Tuesday, December 06, 2022 | Jumada al-ula 11, 1444 H
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Life Slipping Slyly

A Window into Contemporary Omani Literature

In an earlier column titled “Hard Imagery and Sharp Language” I introduced a series of short poems by the pioneering Omani poet Saif Al Rahbi. Arguably, the most salient feature of those poems was the suddenness and the freshness of their endings. This feature is no less salient in the following short poems from the same collection: A Man from the Empty Quarter (Beirut in 1994).


Life slyly slips from my hand

After I clung on it.

I stare at it

Turn from the heel of my evening

To my first cup

To chase her like a huntsman

The start of a galaxy's birth in my head.


I seek shelter

From the palm tree of the past

Sneak into the dreams of those sleeping

On roofs dazzled by sun and breeze

I inspect my memory' citizens

Like a commander inspecting his troops

That ran away from slaughter.


The key to abyss is a cup of wine:

That's the life we steal

From the wolf’s mouth.


Like prayers, stars have their own chapels

We saw them in their luminous mihraab

The shooting stars sank in our eyes

Like large needles from travelling light

We didn’t fathom immortality.


An Iraqi

Bends to pick up a date

In the wind of exile

Remembering Iraq's dates.


We're not stupid

We’re not doves of war

We shall plow this injury

Till the last tear in the horizon.


Like a churn

The sky verges on explosion

Thunderbolts and hailstones

But it doesn't brighten.


The past is before us like some polar islands,

Where the ice melts

In installments.


We owe nobody

But our bereaved feet owe distances.


A kind hand stretches with father-like love

Takes us to it

While calamities picnic on the pavement.


I saw the shooting stars cry

On my father's farm

The storm of clouds and the fainting of orbits.

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