Galaxies of Road • No Goldblum, No Matter • Supposition


THREE POEMS BY OMAR SAKR
 

Galaxies of Road


My foot is trying to communicate with the stars.
I rub the hard arch, feel the harsh static heat
of distant burning. My grandmother
used to terrify my siblings and I with feet
made of bark, bigger than our bodies.
She never thought herself lost.
Her language made a country of her mouth,
it scorched the air, a whiplash snagging
ungrateful kids to work to ease her
work. I tried to knead the factory out
of her muscle, small fingers bending into
ache while she whispered och, och, och
Ya Allah, building into a chorus of praise to pain.
She was still alive, then. In the ground
she is buzzing, talking to the stars who know
what it is to have to walk so far
to be with family, to travel beyond themselves
in order to live a paler life some mistake
for fire. I don’t know if I have anything to say
to those galaxies of road, the blessed country
reserved for she who knows herself
without shame, who does not worship
suffering but accepts its burden
be it on her back or in a butcher’s garden.
Whenever I think myself lost, my unworked foot
recalls hers, tunes in, a struck bell to loss &
history itself begins to ring.

No Goldblum, No Matter


I want you to know I have seen a thousand dinosaurs
on a barn floor, most of them an outrageous yellow,
while some were black and all of course newborn,
shifting from thick talon to thick talon chittering
in anticipation of a stranger world than they knew.
You will say, they are not dinosaurs anymore.
You will say, look at their bodies. The body knows.
And it’s true, they were small and fluffy
and Jeff Goldblum was nowhere to be seen
and the place swam in waves of oily heat
and I could walk the dimensions of their universe
and the walls would be so easy to knock down—
walls always are—but bodies do not know
anything. They remember, and they imagine.
The day I saw a thousand dinosaurs, I knelt
in the soft mulch and whispered their history
and saw a raptor light come into their being,
which is to say, emerge from forgetting
as I once did. I know from whence I came.
I tore the stuffing out of a bus seat with my teeth
when the memories first transformed me,
and after that I saw the borders of my world
and laughed at their crude lines thinking
they knew the limits of my flesh.
Only carnage can come from such certainty.
I am never what I expect myself to be,
one day a man, the next a prehistoric dream.
If this is true of the cosmos, we must worry
what ours recalls, what it might still invent,
what was lost. It could be legendary,
a vicious animal or something small
enough to survive whatever is coming.

Suppositions


I said I would study the world and all
its subtle variations of which I am one
deviant, one devotee of disasters & small
triumphs like waking like swallowing
anger as it angles up the throat a hook
to spear flesh, to yank another into void.
I want an ode to the mundane only glory
keeps veiling even my mother’s ash
tray, a cracked slab she either stole
from an ancient temple or was gifted
by a man bamboozled by a boutique store.
It is a glory that flickers. A glory ghosted.
Sometimes I lick around the coffee cup
lapping up the omens before they’re read
and summon onto my tongue the sorrow
that made everything possible. I suppose
I sound religious. I suppose I am doomed
to finding angels on my shoulders anyway
I struggle to shield them from the rain.
Nobody needs my hands raised as shield
yet I keep raising them. The expected blow
always hits exposed bone. I leave the city
where beached angels gleam enormous,
blowholes sputtering a final fitful prayer.
I would have spared them the suffocation
of faith once, but no longer, bodied
as I am with everyone I forgot to look after.
I said I would study the world, not love it.
I walked away from the landed celestials,
who even dying were so full they could explode
and at any minute feed generations of bird, fish,
crab. This is the measure of holiness, I suppose
how much we can give at our last.

 
 

About the author

Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet from Western Sydney. His work has been published in English, Arabic, and Spanish, in numerous journals and anthologies. His debut collection, These Wild Houses (Cordite 2017), was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe award.

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