Poem: Youssef Rakha

Ghazal: Alexandria-Cairo, 2018

After Agha Shahid Ali


“Where are you now?” Whose lobe will your hair touch tonight? *
Lame Cassanova, homesickness is my crutch tonight.

Something about the language bodies speak,
A nonexistent poem I’m browsing for tonight…

Erotic visions bloom, unfurled in Arabic—
Cavafy’s Greek has nothing on my slang tonight!

A Message not of words lies fallow past my screen.
Revelation in your scent—“All hearts are red tonight”! *

It’s true that “I am drunk and you’re insane”—
By your breath, “who will take us home” tonight? *

My heartache was too gangly for the slender café seat.
I could magic this laptop into David’s Throne tonight.

A fiddler plopped between us like a sailor’s corpse,
Why must my innards play a plaintive tune tonight?

The sea gives refugees orgasms as they sink,
Says Ginsberg’s Lion dying in my arms tonight.

Youssef, he whimpers—verses flash and blink—
Don’t let desire’s urchins die unheard tonight.


* Quotes in order of appearance are from: Ali, Fouad Haddad (my translation) and Rumi (many translations)


Born, raised and based in Cairo, Youssef Rakha is a novelist, poet and essayist who writes in both Arabic and English. His interests include Arab porn and the possibility of a post-Muslim perspective.  He can be found on Twitter @Sultans_Seal




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