La poésie

‘Francophone’: the state of being a French-speaker without necessarily being French.

Writing in your second language is harder because the expressions make the journey from heart to mind (and from feelings to words) less organically. You have to push a bit and rummage about. It can also be more fun, because you’re less limited by painful awareness of the social and linguistic nuances of what you’re saying. You put less pressure on yourself to get it right because it’s a bit of a shot in the dark anyway. Result? More freedom.

At the recent International Day for Francophonie, there was an open mic in Barcelona. We did some poems.

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Here is me.


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Here is a poem of mine, with translation below.


Une chanson sourde
Pour les syriens,
dont le monde
ne se souvient
que lorsqu’ils sont
a la une.
Écoutez les larmes qui coulent dans nos ventres
On les digère si doucement
par peur que ça s’entende
Par peur que tout s’effondre
Mais nos cœurs ne chantent qu’une chanson sourde
Ne croit-on plus aux mélodies:
Ne sait-on plus qu’elles dissolvent les armes?
Moi, j’en ai marre de ce silence fatale
Qui consume mon énergie et mon être
Et nos enfants? Si on se tait,
On va les noyer la-dedans!
Vaut mieux qu’ils les entendent,
Nos cris et nos gémissements
Ils trouveront la fraîcheur dans la douche
De nos lamentations
Si cette cage possède encore sa batterie
Dans la nuit, la meme que celle de ceux qui souffrent,
On accueillera l’aria de la lune
Et les clochettes des étoiles, et la sonnerie du ciel
Ne cessons-pas de battre le tempo du chagrin
Pour que ceux qui viennent de nos ventres
Aient le coeur fait de musique
Et salés par nos larmes
Unheard Song
For Syrians,
Whom the world
Only remembers
When they are
To the tears that flow through our bellies!
We digest them so gently
For fear of hearing.
For fear that everything might collapse.
Our hearts sing an unheard song.
Do we no longer believe in melodies
Or know that they dissolve weapons?

I’m sick of this fatal silence
That consumes my energy and my wellbeing.
What of our children? Our silence
Will drown them!
Better they hear
Our cries and groans:
They’ll find freshness in the shower
Of our lamentations.

If this cage still has its drums,
Then, in this night that we share with those suffering,
We shall welcome the aria of the moon
The bells of the stars, and the ringing of the sky.
Never cease to beat the rhythm of our sorrow
So that those who come from our bellies
Have hearts made of music
Salted with our tears.


3 thoughts on “La poésie

  1. Impressive command of the French language. The poem sounds very musical in both languages. Love these two lines: “Do we no longer believe in melodies/ Or know that they dissolve weapons?”
    All the images are absolutely beautiful and awareness raising: Why so much social injustice, so many unheard songs in our world? Love the ending too, powerful! Last year I wrote a poem about the love between two separated refugees:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved the poem. I’m the opposite of you, French but English is my strongest language.

    Never really thought about the constraints / less constraints. But then I grew up with several languages, so I was always focused on showing off my language skills. My aunt made me translate all her favorite soaps for her into English, and then she’d chew me out if I didn’t know an expression or a word. Maybe that comes close to constraints.

    Liked by 1 person

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