Abdourahman Waberi

Translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson


she lives barefoot
in the middle of nowhere
a mere nothing makes her smile
makes her blow a fuse
what a disaster, she utters under her breath
my stomach’s in knots from a headache
    reaching my glottis

two clouds later
she’s still butt-sliding down
gliding through pockets of air
serene amid unbounded abandon’s plumes

before the poem ends
and the minutes offend
for sure
the rain will be dense

here in chair or bed she spends
most of the days of her life
and most of the hours of her day
pondering silence

at night
she listens
to a young doum palm
grow even more green




elle vit pieds nusau milieu de nulle part
un rien la distrait
la sort de ses gonds
c’est une catastrophe, susurre-t-elle
j’ai l’estomac noué par un mal de tête au niveau
AAAde la glotte

deux nuages plus tard
elle descend encore sur les fesses
glissant dans les couloirs aériens
à son aise dans les plumes de l’immense abandon

avant la fin du poème
et l’outrage des minutes
pour sûr
il pleuvra dru

assise ou couchée elle passe là
la plupart des jours de sa vie
et la plupart des heures de la journée
à contempler le silence

la nuit
elle écoute
un jeune palmier doum
verdir de plus belle


Abdourahman A. Waberi is an award-winning writer born in what is today the Republic of Djibouti. Splitting his time between Paris and the United States, he teaches French and Francophone Literature and Creative Writing at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Muslim by birth, Waberi’s themes include living a simple life based on meditation and spirituality. For his commitment to the values of multiculturalism and diversity, he was awarded the 2016 Words to Change Prize.


Nancy Naomi Carlson has authored seven titles (translated and non-translated). She received an NEA grant to translate Abdourahman Waberi’s first collection of poems, which was a “Best Translated Book Award” (BTBA) finalist. This poem comes from MON NOM EST AUBE (NAMING THE DAWN), forthcoming from Seagull Books next year.  Her work has appeared in such journals as APR, FIELD, THE GEORGIA REVIEW, and POETRY. For more information, please see


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