Mohammad Ikbal Harb



Mohammad Ikbal Harb is a Lebanese poet, novelist, and short story writer born in 1954. He holds a bachelor’s degree in health care management from the University of Atlanta. He has published four books: The truth, a novel (2010), The Death of a poetess, short stories (2012), The Lover of Amnesia, poetry (2013), and Here Lies the Seducer, a novel (2014). Many of his short stories were published in the Moroccan newspaper, Al-Qissa (The Story). Mohammad writes a weekly column in Al-Watan Al-Arabi newspaper. He has participated in numerous literary conferences, forums and interviews in Lebanon and other countries. He is a member of numerous cultural, literary, and social organizations.

Mohammad Ikbal Harb’s poems are translated from the original Arabic into English by poet and translator Nizar Sartawi.


The Director

The director yells
I do not want life
My play is to make death
He yells again:
No condolences while filming
No crying while filming

Slay them… spill their blood
Set fires, tear them into pieces
Killing in Gaza
Is the holiest of prayers
The screams of their children
Are a splendid effect

Roar… thunder… and… whizzing
Fire holes, ruins and blood
He takes a photo…
He hates failure
He repeats the scene adorned with torn flesh

No condolences… no crying
He took photos and documented
The splendor of demolition
He won a victory against life
The world applauded
And awarded him the order of shame

Deep Down

Deep down within me
Within my humanity
In my remembrance, in my amnesia

I am enveloped in a fear of humiliation
Enveloped in human injustice
Enveloped in a fear of assassination
Of a time that rejoices in my sorrows

Deep down within me
Within my humanity
In my remembrance, in my amnesia

I’m afraid a savage invader
Would shake my land, my existence
I’m afraid a tyrannical ruler
Would embrace my brothers’ assassin

Deep down within me
Within my humanity
In my remembrance, in my amnesia

I’m hopeful that my humanity
Would flee to the mid-sea
But I’m afraid it would be slain
By a pirate in mid-sea.


In the funeral of the nation we march
No cheering or calling “Allah is great”

In the funeral of morals
We dance
In the funeral of Honor
We enjoy marching

This is the funeral of loyalty
That’s the funeral of the conscience
The funeral of the homeland
No cheering or calling “Allah is great”

Funerals are crowding each other out
We have no more land for burials
No remains
No grief
No groans

Speeches and a memorial service
For a homeland that has decayed
And has been crowned with death
With a citizen who’s gone

And we go to temples
To perform the Absentee funeral prayer

Dumbfounded Faces

Dumbfounded faces
Stagnant souls
Wandering, lost
With empty hearts
Overcome with sleepiness
They lie on a mat of humiliation
In the reign of a tyrant
Who tears their robe
And ravishes them
They are hunted by a vile woman
Who throws them in a cask
At the scoundrels’ tavern
And spits evil in it
That she squeezes as a wine of wrath
In the devils’ pollen
Offered by naked souls
Accompanied by the rhythm of illusion
We sip it cheerily and foolishly
At the edge of the universe
Along with the rituals of slavery
We make a fire
With the firewood of dignity
We sprinkle the incense of cowardice
We fall in love with the fire
We feed it with our remains
The drums beat
We thrive with humiliation

Swinging with dignity
And the devil sings
The medley of denial
And we sink in the dunes
Hope runs
And lights up a torch
We’re dazzled by the light
We flare up at her brazenness
We take her captive
The devil binds her
And we throw her in a well
No convoy passes
We deny her even a camel rope
We bury her and leave

With the convoy we walk as captives
Led by the wolves of humiliation
To the dunes of loss
We bury our heads in the dark
And wonder: who assassinated Hope?

The Birth of a Poet

In the corner of emptiness
At the altar of the universe
Giving blazed up with light
Spreading its incense
On the hearth of eternity
The sacrifice was blessed
With laurel and basil

The place glowed
With eternal wisdom
With the colors of the universe
And the holiness of serenity
Wisdom stepped generous as a gift
On the body of a human being
Moving his spirit until
His heart throbbed
The temple chanted
Time went into labor
And words were born
It was not magic
On the path
For humans to lay prostrate
And for prayers to be held
It was the torch of existence
Speaking of an entity
That shimmered brightly
Like lightning in the east
Like lightning in the west
Lighting all over the skies
With hope and expectation
That took a man
To the forest of existence
Heaven sent rains
Of wisdom and giving
The heart greened
The tongue uttered poetry
The echo quivered
The temple blazed
And a poet was born



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