In the latest issue:

Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The House of York

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Egypt AngelFrederick Seidel
Close
Close

I’m not on your side, whichever side you’re on.
My enthusiasm for Nasser is long gone.
Hail, Hosni Mubarak, and farewell!
There’s the old dictator dolt
On TV, a contraption of dyed hair and hair gel.
Angels in revolt
Fill Tahrir Square. The angel Gabriel blows his horn
To announce to the reborn, You’ve been born!
And Koranically commands, Recite!
Here are the things that are right!
Day after day of secular celebration turns into night.
Not too many people are killed.
People are thrilled.

I’m your fat King Farouk,
Quacking poetry till I puke.
I’m president and premier and sultan and emir –
Prime minister and Sadat –
And oh my God he’s been shot!
I do nothing but think about you, dear.
I think about you a lot.
I revere
The crypto-philo-Semite, Anwar Sadat,
And what he did, and in consequence the death he got.
The third president of Egypt agreed to put up with Israel.
He slithered through the Arabs like an eel.
It did not go down well.

The West oinked for oil and said please.
The Western nations hung out backstage like groupies.
They barked to be fed, like a seal.
They stole anything they could steal.
Anwar Sadat screwed the light bulb of love into the socket
Out loud in the dark in the middle of the night.
Floaters swim by in my eye in the light.
Darling, don’t doubt me, don’t knock it.
I fold a linen handkerchief to make three points
To fountain whitely towards you from my breast pocket.
Point 1. My cornea detaches.
Point 2. I have galloping myopia.
Point 3. My cataracts won’t let me look at you.

It’s lenticular astigmatism.
It’s macular degeneration.
A rainbow coalition of coition ejaculates
A colourblind wine jelly of jism
And every radical ism.
White Europeans conceived these wretched Arab states,
Now fictively becoming democrats.
The breeze blows the blue of the sea
Inland from Tripoli.
Meet me in Tahrir Square.
Righty-o, I’ll meet you there.
Your Nile-green eyes gaze up at me from the pillow.
Baby, you’re my crocodile Nile. You’re my Cairo.

Tahrir Square is twirling like a dervish, spinning like a top.
In Tahrir Square tear gas canisters pop.
My crocodile angel joins the demonstrators outside her shop.
The tornado funnels into focus from a censored blur.
The military clears a path for her.
Democracy is in the vicinity
Of Nefertiti.
We’ll meet in Tahrir Square.
Every angel has gathered there,
Including my own angel, wings of Isis flapping.
Bandages are unwrapping
The royal mummy, who’s been napping, but opens her charms.
My Egypt angel wraps me in her arms.

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