Poems by Hassan Diab

The Arrest

They came with guns and dogs
They came with armoured cars
They were too many
They were everywhere
All of them came to arrest me
It was like a bad Hollywood script
Why do they always put on a show?
It was a sunny and cold morning
I was about to drink my tea
It was my last cup as a free man
No, No, I was not free then
I have not been free for a long time
In the land of ‘freedom’, I was not free
I was followed, harassed and intimidated
All is justified; all is excused
In the name of national security


The Cage

I live in a cage
Some might say it is a big cage
But it is still a cage
It has been there for long time
I forgot what’s like to be without
I can’t leave home alone
I can’t be outside on my own
I can’t stay late
All of my moves are tracked
I am followed; I am harassed
I can’t swim; I can’t run; I can’t breathe
Rules everywhere, rules every day
And all of these are not cheap
I have to pay dearly each month
For the privilege to be in a cage
Otherwise I am sent away
To a dark, cruel and bloody place
Which we politely call a prison
Is all of this worth being in a big cage?


The Trial

Kafka visited me
He asked how I was doing
I told him about my trial
And he told me about his
We compared notes
It pained us very much
That history keeps on repeating itself
In the archaic law of extradition
I can’t introduce evidence
That shows my innocence
But they can file handwriting reports
One after another
Even though it is not mine
They said I can change my writing
Strangely that was what they said
Of Dreyfus hundred years ago
Did we learn anything?
Did anything change?


The Nightmare

It is dark; it is night
I lay awake waiting
For the nightmare to end
It is light; it is day
The nightmare is still there
Always there; at all times
I eat; I read; I sleep and
The nightmare is my companion
It never leaves me
I beg, I plead, but it never goes away
Sometimes I see slight glimpses of my old life
So much has changed; so much has been lost
I wonder how and why
I wonder when the truth will shine
I wonder when I will be free


Scarred for Life

I have to admit
It was hard and painful to write
Like a rusty knife in the heart
Writing is beautiful but in these times
It is agonizing
To expose your pain
And lay it bare for all to see
It is easier when it is kept inside
You can pretend it is all a dream
What can I say? Who would listen
To shouts of injustice?
Do they travel far? Do they travel wide?
There are many out there
But who would listen?
Please tell me that someone will
Please tell me that justice will prevail
Otherwise, it is a very dark world



I apologize for the dark words
I was asked to write a poem
I wanted to write something beautiful
Cheerful and hopeful
But under siege
The taste of life changes
I wish I can tell you otherwise
I really wish
I apologize


Poems by Hassan Diab
Drawings by Franz Kafka