Some Joys (Or, Proof I’m Not Dead Yet)


September 20, 2023
The poet Omar Sakr

Omar Sakr is a poet and writer born in Western Sydney to Lebanese and Turkish Muslim migrants. He is the acclaimed author of the novel Son of Sin(Affi...

An image of a bear's face

Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun (Snuneymuxw First Nation), digital design 

I would not start with the cruel creep of the virus

the sickened hours, the unkept home, the ragged breath in new

lungs, the light dimmed, the small human rains,

the unthinkable thought now the only thought

clinging to the underside of every unwashed word rancid

in the moonless dark, or the little temperature gun—though why

call it a gun when its only measurement is life?—assessing

his heat, her heat, our smokeless signature, I would not start

with this, nor the medicine & toys & water dropped off

a week into our worsening, the bruised embrace of bodies

daring to heal, no, not that either. I would start with his squeak

of delight after he wakes. O creation! The light in his eyes!

The tremendous meaning of it in a plague-ridden world.

In any world. I would start with the moment

I broke and cried, cried, cried, loosening my death

grip on sorrow, if only for a cascade of seconds, each shorter

than the last. From there I would slide out through the rainy night,

the slick stones, the cold air, and into the almost renewal

of the unit block, the crowded concrete almost romantic

with the sweat of angels. I would stand there

with every unwanted reader, every spirit and ancestor,

until morning and the effort I made to feed my beloved,

her happy crunching, the bread giving way, giving in.

Who could ask for more than to please her

and for the pleasure to be audible, a thickness—I have, you know,

asked for more, asked for health, asked for relief,

I’m God’s greediest little pig and I don’t care, I’ll keep asking

because I’ve heard my child cough, my joy coughs little bullets

& no feeling can survive it, no pride, no shame—let me start again

a-shiver with an image for lovers, a global pinboard, my name

tagged to it. Let me start with being claimed, stamped on, her sweet

possessive growl. Let me start with his body curled next to his mother,

little comma extending the sentence of her, their twinned

breaths. What else darling? What more

can I give you?

The poet Omar Sakr

Omar Sakr is a poet and writer born in Western Sydney to Lebanese and Turkish Muslim migrants. He is the acclaimed author of the novel Son of Sin(Affirm Press, 2022) and three poetry collections, notably The Lost Arabs (University of Queensland Press, 2019), which won the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Award. He was the first Arab-Australian Muslim to win this prestigious award. Omar's poems have been published in English, Arabic, and Spanish, featuring in Poetry Magazine, Poem-a-Dayseries, Prairie SchoonerThe MarginsMiznaPerilCirculo de PoesíaOverlandAustralian Book Review, and Griffith Review, among others. His poetry is anthologised in Border Lines: Poem of Migration(Vintage Knopf), in Best of Australian Poems 2021(Australian Poetry, 2021), the Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry (MUP, 2020), Best Australian Poems 2016 (Black Inc, 2016) and in Contemporary Australian Poetry (Puncher & Wattmann, 2016). His new collection, Non-Essential Work (UQP, 2023), is out now.