Published 5 March 202231 May 2022 · Poetry / Friday Features / Friday Poetry / Main Posts Poetry | Three poems by Omar Sakr Omar Sakr Redback after Nikki Giovanni The strangers living in my house know death has taken up residence under our doorstep. They were anxious to keep this secret, aware of how much I value my life & how willing I am to kill to preserve it. Death is small and unconcerned with you, they said. Simply step over him into life. Your day awaits. I can’t stop thinking about my mortal enemy. How dare he live so close and take comfort from my home, what a villain. Every day now I let the doorway hold me and linger over the crack he slumbers in. Death will only come out at night they tell me, these concerned strangers, he keeps to himself otherwise. Such wondrous naiveté. If left alone death will have children and his children will be hungry. Life demands it. Who could be so generous as to deliver their body into the mouth of the wolf? To say, let him slaver on my skin. Don’t drive him away. I am not a generous man. I will crush death if I can. Sometimes I fear I might be his child, true product of his teaching. What if I look and see only myself? Is that what the strangers saw when they spoke quietly with death out on the moonlit stoop? I envy those small moments when they give themselves over to the dark, their soft laughs. I want their goodness, I want for this kindness to not be strange. I tell all this to the moon who dies so often and must know something of the affair and the moon in pity tears a strip off her black blanket and gifts to me a blindfold, so I can re-enter my home unafraid to call those I live with by their names. Fruit After my mother, who gave me the wounded earth leaves my house, a stolen peach in hand, and with only cherries to speak for her presence, I shudder all over, again at how close she came to knowing me. I bow beneath the mercy of our separation. It turns out language is good for nothing except accumulating damage, a barrage of expensive fireworks & missiles. Such ecstatic displays! Smell the cordite. Watch the smoke become memory. Ya immi, won’t you take back these unforgiving waters? As you return to your own lonely home, past the tree you plundered of its fruit won’t you pause a moment to say, mother to mother: I, too, have children I tore into pieces. Suppositions I suppose I am a student of the world and all its subtle variations. I suppose I want an ode to the mundane, yet glory keeps veiling my mother’s ashtray, a cracked slab she either stole from a temple or was gifted by a man bamboozled in a boutique store. I suppose glory flickers. Glory ghosts. Sometimes I lick around the coffee cup lapping up the omens and summon onto my tongue the sorrow that made everything possible. I suppose I sound religious. I suppose I am doomed to finding angels on my shoulders anyway. Nobody needs my hands raised as supposed shield yet I keep raising them. I suppose this existence, this country, this coast where beached angels gleam enormous blowholes sputtering a final fitful prayer. I would have spared them once, but no longer, bodied as I am with everyone I forgot to look after. My mistake was in supposing to study the world, instead of love it. I walked away from the landed celestials, who even dying were so full they burst to feed generations of bird, fish, crab. This is the measure of holiness I suppose, how much we can give at our last. Overland’s Friday Features project is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. Omar Sakr Omar Sakr is the author of two acclaimed poetry collections, These Wild Houses (Cordite, 2017) and The Lost Arabs (UQP, 2019) which won the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry. His debut novel, Son of Sin (2022) is out now. More by Omar Sakr › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 15 September 202326 September 2023 · Friday Features Activating the poetic spirit as friendship John Kinsella I’ve always had the aching feeling that—as a text to be shared among friends and maybe eventually ‘enemies’—the soul-body dialogue poem is a way of arguing towards spiritual certainty in the face of earthly corruption and doubt. First published in Overland Issue 228 8 September 202315 September 2023 · Main Posts Announcing the 2023 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize ($6500) Editorial Team Supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, and named after the late Neilma Gantner, this prize seeks excellent short fiction of up to 3000 words themed around the notion of ‘travel’; imaginative, creative and literary interpretations are strongly encouraged. This competition is open to all writers, nationally and internationally, at any stage of their writing career.