Saturday, April 5, 2008

"New Cairo" by Matthew Shenoda

Matthew Shenoda is a Coptic poet who, in his words, is "devoted to using art for social change." I first met the gregarious Shenoda in person at this year's AWP, after having read a bit of his work and hearing about the recent awards for his first book, Somewhere Else (2005). He also happens to be the featured poet at the RAWI (Radius of Arab American Writers) site right now, and I came across this little gem.

"New Cairo" by Matthew Shenoda

The furniture still smells the same.
The street echoes
voices of peddlers,
the marketplace.
The basket hangs off the railing
they use it to pull up corn, bought
from a passerby.

I stand on the balcony, staring
withdrawn from this poverty by a mere generation
then I remember:

Great-Grandmother used to say,
“If you throw salt away
God will make you
pick it up
one grain at a time
with your eyelashes”

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