This poem was originally written in Kurdish in 1993 and translated by the poet.


It was war
that made my first morning sad,
it was war
that cast my book to the sea,
it was war
that left me repeatedly exiled,
it was war
that destroyed my evening playground,
it was war
that deprived me of flowers,
it was war
that drove me to despair,
it was war
that made me useless.


War creeps into in all aspects.
War is my soul flying between
being and not being.
War is the record of atrocities.
Between one war and another, barren flowers.
Between one ceasefire and another
startled sleep.


Since my beginning
I have been locked inside
a fence with the gate shut behind me.
Since my beginning, I have been embraced
by the convexity of the cease fire.
Since my beginning, I have been like a vanquished army
sitting idly behind walls.
like a listening device
for another battle.


I am tired
I am tired of war.
There has never been an evening,
that allowed me to throw down my gun,
dust myself, take off my belt.
sleep softly,
without having to be awakened
by another morning battle.

I am tired
I am tired of war.
War is without victories and defeats.
I am tired.
Since my beginning, I have been wandering
from war to war.

~ Jalal Barzanji

Jalal BarzAnji, poet and journalist, originally from Kurdistan, north of Iraq, started writing in 1970. He has published five collections of poetry in Iraq with great difficulty. He came to Canada in 1998, and served as Edmonton’s first PEN Writer-In Exile in 2007-2008.

“Home is a place where you feel no exile; in exile, you are always remembering the past, when you are at home you live in the present. Home is a place of ultimate freedom, a place of calm and serenity. Home can be a house, a street, a city, or a country. Having two separate homes can force your imagination to create a home of your own; that is the home I love.

My writing evolves, bringing back to life the things I see in my dreams, the things I feel in my soul, that I miss. The process of writing a poem for me first begins inside, and then I attempt to bring what I feel inside into words, the process of creating beauty that we all feel around us. That is the difficult part, putting it into words.”

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

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