Sunday Jul 14

JoudahFadycreditCybeleKnowles Fady Joudah has published four collections of poems, The Earth in the AtticAlightTextu, a book-long sequence of short poems whose meter is based on cellphone character count; and, most recently, Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance. He has translated several collections of poetry from the Arabic. He was a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007 and has received a PEN award, a Banipal/Times Literary Supplement prize from the UK, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also the series coeditor (with Hayan Charara) of the Etel Adnan poetry prize. He lives in Houston, with his wife and kids, where he practices internal medicine.


It’s always someone’s birthday:
a school of fish
rides the crest

of a wave like lizards
high on a kinetic
wall. Gust slices

through clouds like a candle.
Waist deep in water
we’ve given up

all meat for a year. Every so often
dolphins catch their prey
in midair.

Black vulture,
black vulture in the heart
of the city, two
on a front lawn
in my affluent
district, what are you

doing trying to cross
the street like a chicken
cautious of our engines
at a four-way stop,
black vulture,

black vulture,
are you husband and wife,
brother and sister,
how sable your feathers
and argent the leather
helmet you don,
what is it you see,

squirrel, bird egg,
or human garbage?
Black vulture,
were you not averse
to carnivore
and omnivore,

I’d say you’re waiting
for an old house dog
or an elderly woman,
but there are
no nursing homes
in your heart,

and you cannot sing,
you mobile
coffin, unmarked
necropolis, entropy’s
hearse, I leave you to it.

Joudah photo credit: Cybele Knowles