Kifah has translated his poem H.O.M.E. into English from the Arabic.  In English it shows the influence of the ghazal, a Persian poetic form, which involves couplets that repeat the same word at the end of each couplet.  You can hear the influence of that pattern here as the word “home” recurs, moving from the most intimate and micro experiences to the largest possible embrace, as exile teaches the poet to see home everywhere and to develop a generous spirit. And then, of course, there’s the beauty of the script in Arabic and the beauty of his drawings.


H. O. M. E.

My mother’s womb

Her breasts, her lap

Her heart was my home

My father’s arms

His perfumed skin

Was my home

My childhood hometown

Where orchards were full

Of vines, pomegranate

Apricot, quince, fig

Date-Palm and lemon tree

Was my home

Soon I grew

An old divination predicted

My long departure

A rotten bunker in fierce war

Was my home

In a big desert

Where I was astray

I found myself without a shelter

My body was my home

A perilous journey left me

In a prison of war

Its walls were dank

I learned not to lose freedom

I defeated nightmares

My mind was a free bird

Dreams rose from ashes

I dreamt of a home

Its surroundings a garden

A size of the sky

My imagination grows

My soul is mystified

Wherever I go I find home

The wind is my home

It takes me onward

The cloud is my home

I ramble in a blue dome

My home is petals of marigold

Words of a poem are my home

Sixty-two years of travel,

Escape, prison, exile,

Migration and refuge

I found a home in the

Last station of a tortuous route

It contains: my dreams, hope

Play, and love

A home full of peace

The blue sky and the blue ocean

Meet beyond its Windows

My home is Portland



رحم أمي،

ثدياها، حضنها

قلبها كان لي وطن.

ذراعا أبي،

كتفاه الدافئتان،

جلده المعطر بالأريج

كان لي وطن.

مدينة طفولتي،

وبساتينها المليئة

بالعنب والرمان

والمشمش والسفرجل

والتين وَالنَّخْل وشجر الليمون

كانت لي وطن

حين كبرت، عرّافة

تنبأت سفري الطويل

ملجأ عفن في حرب ضروس

كان لي وطن.

في صحراء على مدِّ البصر

كنت تائها

وجدت نفسي بدون ملجأ

جسدي كان لي وطن.

في رحلة محفوفة بالمخاطر

في سجن حرب

خلف جدرانه الرطبة العفنة الصدئة

تعلَّمت أن لا أفقد لحن الحرية

دحرت وكسّرت مخالب كوابيس شرسة

خيالي كان طائرا حرا

وأحلامي أزهرت من رماد

حلمت بوطن

حدوده حديقة بعرض السماء.

يكبر خياليَ،

وروحي تتصوف

حيثما أذهب، أجد وطنا

الريح وطن

غيمة بيضاء

تتنزه في قبة زرقاء

تكون لي وطن

تويجات  قرنفلة

تكون لي وطن

كلمات قصيدة

تكون لي وطن.

اثنان وستون عاما من

الترحال والهروب والسجن

والنفي والهجرة واللجوء

وجدت وطنا

بعد رحلة عذاب،

محطة أخيرة، أمارس فيها

طقوس فرحي وأحلامي

وأملي وحبّي

وطن مليء بالسلام

خلف نوافذه

السماء والبحر يلتقيان

وطني بورتلاند.

Kifah Abdulla is a poet, artist, writer and teacher born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq. He published his first book of poetry ( Dead Still Dream ) in 2016. He is the Arabic calligraphy instructor at MECA, Arabic instructor at SMCC and Language Exchange. Kifah is involved in many cultural and artistic projects in Portland and other places in Maine: a member of Portland Public Art Committee, a member of WMPG which broadcasts his monthly show ( Words and Music ), and the founder of the International Arabic Language Festival in Portland. Kifah lives and works in Portland.

Kifah Abdullah, Looking For A Light