Lebanese Poetry

By | 1 July 1998

He came over (to the
counter), ordered a coffee, and asked me
if I was Lebanese (cos he
was) – I said “No” / Greek.
He asked me,
what I was reading and I said “Poetry”.
I asked him,
did he like it, and he said he did.
I asked him,
if he knew a poet called Nazim Hikmet
and he said:
“When did he live?”
I said,
at the turn of the century (in
Turkey) – he spent a lot of time in prison
layed down
a few steps
the bloke, couldn’t say he had
so I asked him
if there were any good poets in Lebanon
and he said “Omar Khayyam”.
I asked him, if the papers (in
Australia) published any poems
and he said, they did
but their meaning (their
meaning) he said, was too BIG (too too
big) and a lot of it
got lost in translation. He said, the poets (in
Lebanon) were very clever; They’d
show-Up at the market, and start
reciting their poems.
One of the poets (for
example) would start reciting a poem
about the NIGHT (say)
i.e. How beautiful it was, with the moon
and all the people walking up’n’down
the esplanade, and so on
while the other (poet)
would take an opposite view: A poem about
the DAYLIGHT (say): The kids (out on
the streets) playing in the gutter
and so on; And this, he said
would go on back’n’forth back’n’forth (all
night) until one of ’em
ran out of things to say (sticking closely
to his chosen subject).
I asked him, if he could
remember one, and he said he could.
He said, he could
remember one about “Horses + shoes”!
One of the poets, he said
started waxing-lyrical, about how the RICH
walk around on plush carpets
and about how the POOR
have to make do with the hole in their shoe
and the audience (and the
audience!) he said, gave him
a tremendous ovation, when he finished
cos they liked him.
Then it was
the other bloke’s turn, he said
and he began reciting a poem about
hundreds of Horsemen
racing towards a red-ribbon on the ground.
He said, all
the Horsemen were lined-Up (behind
the starting line), and when the GUN went-off
the horses-hooves hit the ground
so,ooo,ooo hard
that the whole sky became filled with

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