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 has written numerous books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon). Winner of Guggenheim, Lannan, and NEA fellowships, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.

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