Yahia Lababidi



Yahia Lababidi, an Egyptian-American thinker and poet, is the author of five books in four genres. His sixth book, a collection of aphorisms, is ready and fluttering wildly against the bars, awaiting an intrepid publisher. Lababidi has been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera and in The Guardian. For more information, please visit – http://www.pw.org/content/yahia_lababidi.


What If

If he truly believed in angels
they would appear, I said in a dream
(of whom I spoke I can’t recall)

Then I remember disintegrating
into hot tears as I realized
that I also spoke of myself

And in that wild, greedy moment
I challenged an angel to appear
as I cowered in a darkened closet

Full of longing and terror, I endured
the suspense of that great What If
– relieved the angel did not answer.


The Opposite of Virtue

One might say, a vice is a vise
never mind if metal or moral,
it’s basically the same device

with cunning moveable jaws
designed to fix us in place
and cheat us of a chance at grace

Impervious to all advice, habit
hotly whispers false reassurance
while tightening its iron grip

It takes no effort to slip into vice,
but virtue is trickier to stick to
like the back of a bucking bronco.


Night bird

How night descends, enveloping us in its great sacred wings,
with the promise of a deeper silence than day dared to offer
Now, if only we can endure this tremendous stillness
we might still be restored to ourselves, once again
Tread lightly, cover the smiling mirrors and sullen screens
don’t let any spirit escape through the 1,001 trap doors

Listen, those are your own footsteps you hear approaching

Don’t look around, or move much, enemies of the holy hush
crouch nearby, ready to pounce. They want your attention
in pieces, smashed like a porcelain vase. The quiet majesty
of your mounting wholeness disturbs them more than anything else
Try, try with all your might, to make it last the night. As you tremble
and sweat, remember this triumph next time you forsake your oaths.



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