By: Mohamed Shaltami*

Writings on cell door 6

My comrades…
Will these stones grow grass in dawn?
Will the wishes bloom on the walls of death, and the seeds?
Will the songs resound through the echo?
And will the memories scent the stove?

Herein since a month
since a year
since a century,
a wall stood up and a prison and a doomed generation.

Will the sad spring sun, rise
to wake our demised dreams?

Will the nightingales and larks
recite tales of the city
which God once committed suicide on its door
thus, painting all the houses
and bushes with his blood
and that one night starving children
lit the moon.


My lord, kill me if you wish
your dialogue is useless
and the night if long
tortures me
and your hands if raised, threatens with a sword.
No, you won’t terrorize me
your era is weaved with fear
and your reign is a kingdom of injustice.

Interrogate, if you wish,
and torture my children
with desolation and night,
and throw me into oblivion in your prison
Thus, I can’t learn my lesson
with your police and agents
and allow me to sob for you
so I don’t harm myself
as the longer your stick, the weaker
your dwarf figure becomes on the chair.

Hang me if you wish,
Hang me,
But I won’t learn a word
And oppress me…
oppress me…
thus, the tyrant’s cemetery
is always full with his injustice
and let me dream of revolution,
I won’t deny its vision

Kill me, and cover up the cause
of my tormenting death,
I won’t doubt the promising dawn,
O, king that is made of the spear and dagger.


* Mohamed Shaltami (1945- ) Benghazi-Libya: A renowned Libyan poet, his early works of poetry was published in 1960’s and became very popular among university students and political activists in Libya. He was imprisoned for his opinions and political activism during the late years of the monarchy era and again in the early years of the Libyan revolution. He has six collections of poetry.