Fidel Sbeity – Born in 1977 in South Lebanon, Fidel Sbeity made his way to journalism while pursuing his Law studies in Beirut. He contributes from 2000 till 2008 in studies and reports to numerous Lebanese and Arab periodicals and newspapers, including Assafir, Alhiwar, Albalad and the cultural supplement of Annahar, where he also publishes poems, essays and short stories. In 2005, he publishes his first collection of poems “Touffahat Newton” (Newton’s Apple) at Dar Al-Jadid editions, followed in 2008 by Kill the man Lift his skull high at Dar Annahda. Sbeity is currently a contributor to Al-mustaqbal and NowLebanon.
You will not rest. Do not caw like a crow, do not throw an apple into the bucket of rotten ones. Do not say that your father has cursed you in giving you life. When you were small you loved planes and pestered the teacher saying you wanted to be a pilot when you grow up. But you did not. There go the planes roaming above you, fast and gleaming, sending you gifts. Where did you get all this fear, challenger of God’s will? Where did you come by all these vile curses, you pirate pilot, pallid, nimble, infatuated with the sound of bullets?
You were carrying your wooden rifle and firing in every direction, felling your friends, you lowlife, you were killing them one by one, and those who did not die you pierced their bellies with your rifles nail until it penetrated the ground. Bam bam bam you yell at butterflies, pomegranate bulbs and birds that are afraid to come near you. Bam bam bam you run in the plains and down the hallway between the rooms, after your little sister who has mastered the role of the dead. Where did you get all of these burning bullets from? And where does all this fear cut off the sound of bullets come from? Have you grown up so much now that death has grown closer to you?
Do not caw. Cawing is for crows and you are a dry, lifeless field. You are a water spot in a forsaken house garden. You are a pilot without a plane, without a helmet, without a woman to love you, without compassion to swarm around you, without any questions. You are the pilot of banal silence which you impose on yourself because you are a poet. Quit your bad habits in times of war, come on tiger, over the broken slabs of cement in the cities that fill your imagination. How many cities can your intoxicated imagination hold? How many people and gardens and stray dogs and homeless people, and snake charmers and slaughterhouses waste and school-desks and daisies?
You wanted a city all to yourself – here it is plummeting from the sky, mirrors of its homes dropping onto the streets. You always said that God sees everything except airplanes – here go those planes passing beneath his eyes, polished and clean, clouds clasped to their tails. They descend and ascend, leaving that sight you so enjoy. Or has your atheism made the sky empty?
You will not rest. The hope hung inside the window of your eyes is an illusion, and you know it. The hope is grass on a wall lying on the ground. Walls do not become sidewalks when they fall, and men do not become pilots when they write poetry. The pilot man is a fear diffused in the spirit like a dapple of light on a black painting. The pilot man only sees the city from above, and only destroys it from above. Your hand above your head is like a dreadful sound overhead the city. It runs through your hair like destruction caresses fleeing life. Is this how you will spend your life? Is this what you will say to your children if ever you have any? That you were a pilot in the sky, killing children like them on earth? It is a ghastly story for children who do not yet know life.
The many tears you shed when you are alone do not change a thing – that a killer lives inside you, or that the sight of death does not bother you. These tears of yours, you should gather them in a cup and swig them down in one gulp, because the corpses in your intestines need water. You should gather your poetry in a book and give it a name, maybe “Newton on a Cloud for Example”, for example, but your poetry will remain the flaw of your spirit which is leaping ever upward. Leap over leap upwards, but the earth awaits your fall. Poem and body, body and poem. The earth swallows up all the filth of this world and you are no exception.
You will not rest, do not caw, cawing is for crows and you are the very description of one lost outside the kingdom of laughter, taken with flying, swaying like one bidding farewell to a pigeon he slaughters after writing it a long poem, melting like a frozen mountain dragged towards the desert. To say that war is your life, that you have only lived in war since you were born! To be waiting in a life to be buried alive in the air? Nonsense. You are a human being born of a relationship between a mother and a father, a female and a male, a womb and the breath of God.
Have it your way. Tell life to go away, and it will open for you the door of the wind that will save you from suffocation. Ask life to set down. Your sun is on its way to set anyway.
The fourth floor
He went up to the fourth floor thinking the view will be clearer from above.
He knocked a few light raps on the door. He waited a moment. Slow, sluggish footsteps approach the entrance. In the fourth floor apartment, a long hallway with doors to rooms on each side. He steps towards the fifth door and opens it. Three children are sleeping in a wide white bed. A fat woman sits in a chair and fixedly watches the sleeping children. The sunrays outside light the room’s balcony. A soft breeze sways between the curtains. The fat lady glanced at him with a vague look as if asking him to leave.
A few steps towards the last door. Disturbed, he opens it. Wind blows in his face as if he were being born that same second. He remembered his dark room, which he had left not so long ago.
Down on the street, trees seemed of average height. They were smaller last time he passed through.
He climbed over the balcony’s railing. He hung his head down so it would reach the ground first. Very quickly was the ground getting closer, black, asphalted, like a dry riverbed of coffee.
“Beautiful, the moment of touching the ground before crashing into it”, he said, while things were upside down before him. Darkness had fallen when things got back to normal.
Poetry in this post: © Fidel Sbeity
Published with the permission of Fidel Sbeity