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.
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
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.