Ibrahim El-Salahi Untitled from Prison Notebook 1976

  • Not on view

With craning necks, neighing, whispering, buzzing, and hissing,

We watch, as the piles of bodies come to life from ashes.

From our flesh the phoenix rises and flies away.

Today? No. Yesterday? No. Not even the promising future’s basil.

Today, from the bow of my dreams the long-held arrow of longing and anxiety sets off,

A fire that guts all debris and decay.

A fire as wide as the twilight, the horizons, the dusk.

And the curtains are dropped.

Today we will see the chimeras of things past with the eyes of what’s to become.

An old woman stretching her body,

A monkey guffawing on a hilltop,

A worm twirling in the embrace of the green land’s womb.

And the curtains were dropped.

Let’s begin the homecoming parade with chants.

In the eyes dwells the secret of the winds and clouds.

In the eyes, the secrets of love are secreted.

In my eyes falls the rain.

With dew, we can defeat death and drought.

With dew, we can dissolve rocks and pain.

Life is begotten from nothing.

By dew,

By melody.

Cheer up, Oh realms of youth and memories.

Rejoice, Oh stars of sleeplessness and slumber.

Your dead lantern is coming to life again.

Rejoice at the hopes, the solid resolve

At the outpouring longing, at man and his potentials.

Thunder, Oh my clouds, and spark lightning

On my eyes, do pour down. Oh rain.

Sleepless eyes,

Their bodies, in iron shackles, languishing,

Their hands and feet in chains.

They shattered the seal of prohibition,

And divulged, in public, the secret of the word.

Deeds have replaced words.

On the foreheads of truthfulness, the wings of emancipation flutter and flap.

Publication excerpt from Ibrahim El-Salahi. Prison Notebook, 1976. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018.
Ink on paper from a notebook with thirty-eight ink on paper drawings (recto and verso)
11 1/4 × 13 3/8" (28.6 × 34 cm)
Acquired through the generosity of Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin, Catie and Donald Marron, Alice and Tom Tisch (in honor of Christophe Cherix), Marnie Pillsbury and Committee on Drawings and Prints Fund
Object number
© 2021 Ibrahim El-Salahi / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London
Associated work
Prison Notebook
Drawings and Prints

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