For Faten


The serried gloating clang,

The vile awkwardness

Of the hammering –


Nearby, at a distance – construct this

Mortgage of and in the ear…

Certainly, the wife’s not song-


Smitten by this brouhaha, and as

You might expect, she speaks her mind

And builds this fear, these


Concrete layers of fear…

There are no summery illusions here

(Blinder within gladness


And madder in the hat’s own bower)

For this and this and this is where

The moan of a woman’s most


Naked, native power

May come to make his sadness,

Whale-large with incompetence


As he is

At the hawk-sharp sibilance

Of these eyeless rocky serpents


Winding round the ear, making

That same dumb feature hear

The fat and burning heart


Of a grub or a louse.

I want to forge her happiness

In the verse of a different house.


Omar Sabbagh

Omar Sabbagh is a widely-published poet, writer, critic and, betimes, scholar. Among his books are Via Negativa: a parable of exile, a Beirut novella (and his first full-length fiction) published with Liquorice Fish Books in 2016; and To The Middle of Love, his fourth collection of poetry, published with Cinnamon Press in 2017. He was Visiting Assistant Professor at the American University of Beirut from 2011-13. He now teaches at the American University in Dubai (AUD).

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