Ashraf Fayadh

Sentenced to 800 lashes.

Poets are swimmers, like mackerel

in a gulf of language.

Maybe you can swim through some

Suras, but you can’t swim through the Word.

The Word is not a reed flute

waiting to be filled with your breath.

Hey, No need

to keep swimming, you’ve got the Word,

dull, toneless, and full.

Poets are hungry, looking

for other mackerel to eat,

for water to drink,

new water to swim through.

Poetry doesn’t need martyrs,

but it can swallow its dead

and keep swimming.

Ashraf Fayadh’s father died

when he heard his son’s sentence.

Now Ashraf swims

in a boiling sea.

Written by Henry Bell.

Published in Henry's collection, The Last Lochan, Speculative Books, Glasgow, 2020. Available from

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