The Iraqi poet Ahmad Matar’s most recent poem has been making the email rounds. It is written in Obama’s voice addressing the Arabs (bio note: Matar was a good friend of Naji al-Ali’s and has been living in London since the late 80’s).

To summarize the poem, the Arabs look to Obama to adopt them, asking him for the impossible (“find us a bowl for the bath” and “tailor pajamas for the ant”). His reply is: I am not of you nor are you of me (“I have not chosen Islam” and “I have not chosen to herd sheep”), I have been chosen by a people who refuse to be ruled by force and by a system that respects its people. So, get off, I don’t have the time (“I have more work than your majesty has time to rule”) and go find someone else to adopt you. And if you should ever hear my tune, it will be in the form of explosions.

Maybe it is a response to the Obama t-shirts selling in Damascus. Anyway, enjoy:

Addendum: Given this post’s popularity and the poem’s wide circulation over the Internet, I am providing a quick English translation.

From Obama by Ahmad Matar

From Obama…
To all Arab peoples and rulers:
Your pot banging at my door
Has exhausted me and driven me mad…
“Do this, o Obama…
Leave this, o Obama
Rain upon us cold and peace
O Obama.
Save a belt for the naked!
O Obama.
Find a bowl for the bath!
O Obama.
Tailor pajamas for the ant!
O Obama…”
A clanging that chews on dreams
And its echo vomits illusions
No sooner does the voracity of the noise
Begin to subside than it begins to grow again.
And I am a man with lots to do
More than the time you have for idleness
Longer than the reign of your majesty
So, let me begin by warning you
In order to have my excuse at the end:
I do not serve her who gave birth to you
To be whipped back and forth.
I am not your brother to be defamed
If I do not bring siblings together.
I am not your father to be implored
To be a guardian for you.
Your Arabism has not chosen me
Neither have I chosen Islam!
So, let someone else adopt you
Or remain forever orphans!
I am the proverb of a people
Who refuses to be ruled by force…
Of a system that respects the people.
And it is to them and to no one else
That my heart will flow in sweet melody
Even should my songs descend
Upon your ears… in explosions!
So take heed… As regimes and peoples
And take my example as inspiration.
But if you wish to remain
Like cattle in this world
Begging for security and food
Let me be honest with you… I am a man
Who through all the stages of his life
Not once has counted on
One day herding sheep!

أحمد مطر: من أوباما

مِن أوباما..
لِجَميعِ الأعرابِ شُعوباً أو حُكّاما:
قَرْعُ طَناجِرِكُمْ في بابي
أرهَقَني وَأطارَ صَوابي..
(افعَل هذا يا أوباما..
اترُك هذا يا أوباما
أمطِرْنا بَرْداً وسَلاما
يا أوباما.
وَفِّرْ للِعُريانِ حِزاما!
يا أوباما.
خَصِّصْ للِطّاسَةِ حَمّاما!
يا أوباما.
فَصِّلْ للِنَملَةِ بيجاما !
يا أوباما..)
قَرقَعَة تَعلِكُ أحلاماً
وَتَقيء صَداها أوهَامَا
وَسُعارُ الضَّجّةِ مِن حَوْلي
لا يَخبو حتّى يتنامى.
وَأنا رَجْلُ عِندي شُغْلٌ
أكثَرُ مِن وَقتِ بَطالَتكُمْ
أطوَلُ مِن حُكْمِ جَلالَتِكُمْ
فَدَعوني أُنذركُمْ بَدءاً
كَي أحظى بالعُذْر ختاما:
لَستُ بِخادمِ مَن خَلَّفَكُمْ
لأُسِاطَ قُعوداً وَقياما.
لَستُ أخاكُمْ حَتّى أُهْجى
إن أنَا لَمْ أصِلِ الأرحاما.
لَستُ أباكُمْ حَتّى أُرجى
لأكِونَ عَلَيْكُمْ قَوّاما.
وَعُروبَتُكُمْ لَمْ تَختَرْني
وَأنا ما اختَرتُ الإسلاما!
فَدَعوا غَيري يَتَبَنّاكُمْ
أو ظَلُّوا أبَداً أيتاما!
أنَا أُمثولَةُ شَعْبٍ يأبى
أن يَحكُمَهُ أحَدّ غَصبْا..
و نِظامٍ يَحتَرِمُ الشَّعبا.
وَأنا لَهُما لا غَيرِهِما
سأُقَطِّرُ قَلبي أنغاما
حَتّى لَو نَزَلَتْ أنغامي
فَوقَ مَسامِعِكُمْ.. ألغاما!
امتَثِلوا.. نُظُماً وَشُعوباً
وَاتَّخِذوا مَثَلي إلهاما.
أمّا إن شِئتُمْ أن تَبقوا
في هذي الدُّنيا أنعاما
تَتَسوَّلُ أمْنَاً وَطَعاما
فَأُصارِحُكُمْ.. أنّي رَجُلُ
في كُلِّ مَحَطّاتِ حَياتي
لَمْ أُدخِلْ ضِمْنَ حِساباتي
أن أرعى، يوماً، أغناما!