Syrian refugee Saad Abdllah’s poem was included in the ‘Polis, Flows, Tensions‘ exhibition at the Cacoyannis Foundation. It is a gripping, bitter-sweet portrait of Athens:
Athens: Name without title
A torn panel painted by the most exquisite artist
And a dark room for sex and addiction,
It is a land on which livestock are born;
A sea in which desires sink and honesty drowns
And the sky becomes dreams without wings or addresses.
Land originated from the dust of the past
And mansions built in golden years now dead
Who are you?
Whisper to me…
Who is that old woman whose face shows the effects of ageing?
Yes, Athens, capital of gold now stolen,
The garden of the lying and hanged king,
Or the beggar prostitute in the streets.
City of false extinct dreams
And school to love and science, now closed.
You are the flower of humiliation and scattered petals.
You are the spray of free perfume from the sea-shore .
Athens hear me please.
I swear to you that… I don’t have a tongue to decry the pain in your streets.
Nor do I have enough tears to clean your streets or wash your wounds
And there is no ink in my pen to write a poem of your death.
Yes, I will say that the homeless in your streets today are the same as the philosophers of your past,
The hungry today in your buildings are the same as the merchants of your past.
Please remove these soiled clothes
And begin again the search for your past glory.
Look at the distant sky.
The stars of the night are crying
And the evening sun will tell you
If you don’t wake up the dream of the past will erase your being.
You are a fire without a fireplace.
You are a heart without arteries and veins.
You are a book without a library.
You are a young man imprisoned, accused and innocent.
You are a voice shrinking to nothingness
And you are a failed state without order.
Every spot on your face is a temple
But they will not diminish your torment or gain a thing.
Please, my old friend stop playing and crying
And rise up as those rose up who lived on your land and left.
Drink from the love glass that remains forever
And dance on the chest of your lover without undressing or kissing.