National Poetry Month Day 25: Fady Joudah






Lullaby in Echo

Our ancestors didn’t get everything right and died 
like several of their dotted letters 
and many declensions.
What they slanged we pidgin, 
their lilliputian remains
string our present along our future’s feathers:
vane and calamitous, a history to weather,
they laid it on thick 
and stabbed heavy 
before they left us to us—
to alter them as mutation or idea,
cell or organelle, 
strip or particle, 
rock, paper, metal.
I swear by the genius phone 
that what they did to the living
doesn’t match our binge.
They who revolted more than twice
kept their previous wives and multiple wings
and mistook justice for revenge…
though love after a point abandons reprimand.
They chiseled ore so that we may cement, 
paved roads so that we may asphalt,
we guardians of children, 
their apps and animations and kindergartens.
Dear daughter, when I was young 
we had what had not been.
Dear daughter, I placed some of my heart
in you—no one’s ever lost who neighbors the dark. 
And prophets spoke of kindness 
up to the seventh neighbor seven floors
up or down from where you happen to be 
in a skyscraper. Our ancestors who removed harm 
off the roads their enemies took to them,
who microscoped the telescope 
and telescoped the micron. 
We printed what they sequenced
and drifted in replication. 



Author photo courtesy of author

Fady Joudah has published five collections of poems: The Earth in the Attic; Alight; Textu, a book-long sequence of short poems whose meter is based on cellphone character count; Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance; and, most recently, Tethered to Stars. He has translated several collections of poetry from the Arabic and is the co-editor and co-founder of the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. He was a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007 and has received the Arab American Book Award, a PEN award, a Banipal/Times Literary Supplement prize from the UK, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is an Editor-at-Large for Milkweed Editions. He lives in Houston, with his wife and kids, where he practices internal medicine. More from this author →