Poems: Yahia Lababidi

What the Migraine Said

As I lie, here, half in and out of consciousness
I imagine my migraine as a world migraine
my cluster headache as a cluster of world aches
that we must tip toe around like a sleeping tiger

The sleep of reason produces monsters—
this we know from art and the news:
murder and sham leaders shooting themselves
in one foot and chewing on the other.

But, the sleep of reason produces angels, also
like Love, which is no whimsical thing,
a love like bull, bullfighter and bloody cape,
billowing in the wind, like an open heart

Beckett said this best, truth in paradox:
The mystics I like…their burning illogicality
–the flame…Which consumes all our filthy logic…
Where there are demons there is something precious

Once we know this, the rest is silence.
The master is not permitted
the same mistakes of a novice.



Can we ever write about matters
that we cannot speak of
the thing or two that determine
who we are and what we do

When can we hint at the harm
we’ve hardly survived
the realization that our allure
is due to deformity

Sure, we confess in code
here, there and everywhere
beneath our breaths
and over their heads

But when can we ever speak,
plainly, of our obscene pain
to whom and how might we
unburden ourselves, artlessly

The answer might be never
whispers art, to which we owe all
—our lives, wisdom and masks—
only transformation will set us free.


A Name

To have a name and make a name is not the same
True, both are spun of love and will and dreams
But one is blindly granted as we blink in the light,
The other we must forge from our innermost

Nameless, once more, we are reborn into the world
From the soul’s furnace, we strive to stake our claim
Hotly hammering desires, giving shape to longing
And setting it to cool, approximating an ideal

Then again, we must teach this babe to crawl ahead
Mothering it with care, fathering it with courage
So that, one day, it can freely live apart from us
And find its place in our clamoring times and after.


11th Hour Plea

One foot here, one foot there
how much longer, weary pilgrim,
lingering at the threshold?

One step forward, two steps back
—still lusting after this world—
Have you forgotten your promises?

To die to your self, to transmute
the mud to gold, to surrender
distractions and consent to be born?


Bargaining with Whom?

The price we pay
for exquisite secrets
is exorbitant

In private rooms,
we are fleeced.

Far from the madding crowd
at the bazaar, there we are,
sheepish and sly

Seeking to strike a deal
but with… Whom?

A gem-like truth
is up for auction
for those with diamond hearts

To kiss a mystery,
a miracle to hoard

Naturally, is well beyond
what we ever dreamed
we could afford

We give our lives for such
shuddering intimacies

And hope and pray
our lives will be enough,
the balance cancelled

The guardian of the riddle
must only speak in riddles.


Yahia Lababidi is the author of 7 books, most recently, 2 critically-acclaimed books of aphorisms: SIGNPOSTS TO ELSEWHERE (Hay House, 2019) and WHERE EPICS FAIL (Unbound, 2018). To find out more: amzn.to/2L2jTEc


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