Salah Abdel Sabour

(1931-1981 / Egypt)

For Which Please Accept Apologies - Poem by Salah Abdel Sabour

It's my job, my lords, to sing!
I hug my lyre, all right,
But then my heart,
Pierced with arrows five
Is my secret treasure
My real measure,
Both orchard and grave.
That's where I plant my corpses dear, Taken in times of fear
And buried in a bosom abysmal.
It's to it that repair
In my solitary raptures
When on occasion I dare
Face the evening
Without my regular provision
Of hash and women!
I unshroud them,
Stand them up
Or stretch them across,
Drive away sleep,
Peer into their diamond dumb eyes, Then run away for wine and tears.
An account of the corpses must be giv n: One belongs to a poor and hungry child Which I had buried in time
So remote and obscure;
I cried as I did so,
I cried, was broken, dissipated,
I cried, was duly truncated, and, Cloud-like, thinned out, dissolved,
And must have disappeared.
O pity, pity, my lordly knights! For all of a sudden
Two heads have grown
On both shoulders:
One had eyes bright
That peered ahead,
The other had lidless eyes
With an eyeball
Coiling in his nape
Like a snake.
My aplogies, I have to be brief, For the corpses, so many,
Buried year after year, so many, Must go to sleep.
`I offer you drink and opium,
`To doze off peacefully, good souls, `I offer you tears and groans,
`My dear dead!'
What have you now to say
What noises could you make
O tortured dead?
You there! Didn't I bury you
A year ago?
Strange corpse!
You came to life
In the beginning
So rough and coarse,
So monstrously disfigured:
You had long shanks but no knees, With a wide mouth, spreading
As if a faint smile
Stuck, weed-like,
Round your jaws!
O body of the old clown, sleep!
O child, in whose garments
I lived for years, sleep!
Lie on your bed of dust
And munch your solitary crust!
And you, whose eye-balls are so glazed, Whose lips drop forth words
White and briny - poisoned froth. And you, didn't I bury you yesterday? (It was an old, wise greyhead
Who found himself dead
When required to draw on wisdom
The wrong way round;
His head actually rolled on
From leg to abdomen
Back into position
But fearful and rotten).
Sleep, my friend,
Bear up your torment
And adjust their wisdom
To your old garment.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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