Two Poems from Omar Sakr

3 March, 2024
“How to be a Son,” and “A Beautiful Child” are poems are from Omar Sakr’s collection, The Lost Arabs (UQP). “Visceral and energetic, Omar Sakr’s poetry confronts notions of identity and belonging head-on. Braiding together sexuality and divinity, conflict and redemption, The Lost Arabs is a seething, urgent collection from a distinctive new voice.”


Omar Sakr


Two poems from The Lost Arabs.


How to be a son


My father was for the longest time
a plastic smile locked under the bed.
Before that, he was whatever came
out of my mother’s mouth. He was
I’ll tell you when you’re older. He was winding smoke,
a secret name. That fucking Turk.
He was foreign word, distant country.
I gave myself up to her hands which also
fathered; they shaped me into flinch.
Into hesitant crouch, expectant bruise.
Into locked door, CIA black site-
my body unknown and denied to any
but the basest men. I said beat my father
into me please, but he couldn’t be found.
And when he was, I wished he remained
lost. He blamed himself for the men I want.
A father can negate any need he thinks
they are the sum of all desires he thinks
absence has a gender. Listen.
You can’t backdate love, it destroys
history, which is all that I have & so
like any man, want to abandon.
In the absence of time I will invent
roses, a lineage beyond geography,
then all manner of gorgeous people
who rove in desert and olive grove,
in wet kingdoms, on the hunt for villages
where a boy can love a boy & still be
called son


The Lost Arabs by Omar Sakr, is published By UQP.


A Beautiful Child

after Jericho Brown


You are not as tired of diaspora
poetry as I am of the diaspora. Sometimes

I thank God that I was born inside an American
-made tank. Sometimes I weep within

the beast. My uncle works on the railroads
and goes home to his nuclear family loathing

my queerness from afar. He and I tend
our silence, a beautiful child

until it speaks.Another uncle is a guard
with two ex-wives and a secret love

of comic books. Tragedy made him the head
of his family too soon. Don’t weep for your dad

he said, weep for me. ‘You didn’t know him
like I did.’ I have a third uncle, a mechanic

who visits his home in Lebanon every year
& now I must admit English has failed me.

I should say kholo, my mother’s brother.
I should say umja, my father’s brother

so you know which branch of the tree to cut-or
cherish. My uncles are doused in industry, good sons

of the State. They get on with what needs
getting on. Language is their least favorite

daughter. They use their mouths for breath
and do their best to forget the world

outside. I think they love where they come
from but in truth, I have never heard them

say so, except to mutter they do not want
to pay taxes in two countries come on

one is killing them already &
isn’t that enough


Omar Sakr is the son of Arab and Turkish Muslim migrants. He is the author of three poetry collections, including The Lost Arabs (UQP), which won the 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry, and a novel, Son of Sin (Affirm Press, 2022). In 2023, he was awarded the Bess Hokin Prize by Poetry Magazine. His latest book is Non-Essential Work. He lives on Dharug land, where he was born and raised.

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