Djelloul Marbrook

Hasan ibn al-Sabah

(Lord of the assassins, 11th century)
Exile is a twofold problem:
no one eludes it and
mourned land disappears.
So while I hoped to complain,
I’ve nothing to complain about
except the poignant delusion
that some of us belong and
must be vigilant for those
who live among us in disguise.
We need the assassins
to exonerate what we do,
to make it seem less awful.
Hasan ibn al-Sabah lives
in our churches on Sunday,
in mosques and synagogues.
We can’t describe his face
because we wear it while
we hunt the foreign devils.

“Hasan ibn al-Sabah” is from Far from Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008).
Audio file of this poem is courtesy of Djelloul Marbrook and The Kent State University Press, from a CD of Marbrook reading the poems from his collection Far from Algiers.