Corner piece

Dan Flavin - Corner Piece

Dan FlavinUntitled (Corner Piece), 1987 4 neon tubes ed.3/5



by the image
not there,
we resign
to inequity
in fear

alone in our existence
we cannot be justified

and onward we walk
from ashes to dust,
time casts her shadow
as life slowly unravels.


Trick Mirror

So we met one night
right here as we do
immersed in the darkness
of the search-and-conquer,
And you sat on a bench
with eyes unfocused
as your blankness gazed
expressionless and small

You turned to me then
as you turn to me now
with head held in hands
sizing-up whilst smiling,
Beneath shadows cast
by a deception drawn
you affirm the void within
your meaningless defense.

– Sarah Badr

© 2009.  S.H.Badr, All Rights Reserved.

Gallery — Homebound

Homebound (Zone 1 & 2)
by Sarah Badr, 2008
(133 x 200 cm) x 2 giclée print panels

Route 242

Here again.

plugged in
and waiting;
I wonder how long
it will take to get
me home tonight.

Clambering on,
detachment sits down
on furniture unmoved,
itchy patterned fabric
as the distant sounds
emitting from my ear
drown out the noise
of light and smoke.

It’s her again.

Same old woman,
that silent shadow
seated in my row
every night in a row,
by now having learnt
all there is to know
short of knowing
each other’s names.

Ours this hour
is a knowledge
of destinations:
stops in streets
on invisible paths
leading to the
nearby places
on the east-side
of nowhere,


She reads my guilt
as I read my book:
page by page,
line by line,
every word
by every


I feel her gaze.
I turn the page.

Mare Street turns
into Morning Lane,
and all that buffers the
space between flesh
and the sense of eyes
is the anonymous disposition
to which we resign ourselves
on wheels unyielding–
awash with curiosity
in the gaps between
the rush-hour traffic,


– Sarah Badr

© 2008. S.H.Badr, All Rights Reserved.

Mr. Nichols

Matt Black & Jonathan More

A bit of lyrical wisdom found in an unlikely place… Featuring Saul Williams on the album Sound Mirrors (2006) by London-based duo Coldcut.

Mr. Nichols

Please Mr. Nichols, come back inside the window. I can’t promise you anything, but I trust that there is far greater reason to live. I know you’ve become disheartened and disillusioned by the current state of affairs. Your stocks are falling, your investments have failed you, the man from whom you took orders has been ordered to jail by his and your subordinates. You question what is this world coming to, what is the profit margin when you’re forced to pander to the marginalized…Where’s the glory you dreamt of as a child, dressed as a cowboy, your play-gun pointed at real targets, your mother holding her tongue as your father consoles her with the words “It’s just boy stuff”..?

Well, you joined his fraternity, you grew into his old suits, you acquired his beliefs, you embodied his dreams, and with them his oversights. How long did you think it would last? It’s just a matter of time; the world is far from over. Look, your mother outlives your father, your sister outlives your brother, and if you jump from this window today, she’ll also outlive you. Look at her, sitting in her Midwestern home, tuned into Oprah once again; today, she learns to meditate on a second-hand couch. Meanwhile, you stand outside this window, twelve stories above the ground, one story remaining untold…

You contemplate the setting sun, unaware of your disorientation: dis-orient, turned away from the East. The shifting current seems to conspire against you. Mr. Nichols, you fail to see that you’ve always stood outside of this window, perched on the threshold of oblivion, countless man-made stories above the truth. For so long you’ve stood facing the setting sun, mistaking the complimentary unified duality of nature as being Right or Wrong, Good or Evil, God or Devil…Mr. Nichols, instead of stepping from this ledge into the downfall of your uprise, why not just turn around, lessen the intensity of your Western glare and face the rising sun? Note the energy swirling from its center, how it illumines us all and only the birds fly first class.

There is your inheritance: the warmth of a kiss. Invest your tongue into the mouth of mystery, allow her breath to seep into your lungs, and surrender to her touch and guidance. There’s no other way. Your dreams of dominance will only help you forsake yourself, while your family continues its search for understanding, and your daughters outlive your sons…

See also: Coldcut (Ninja Tune)

Poet of memories

Mahmoud Darwish
March 15, 1941 – August 9, 2008
Portrait by Ismail Shammout

These last few months have seen several of this generation’s greatest figures of the arts pass away, and it is in the face of these losses that it has also come to be a time of reflection for the cultural collective psyche. In contemplating the lives of such artists, writers and historians, one slowly begins to grasp the tremendous impact they have had on our Modern Age — for it is in such legacies that we see irrefutably invaluable knowledge and experience passed down from ancestors preceding in the history of lands past, present and preserved. No better an example of such a legacy than that belonging to Palestinian writer and Struga Poetry Evenings laureate Mahmoud Darwish, and it is most unfortunate news that he passed away last Saturday. My first reading of Darwish was some years ago, with the unforgettable Memory for Forgetfullness sparking my further discovery of his work, for which I have held a tremendous fondness ever since. With an exceptional power to balance poetry and prose in his crafting of narrative, Darwish’s work has been able to serve a greater purpose than that of art (for itself) or that of culture (for the masses).

Instead (though of course brilliant both in terms of artistry and cultural exemplum), his work has served as a profound record of history, creating a medium for the voices so easily drowned out in the destructive and turbulent conflict and politics of the Middle East today. It is for this reason as well as the everlasting enjoyment of his words that I sincerely hope that his work continues to be read and remembered (not least by starting to read Memory for Forgetfullness, which is available online in its entirety) by the generations to come. And equally so (though perhaps a little idealistic on my part), I hope that others are inspired by him to carry on his legacy, continuing to record history and relay the knowledge and experience passed down from ancestors via the various outlets that the world of art makes available. (Obituary and poem to follow below.)

Palestinian poet Darwish dies
August 10, 2008
Al Jazeera

Mahmoud Darwish, the renowned Palestinian poet, has died after open heart surgery at the Memorial Hermann medical centre in Texas. Ann Brimberry, Memorial Hermann’s spokeswoman, confirmed to Al Jazeera that Darwish died at 1.35pm (18:35 GMT). Siham Daoud, a fellow poet and friend of the 67-year-old, said he had asked not to be resuscitated if the surgery did not succeed. She said Darwish departed for the US ten days ago for the surgery, and he had undergone two operations for heart problems before Saturday’s surgery.

Best known for his work describing the Palestinian struggle for independence, the experience of exile and factional infighting, Darwish was a vocal critic of Israeli policy and the occupation of Palestinian lands. Many of his poems have also been put into music – most notably Rita, Birds of Galilee and I yearn for my mother’s bread, becoming anthems for at least two generations of Arabs. “He felt the pulse of Palestinians in beautiful poetry. He was a mirror of the Palestinian society,” Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian anthropologist and lecturer in cultural studies at Al Quds University in Jerusalem said. Last year, Darwish recited a poem damning the deadly infighting between rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah, describing it as “a public attempt at suicide in the streets”.

Early life

He was born in the village of Barweh in Galilee, a village that was razed during the establishment of Israel in 1948. He joined the Israeli Communist Party after high school and began writing poems for leftist newspapers. He was put under house arrest and imprisoned for his political activities, after which he worked as editor of Ittihad newspaper before leaving to study in the USSR in 1971. Originally a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Darwish resigned in 1993 in protest over the interim peace accords that Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, signed with Israel.

As a journalist, he worked for al-Ahram newspaper in Cairo and later became director of the Palestinian Research Centre. In 2000, Yossi Sarid, Israel’s education minister, suggested including some of Darwish’s poems in the Israeli high school curriculum. But Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister overruled him, saying Israel was not ready yet for his ideas in the school system. In 2001, he won the Lannan prize for cultural freedom.

Leaves of Olives was published in 1964 when Darwish was 22-years old. Since then more than 20 volumes of his works of poetry have been published.

I Come From There
Mahmoud Darwish

I come from there and I have memories
Born as mortals are, I have a mother
And a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends,
And a prison cell with a cold window.
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls,
I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass.
Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words,
And the bounty of birds,
And the immortal olive tree.
I walked this land before the swords
Turned its living body into a laden table.

I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother,
When the sky weeps for her mother.
And I weep to make myself known
To a returning cloud.
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood,
So that I could break the rule.
I learnt all the words and broke them up,
To make a single word: Homeland….

See also: Mahmoud Darwish (Official Site)

A prayer and a poem (pieces at random)

History in prose (pieces at random)

Gallery — Perennial

Perennial (c) Sarah Badr 2008

Perennial, Study N°4 (detail)
90 x 100 cm high gloss print, 2008

Distant Figures

Cairo smell,
that smell that lingers
like summer of ’94

I remember
because I was on that
balcony with you,
with a gown as pale
as the pale blue sky
and the sounds of birds
rustling in trees
down below

Eight stories down,
fourteen years ago.

Where are you taking me
with the air that glides beneath
your unsturdy wing?

A man once spoke to me
of having a lover
in every city in the world

His was a number,
a collection of names
in cities spanning
continents for some
distance and comfort

And I, he said,
was Cairo.

Oh, Cairo
What do you mean to me?
Do you mean anything at all?

I try to find the rhyme,
a rhythm to my sentiment
for a land for which
I have no pitch
no notes, no key.

Only clashing colours
and turbulent sounds
bikya, bikya!
as the cars rage by
in a city awakening.

We awaken to find
hot tea and hot bread,
that sweet morning cigarette
cumin-covered, oil-drizzled
a traffic jam on the
bridge of excuses.

Are you leaving or coming?
For how long, why so long?

Concrete bodies
with spines of smoke,
it is here where the
streets are names
of the numbers of days
in the years of a history
steeped in war

And nameless alleys
carve rivers near a
bridge of excuses,
the numbers of a
desert drowned
by haphazardly
parked cars

And the rest,
just numbers
of scarred children
and broken homes
in this land of
clashing canons
and turbulent smog

No wonder.
No wonder at all.

I am on a road
named after a man
and his father
and his father’s father–
I am in a land with streets
of wars and men.

– Sarah Badr