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Aug 30, 2017 | 0 comments

Dispatches From the Backseat of the Last Honest Service Taxi in Beirut

“Hermit in the Desert,” oil on canvas, by Alessandro Magnasco, c. 1740.

by Sara Saab

after Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

From Hamra to Bliss St, we’ll list the loves we’ve thrown in the sea—
tree-trunks oozing national blood, sunsets in the Imperial direction,
stonefruit split on teeth, that bob-throat gush

The seatbelt doesn’t work, don’t bother.

From Jounieh to Zahle we’ll tell you what we loathe—
Palestinians for the civil war
Syrians because we have no jobs
Israelis with our marrow
Each other.

You who blink free of the wounded airport wreathed in broken symbols,
You of the wrong voice, the wrong sex, we will show you
around:

Ehden Jeita Baalbek, half-day tours, houses teetering from war,
from inheritance disputes, and forced to cradle life, the corrugated
roofs and lungs of Dahieh, the smell of rot and brick ovens

Take this our mobile number. We’re the spice of this land.

Give us this mad search of your face, we remember where we hid
the Kalashnikovs, our jittering brown green Syriac blue eyes
know you know about the guns. The beads
on our brow are strung for prayer; we can tell
religion from the pheromones,
yours too,
though you disavow it

This highway is backed up to Dbayieh. God help us.

We swear we have never done a thing
for our own good. Here’s a roster of our best hustles
up and down this parched city that never learned to molt
Devastation.
Here’s a story of the war;

Here’s how we met our wives
Here’s how she is a woman
How we are men.

We are men.
We are Maronites Shi’ites Druze Sunnis Catholics
We are generous and we are generous at
hate,

tell us, what are you?

carriage.2

Sara Saab was born in Beirut, Lebanon. She now lives in North London, where she has perfected her resting London face. Her current interests are croissants and emojis thereof, amassing poetry collections, deadlifts, and coming up with a plausible reason to live on a sleeper train. Sara’s a 2015 graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. You can find her on Twitter as @fortnightlysara and at fortnightlysara.com.

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