Escaping Places I’ll be nothing, a nothingness creeping on the body of existence.

In the midst of places escaping
from the claws of misery
and from the twists of a stagnant, sticky time,
where life is a dead body
hanging from the rope of hatred,
shedding her skin like a serpent in a tropical forest,
there’s nothing but destruction,
nothing but futile death,
a life toasted with the taste of death.

I will be a rock
rolling across the waist of a barren land.
A trunk-less tree
whose leaves are dangling over a hell pit.
A priest packed with insane lust
at the outskirts of the Lord’s bleak wilderness.
A whore with a saggy chest,
offering her body for men to spit on.
I’ll be a barren cloud,
nailed to the sky’s womb.
A widow sobbing behind the veil of darkness.
A faint light writhing in pain
between the night’s jaws.
I’ll be nothing,
a nothingness creeping on the body of existence.

With a pale, gloomy face
like a home of dead spiders;
a gaunt, veiny hand,
like a bark-less tree trunk;
a faint heart,
an aging spirit,
a body bursting with ravage,
and slow, terrified steps—
I’m heading towards my fate

Abdel Wahab Yousif, better known as Latinos, was a South Sudanese poet. He died in 2020 when a rubber boat carrying African immigrants sank into the sea shortly after setting off from Libya on its way to Europe.


These poems were translated from Arabic into English by Adil Babikir, a Sudanese translator and copywriter based in the UAE. His published translations include Mansi: a Rare Man in his Own Way by Tayeb Salih (Banipal Books, 2020); Modern Sudanese Poetry: An Anthology (University of Nebraska Press, 2019); The Jungo: Stakes of the Earth, a novel by Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin (Africa World Press, USA, 2015); Literary Sudans: An Anthology of Literature from Sudan and South Sudan, (Red Sea Press, USA, 2016); Summer Maze, a collection of short stories by Leila Aboulela, translated to Arabic (Dar al-Musawarrat, Khartoum, 2017). Babikir is a contributing editor of Banipal Magazine. Some of his translations appeared in Banipal, The Guardian, Al-Doha magazine, and Jalada Africa. His forthcoming works include a collection of Sudanese short novels and a book on the legendary Bedouin poet al-Hardallo.

Cover Image: Ahmed Nishaath on Unsplash.