How to live in a world that is burning (Omar Sakr)

Verity La Heightened Talk

1. there are many kinds of vision.

2. the nurse said getting glasses has been on her to-do list since 2008         It’s a long list but also, the world is burning and what is the point of seeing all the colours fire can become    if it all turns to ash

3. I haven’t figured out how to live          in an unburned world

4. the nurse can’t see distances It is the curse of our lazy, entitled generation she laughs. This is her second shift of the day and it is getting hard to see how not to laugh

5. the older patient beside me can only see distances Between them I hover in the void

6. I am constantly hard here and not just because I suspect the gay couple have been sucking each other off in the showers a fluid exchange of themselves

7. in the void I am envy but I am bled every day anyway    & watching the red river snake out       reminds my body it is alive    & dying

8. how can such a thin tube contain all the countries   in my skin         so many mountains of fire

9. how can the world be burning &                drowning at the same time

10. how can I be burning & drowning at the same time   It is hard to see through all these watery flames

11. the ultimate goal of hardness is to soften   as the ultimate goal of fire   is to change      no matter the cost everything burns                       

12. every moment is designed to answer      the question: who among us is a phoenix?


 Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet and the poetry editor of The Lifted Brow. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Island, Overland, Meanjin, Cordite, Tincture, Mascara Literary Review, Going Down Swinging and Strange Horizons, among others. Anthologised in Best Australian Poems 2016 and Contemporary Australian Poetry, Omar also placed runner-up in the Judith Wright Poetry Prize.   His debut collection, These Wild Houses, is out now with Cordite Books. It will be launched on Friday 10 March at The Alderman in Brunswick.