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Id Al-Adh´ha, Christmas, New Year 2008
Horror in Iraq ...Peace in Costa Rica

I live between the three extremes of my three Homelands:
horror in Iraq, peace in Germany and peace in Costa Rica.
Here are few photos of peace in Costa Rica I made them on December 22, 2007
during a one day visit to Jacó, a town and tourist resort on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

Women at Café Punto 4, preparing tamales, a traditional food of Christmas (maíz dough (English: corn, maize), two or three types of meat, vegetables wrapped and cooked in banana leaves.)
Lonely runner? Not exactly. Parents are nearby...I took this photo while sitting at the Italian ice-cream café.
After a short shower. December is the start of the dry season (summer) in Costa Rica.
Tourists ....I took this photo while sitting at the Italian ice-cream café.

Probably this poem "Seda negra" (Black Silk), which I wrote in Spanish for my wife Ana Mercedes in 2006, is one of my best love poems. I usually don´t reread my poems frequently. There are even poems which I don´t want to read again at all. But, if I find myself rereading a poem, then I know that poem has something special. That is the case wth this poem. I read it again recently and thought I will republish it at the opening page of my website. I will soon add an English translation below, but I have no illusions: no translation can ever match the brilliance, soft energy and precision of the original Spanish.

Seda negra

En la otra casa que es el mar,
me atrae el culto de tu mente.
Soy grito apresurado para desvanecer
en el agujero negro de tu ser.

Eres besos duros, el mediodía cayendo
polvo de agua sobre Heredia de las montañas,
calles rectas y vacías,
del silencio de palabras que nada revivan.

Denso mármol, tu amor adentro,
cuerda vibrando en universo descartado.
Eres distribuidora de seda negra:
tu celebre sonrisa y gruesos labios.

Colección: Poemas para Ana Mercedes, 2006
Poeta: Anwar Al-Ghassani
Escrito en: San José, Costa Rica
Fecha: 10 de junio de 2006
Lenguaje del original: español
Traducido del: ------ por: ------
Revisado por: -------

  Mi esposa Ana Mercedes Rodriguez Acevedo (a quien dedico este poema) en un campo en Turingia, Alemania, durante uno de nuestros viajes con motocicleta en el verano de 1978.
El poema no hace referencia directamente a este evento pero si a esta maravillosa y extraordinaria chica.

A Poem in German




Die Gaben seines glänzenden Geistes
wird er in der Morgendämmerung,
wenn die Lichter weiterhin feucht sind,
anonym an der Türschwelle
der alten Dame legen.
Sie sind der Ertrag der Worte,
die sie ihm,
Jahr nach Jahr,
im Munde legte.

Sammlung: Deutsche Gedichte, 2007
Poet: Anwar Al-Ghassani
Geschrieben in: San José, Costa Rica
Datum: 14. Juni 2007
Sprache des Originals: Deutsch
Ubersetzt aus dem:------- von:----------
Durchgesehen von: -----------

Daring Feat

At dawn, when the lights are still humid,
he will anonymously lay
the gifts of his brilliant mind
at the threshold of the old lady.
They are the yield of the words
she put in his mouth,
year after year after year.


Collection: Deutsche Gedichte (German Poems), 2007
Poet: Anwar Al-Ghassani
Written in: San José, Costa Rica
Date: June 14, 2007
Language of original version: German
Translated from: ------- by: -------------
Edited by: -----------

More Poems in German

L e t t e r    F r o m    A f a r
(Est. 1992)
No.  31  -  Sunday, October 28, 2007

Personal bulletin of Iraqi poet Anwar Al-Ghassani
News, ideas, thoughts, reflections and workshop report

(LFA is a private letter sent to friends only. If at any time, for whatever reason, you want to be removed from my mailing list, please do not hesitate to notify me. If later you want to resume receiving the letter, please notify me and I will be pleased to add you again to the list. Thank you.)
Dear friends,

With deep sadness I dedicate this issue of LFA solely to inform you of the death of my dear friend poet Sargon Boulus in Berlin on Monday, October 22, 2007.
Please read below the news release I issued on that same day.

My gratitude to all friends who have sent me their condolences.

Best regards,

Anwar Al-Ghassani

My dear Sargon, our “Assyrian Lion”, talking to Mouayed Al-Rawi and to me at our favorite Café Sociale in Berlin at 12:22 midday of Thursday, August 2, 2007. This is one frame from a short video sequence I made on that day.

Poet Sargon Boulus dies in Berlin

I have just received the sad news. My dear friend, our Iraqi poet Sargon Boulus (Al-Habbaniya, 1943 - Berlin, Oct. 22, 2007), one of the greatest poets of our times, has died today in Berlin. He was 64.

During my recent stay in Berlin in July and August, Sargon was already in a health crisis because of heart problems. He had his ups and downs, but he still managed to join us for coffee and chat.

Since my return from Germany I have been following his news through our joint friend poet Mouayed Al-Rawi in Berlin. I also talked to Sargon over the phone on two occasions.

Few weeks ago, after he was discharged from hospital following a crisis, we were almost "joking" over the phone, Sargon, Mouayed and I. Yesterday, Mouayed was telling me that they had to take him again to the hospital, and today this news of his death. Although this was not totally unexpected, but it is nevertheless shocking when it indeed happens.

It is a huge loss for us, his friends and fellow poets and writers of the Kirkuk Group, for Iraq, for Arabic and world poetry.

At these moments, I can´t write  more. I will write more later but I don´t know when.

See recent photos and a note about our recent meeting at my website:
Conduct a search on the web for: Sargon Boulus and read more about him.

Anwar Al-Ghassani                              San José, Monday, Oct. 22, 2007


  1. On Thursday, Oct. 26, a small group of friends bid farewell to Sargon in the Friedrichshain hospital in Berlin.

  2. He will be buried in San Francisco, probably on Monday, Oct. 29.

  3. He has left Berlin, the city he loved very much, and he will be buried in San Francisco, the city he didn’t love very much. But, it was the will of his family members to take him to SF.

  4. Many poets and writers have been writing about Sargon’s death, both in conventional as well as in web-based media.

  5. I do not want to write and publish just a short note about him. Yet, at present, I am unable to write anything elaborate about him either. I will write after attaining distance to this devastating disaster that has befallen us. 

  6. Two dear friends deserve my utmost gratitude and admiration: my dear friends poet Mouayed Al-Rawi and his wife writer Fakhriya Salih who were the truest friends. They were completely dedicated to Sargon during the difficult months of his illness in Berlin.

  7. I consider myself lucky that I had the opportunity to be with Sargon on most days of my recent stay in Berlin in July and August.



... In The Wonderful Summer Of My Sweet Berlin ...

Iraqi poets Anwar Al-Ghassani (l.) Mouayed Al-Rawi (r.), and Sargon Boulus (on the opposite side of the red table), at our favorite Café Sociale in Berlin. We have been friends since our teenage years in Kirkuk. The days of our recent meeting in Berlin (July-August 2007) were, as always when we meet, days of light and warmth, humor and laughter, and lively conversations, rich in intellectual substance, creative ideas, experience and knowledge. For me, it was wonderful and an honor to be with my dears Mouayed and Sargon, two warm and intelligent personalities, two great poets. With the passing of the years, the bond that emerged at physical and mythical Kirkuk has grown in strength. Our friendship has become finer, warmer, richer and more elegant, imbedded in affinity, harmony, affection, sympathy and respect. Few things in life are so joyous, beautiful, amusing, intense and serene as the days when we meet.
                                                                                                                    (Photos: S. Boulus & A. Al-Ghassani, Thursday, August 2, 2007)

Iraq - II
( Sifrul Iraq )

This is a new collection of poems about Iraq. I am writing it in
I expect to finish it around the end of March 2008
A note of caution: these are drafts at different maturity stages.
You may encounter errors and some half-baked stuff. I am still working on them.

Writing & Editing Status: started in San José, Friday, September 21, 2007, and will be completed around March 2008.(I am including few poems written on earlier dates.)
Publication Status: the collection will be published by BookSurge.com, an Amazon.com company, as book-on-demand.
Translation: no translation plans at this point in time.
Sequential Order of Poems: chronological.

Sample of poems below. More poems will be added. Come back soon to read more.

Main page of the collection


Message To Sinan Antoon

sinan nice creative stimulating text arriving on a sunny bastard gloomy hope evoking and indeed very dark morning that will be spent without remorse capturing evasive iraq while i hit my back with chains the arms sink in water and fingers send a sos message and the eye will arrive to reduce the distance accuse and cheer up agonizing souls do not wait for the song it was sucked into the wind tunnel my deities waiting for grass to green up on the other bank of the river hated green hills presenting the dead all vertically aligned puffing purple smoke their survival kits are in the sinking boat i am still mourning your birds you caught me unaware i never suspected such pain and your birds i mean the doves were those of my father who was a fan of genuine good doves dancing in the air in a sky that has gone and never ever be retrieved for it is not about food and drink it is about heavenly games we played illusions that migrated with their objects no fear more will arrive and this is to be continued i mean the new game not mechanical doves i mean real game we are setting the stage for this is the container the script and the form do not and never try to understand fully sorry it was only an innocent comment on a message thanks sinan

Anwar Al-Ghassani
San José, Thursday, April 24, 2003

What is this, your Baghdad - you ask me

(Remembering Ahlam)

In the thick of the night,
rough mechanics, death events,
were unexpected.

Emotions trickled away from stone;
there were no voyages to extreme planets,
each with its taste of matter and dust.

Crisp were the nights at that home
in “New Baghdad” of my now lost city.
In those nights, all motherly,
my hope for tomorrow’s meetings
with gentle people was ripped off.

I trampled on a desire of the now distant girl.
But what if her offspring trap me
in their ambush and put a bullet in my head;
would that be customary execution
or children, unknowingly, killing their father?

Yielding to the dizzying rotation of her empty days,
she had me abandoned in an attic -
an ancient photo in sepia.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
Jacó, Saturday, February 7, 2004

* New Baghdad: a Baghdad suburb.

A Momentary of At-Taji

Recollections On The Morning After, Our Home And Iraq included

Homely thoughts, evaporated ideas
about you being a queen in noisy workshops
where our most adorable selves grow.
You in the neighbourhood of
the hunting lodge and of the other home of thickness,
of dense comfortable colors, deign to talk.
Home, mine, ours; I write its plans
with my head bowed down by archaic grief.
Just in: you and me. Building solutions.
While in the low-intensity war in Tikrit,
after a car bomb explosion,
a not professionally looking fireman,
with a hose of small diameter,
moves dirt, black rubble of a crushed breakfast project,
with a weak jet of water.
A slice of people, I have always appreciated,
is carved out at the speed of lightning.
In the rolling rubble, deformed retinas
conserve this black and white twilight, forced on us;
here, the young past is rolling with metal, wood, pebble.
“Be helpful, son, be helpful!”, do not raise your head
unless you finish your woolen rag in warm saturated colors.
The home is ours, of the tribes;
It is only a vision, a mind´s game;
If it were of matter, I would fear its heavy bearing on earth;
Vision on nocturnal screens, at Kirkuk´s summer cinemas
bursting out of our dream´s substance,
boldly announced and related the day after,
born (I hate this word), as our souls housing in our bodies
come closer and closer to each other in flight;
They touch and get thirsty.
And as always, when I talk of you, of our home, Iraq, Kirkuk, Baghdad, Qalat Salih, Al-Imara, of bombs in Iraq,
of minds planning body slaughtering,
of flesh pieces left behind, show on the street;
always when the improbable happens:
My Mesopotamian deities arrive at the spot,
they are here now, on this dim morning,
cursing and arranging the burials;
always when I underline: death is silly, life is worthwhile;
always when I, through silent loudspeakers, paint your virtual image
(though I prefer you, real, at my reach, dusted with gold);
in such hours, I miss the deadline to add:
My home, is ours, home of the tribes, has no walls;
it is an open space, where we all eat, drink, chat and are very noisy;
half unwillingly we perform prayers, on a rotating stage,
just voices, deep-pitched, unrecognizable;
and love is then the great call:
“We shall return.
We shall return all the archaic goods of equilibrium to ourselves.”
O, I was saying:
In our home no child is left unattended to,
and if you two are to kiss each other, we will have your pixels registered, a flowing image, altering by the hour, conserved and reproduced in endless shades and batches, drawn on cardboards.
To it we will add a hand and an eye that would
monumentally reject the expanding fire waves and flames.
Here, the day after, we entertain not the ease of us,
of us being powerful lovers of light and life protectors;
but rather the secrecy of the beauty of a language,
thought to have been lost and now visibly displayed
in uncommon places: boring cars, café tables, and oh, on the road, on endless paths in your mountains and in arid land expansions, framed by Iraqi date palm trees, in the neighbourhood of your little face of fine features – painful and bitter sweet.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
San José, Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Comeback

I have been the disguised subject of myself,
will-less, too shy to declare my love
for fear of isolation,
of being restrained and confined.

I now open the channel,
to hear your cries.
Destiny has assigned me
to be your supporting hand.

O, tortured mother,
I am the absent,
your dependent boy.
Take me into your lap,
and give me your drop of acceptance.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
San José, September 24, 2007

Al-Mussal’ lah In Kirkuk 
(The Cemetery And The Plain Beyond)

This land of lively people is real,
not an icon of a land.

The tombstones are real,
their calligraphy eroded, defaced.
The letters are indecipherable,
in transition to become dust.

Nothing resists the wind forever.
Wind is water;
and water is death and rebirth.
Water has no recognition for glory.
Water is oblivion.

Only recent dead have company:
young Macha’s head and body
in two abandoned water wells.
The mother is retrieving him
in her dark room.
Observers under shade,
scan the plain from a distance
and register lazy eagles.
In a zoom in, skulls and bones of lambs
are taken in by an eye.

Wait for spring,
for showers to fall fiercely on new graves.
Yet the dead don’t refresh.
They have no event to care for.
Only for the living, death is an event
destined to be forgotten.

Water will produce its wind,
and when spring is burned out,
the wind will bring the summer sun
to bear on the innocent stone.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
San José, September 24, 2007

Crossing Diyala River At As-Sa’diya On Horseback

Coming from where doves
are hunted and devoured.
From the region of serene beasts and humans,
contented with what is given to them.
At midday, you vertically cross Diyala,
voyaging into the sky.
Your heart beats,
as you imagine lunch in the presence
of faces of bedouin women,
those from a desert garden at sunset,
saturated with aroma of liquid gold.

You enrich yourself by saying,
“This water is light,
its bleaching blue is approaching whiteness.”
Then you are enveloped by its vapor,
wetting raging flames to come
at a faraway horizon.

The horse trots on summery white stones,
the water receives its warm body.
You are looked at by your water;
water you are leaving behind.

At night, in the train compartment,
you loosen, in friendliness, the grip
of the sudden fever;
your water comes back
and reaches your forehead.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
San José, October 7, 2007

Iraq’s Poem Of Defiance

I shed numbered tears on my dead.
My plains intercept the falling darkness.

I call you back:

Obtain my space as hope.
Prepare your reminiscences
for oblivion and clemency.

Your homes have shades,
silent, fresh, illuminated
under summer’s midday gloom.

Your rich and stern features are eager to deliver
mighty inclination and feasts under trees
and water nearby swinging its fish.

Those eager eyes of female just born
would care for children and men
under my sun and days
you will wish they never end.

Feed each other in my timelessness;
remember my springs,
humid as your voluptuous nights.

Don’t hesitate to expose your chests to the hot wind.
Repair your broken selves,
expand beyond shattered panes.
Remember me in your bodies, your bless.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
San José, November 7, 2007



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