The Howl and other works by Khaled Hegazzi

Khaled Hegazzi is the co-editor of Meena, a bilingual Arabic/English literary journal. Originally from Egypt, where he was a journalist for the national newspaper Al-Ahram, he is the author of Deer Do Not Dance in March, a bilingual poetry book, as well as several books of essays, film reviews and children's stories in Arabic. His articles and poems have been published in literary journals such as Callaloo, Bitter Oleander and YAWP: a Journal of Poetry & Art in the United States , as well as in Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain. His translations with poet and co-editor Andy Young were recently published in the Norton Anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond. He is the proprietor of the Pharaoh's Cave, an Egyptian import store in New Orleans' French Quarter.

These works are translated from the Arabic by the author with Andy Young.


I'm sorry I can't see you tonight
or the night that follows
because my heart is up in the palm tree
branch, covered with dust and smoke.
I can't see you tonight
because the streets of Baghdad
are silent and a curfew begins
when my love starts.
I can't see you tonight because
I am going nowhere.
I will have time to stare at my
mirror and imagine myself
as a Messiah wiping the tears of
children and tapping on the shoulders
of soldiers, replacing
roses in their gun barrels
as I watch the rain sprinkling
washing the trees off
and I make room for our hands
to meet.



He always tells himself that
he loves her very much.
He realized that when he found out
that he could forgive
everything she does.
And there's a cave she prepared
thousands of years ago.

He wasn't worried
about entering the cave
and he knows
that what kills him right now
is standing at the door lonely at night
waiting for her to come back,
knowing that she's chasing a moon out
there, counting little stars,
giving them special, secret names,
gathering white flowers,
consuming half
and keeping a great share for him.

That valley has roads full of pits.
He knows about that stinky,
painful tail in his back
preventing him from getting down to her.
And that's why he'll keep sending her this
howl every night.
And that's all he's got….hoping not to scare her.



in the evening I hung a rope
in the middle of the ceiling
           and its noose was round

I felt my neck
           and it was round

I returned Fairouz's CD to its case
           and it was round

I lit a lonely candle facing the window
and with an angel's footsteps
I danced naked in a circle of warmth
           the circle was round

I took down your picture and kissed it
my lips were round

the chill of the glass made me rush
to close the window
      my window was round
and looked over nothing

I closed my eyes
           my eyes were round

I dreamt of you lying next to me
in the hospital giving me a pill
           and the pill was round

your finger caressing my hair had a ring
           the ring was round

you never read what I wrote to you
           maybe your warmth will
           lead us to the labyrinth

maybe the labyrinth is in heaven
           heaven is round

you never understood when I said to you
that I'm afraid when my shadow walks
in front me and I'm afraid of your road
when it is filled with emptiness
do not make me wait for the merciful bullet
           the bullet is round