The Beggars of Beirut

A Poem by Philip Metres

scroll through dumpsters
like daily digital feeds,

translating trash to dinner.
This auntie doles out

packages of napkins,
searching my face

for a smudge of compassion.
She adjusts her hijab,

collapses in shadow
of a highrise naked

of windows. This boy
sells gum—no, a smile

that pleads for keys
to the house

of mercy. That one
extends stubs to a ballet

once featuring her
lissome legs. Today,

she prays aloud for me,
imperturbable god

with the leisure
to ignore the cries.

My lost sisters, my dear
sons, my done uncles

and drained mothers, my
beloved broken

fingers, you tap me
to the spine, column

climbing my clouded
sight, and past, rising

to a place so high
and so far, we can’t be told

or held apart.

Philip Metres
Philip Metres
Philip Metres is the author of ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (2020), which concerns the predicament of Palestine/Israel, and has written about Gaza here. He is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow.





More Story
Chloe Caldwell Reads Her Essay "The Opposite of Light" Storybound is a radio-theater program designed for the podcast age. Hosted by Jude Brewer and with original music composed...