ecole Supérieure de Lettres de Beyrouth, where she composed her . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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