Abdallah Zrika’s ‘Funeral of the Snow Grenade’

Abdallah Zrika‘s “Funeral of the Snow Grenade” first appeared in the Winter 2019 (THE STRANGE) issue of ArabLit Quarterly, in Tim DeMay’s translation:

The poems, which came from Zrika’s collection Insect of Infinity, were accompanied by a conversation between the poet and Ali Abdeddine and Shireen Hamza.

Funeral of the Snow Grenade

By Abdallah Zrika

Translated by Tim DeMay

The snake of writing is near a sparrow of reading. Pleasures spill from a cloud bed. A sugar of metaphors in a cup of blood. Trains did not arrive at the split of the explorer’s foot. A dead language in the throat of a dead poet. Assassins only wait for the day of the feast. Cemeteries are only full of white beds. The scalpels near the cake. Grapes do not grow but in the wound.

Grenades do not appear but near candles. The voices of the wounded like the songs of toilets. Something from the trashcan is in the bird’s wing. Perfume in the hand of the chalk seller. And coal in the white of a dream. A telephone receiver between the ribs of fear. Night in a thief’s pockets. Gravediggers pursue the image of a butterfly. Whiteness stacked like the dark. Children like screws of a coffin. Winds arresting only

the clothespins on the line. Solitude near a lemon peel. A peacock instead of a film screen. And music nipping at the dogs’ barks. Connotations in golden cups. Chaos in the color of bread. Mills in the middle of rose fields. Fools devour the brain of the blind. A word is unwritten except on a piece of soap. The steam of a voice on the mirror. And silence in the white of a refrigerator.

Sparrows in a sleeper’s pillow. Meaning flees from a nick in a stone. A scorpion in the fur of a cave of dreams. A well behind the shadow of a cloud. A daisy in the eye of a woman leaving the hammam. The nakedness of a prison wall. A barracks near a mosaic description. Souks in a cup of tea. The warmth of hay in wine. Wheat in the fingers of a drowned man. And snow eating the feet

of the dead. Soil in the sweat of writing. Honey flowing from the neck of the simile. A language’s graveyard that not one death knows. The sensations like blades cutting the chest. A rain of milk falls on the green earth. And poems with nothing in them but fruit and a safety pin. The eyes’ gardens do not see. Rust covers the yellow of the sun. And earth and water and soap

and a dead woman. Giraffes that only see windmills. The chariots of laughter approach the margins of a book. An odor of sleep in a flask of perfume. And red and void and red and white. Lips licking a glass chest. Black consumes the red of dusk. Time like the shoe of a chalk seller. The hands of a watch rowing in an eye’s cup of blood. And solitude

like sadness in a donkey’s eyes. Another sadness and another fruit. The odor of wood in a dawn greened by the blue. Forests eating from the poet’s face. A red fog above a crime. The yellow of the sick on the page of a photo. And the twists of pain in the bubbles in a glass. Exhaustions in a crust of bread. Lamps illuminate only the night’s dew. Coldness is what does not help

to write. Rain is what sleeps on the roof. Voids where logic cannot enter. And the cracks of language on a bent tongue. The coat hangers that await the arrival of bicycles. The chair that others have forgotten. Fish in the water of a drunken mirage. Death crumpled in the napkin of warm bread. The wheels of madness in the head

of an ant. A bracelet transforms from an idea into a constraint. And a language transforms from a string to a needle
………………and vanishes beneath the earth
………………or beneath a dead tongue


Born in 1953 in Casablanca, Abdallah Zrika has been writing since he was very young. His works were first published in 1973, in various Arabic newspapers and mag- azines in Morocco. He was imprisoned for two years. He holds a degree in sociology from the School of Literature in Rabat, and now lives in Paris. He has published at least eight books of poetry in Arabic, two novels, and several plays and short stories in magazines of Arabic literature. Many of his poems have been translated into French.

Tim DeMay is a PhD student in English Literature at the University of Chicago, where he researches experimental art and resistance. His translations have appeared in Banipal, Gulf Coast, and Asymptote.