Yahia Lababidi

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Yahia Lababidi (September 25, 1973), Egyptian-American poet, aphorist and essayist, is the author of 6 critically-acclaimed books and has been featured on NPR, Best American Poetry, World Literature Today, On Being with Krista Tippett, The Guardian and Al Jazeera, among many other places.


  • I buried your face, someplace
    by the side of the new road
    so I would not trip over it
    every morning or on evening strolls

    still, I am helplessly drawn
    to the scene of this crime
    for fear of forgetting
    the sum of your splendor

    then there’s also the rain
    that loosens the soil
    to reveal a bewitching feature
    awash with emotion

    an eye, perhaps tender or
    a pale, becalmed cheek
    a mouth tight with reproach or
    lips pursed in a deathless smile

    other times you are inscrutable
    worse, is when I seem to lose you
    and pick at the earth like a scab
    frantic, and faithful, like a dog.

  • One restless dawn, unable to suppress the itch
    of wanderlust, with a heavy door left ajar
    semi-deliberately, and a new light teasing in

    Some piece of immobility will finally quit
    suddenly nimble on wooden limbs
    as fast as a horse, fleeing the stable.

Signposts to Elsewhere (2008)[edit]

Excerpts (aphorisms):

  • A good listener is one who helps us overhear ourselves.
  • With enigmatic clarity, Life gives us a different answer each time we ask her the same question.
  • The thoughts we choose to act upon define us to others, the ones we do not define us to ourselves.
  • Temptation: seeds we are forbidden to water, that are showered with rain.
  • Impulses we attempt to strangle only develop stronger muscles.
  • Ambiguity: the bastard child of creativity and cowardice.
  • Truth can be like a large, bothersome fly – brush it away and it returns buzzing.
  • In life, as in love, graceful leave-taking is the epitome of gratitude.
  • Pleasure may be snatched from life’s clenched fists, not joy
  • Miracles are proud creatures; they will not reveal themselves to those who do not Believe.
  • To be treated with mercy, some must reveal their handicaps, while others must conceal them.
  • To hurry pain is to leave a classroom still in session.
  • To prolong pain is to miss the next lesson.
  • Like cars in an amusement park, our direction is often determined through collisions.
  • The personal made universal is art’s truth.
  • Take two opposites, connect the dots, and you have a straight line.
  • Romantic: one who professes to prefer the thorns to the rose.

"Where Epics Fail: Aphorisms on Art, Morality & Spirit" (2018)[edit]

in The Elephant Journal, Nov 3, 2013
  • Aphorisms respect the wisdom of silence by disturbing it, but briefly.
  • To maintain immaculate speech, often times silence is required.
  • One definition of success might be refining our appetites, while deepening our hunger.
  • Hope is more patient than despair and so outlasts it.

External links[edit]

An Evening with Yahia Lababidi in Austin, Texas (video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSTALhlYUN8

Reverence for the Visible and Invisible Worlds, On Being with Krista Tippett Blog https://onbeing.org/blog/reverence-for-the-visible-and-invisible-worlds/