My Arab Spring that Never Was – A Poem

(Photo: Via Aljazeera)

By Nasser Barghouty

I thought in numbers we could say what is
or what was right
placards drawn with blood and no fright
young and old stay the course
street by street
and night after night
where the stars have turned a page
and time its stray discourse
and the whole world a stage
on my spring that never was

Tell me if I am right
if you happen to see my black from my white
tell me if might had always made right
in this Arab spring of mine
that never was
tell me if you can
tell me if history
or geography
or a crude stereography
have me and my story
and our Arab glory
in their jaws
or will it
in my night
and in my endless flight
ever shine?
Tell me if you can

Red is the new color of my sight
not white
red is the new word
on the streets of my Arab spring
that never was
red is the new color of my sight
or have I erred
tell me if you can
what have I stirred?
in this history
this geography
this Arab glory?
that turns right into wrong
weak into strong
and what is whole
into the absurd?
is it darker
is it bright?
Tell me if you can

Three years and counting
from Benghazi to Baghdad
have we forgotten how to count?
or have we laid to rest all
that which together
we have breathed
and dreamt
and defended stout
tell me if you can
was it sane or was it mad
to heed that call
for my Arab spring that never was
to drop all for what was unsheathed
and for that which was just and a cause
tell me if you can

I was there in every corner
and every turn
in every broken bone
and every moan
I was there
I touched and kissed every tear
year after year
one fading smile after the other
one hopeless yearn after another
I was there
street, capital, and
I no longer dare
to speak
to face or stare
my Arab spring that never was
here or there.

– Nasser Barghouty contributed this poem to

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  1. Nasser , I hope that the ache for a true spring that lies between the beautiful but dreadful lines of your poem will be calmed, healed and redeemed – soon.

    • Thank you warmly, Vacy. Like a dear friend confided in me once; “I hope to hope!”.

  2. Dear Nasser – I love your poem and ask you for permission to share it on my facebook in order that my country folks can also share your heart; thanks.
    jarouk jansom

    • Warm regards and appreciations from my end, Jarouk. I really don’t know what is involved in a “permission” here! May be the folks at can shed some light on this, but sharing is what this is all about; in words and in imagery.

  3. The two “anonymous” comments above are my own replies to Vacy and Jarouk, repectively. Did not mean to leave them unsigned, but my Mac was not hand-shaking all that well with “ABC”‘s Capcha code.

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