Yahia Lababidi

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Yahia Lababidi (born 1973) is an Egyptian aphorist and Pushcart-nominated poet with work appearing in such publications as World Literature Today, Cimarron Review, AGNI, Hotel Amerika, Rain Taxi and Philosophy Now. His first book, Signposts to Elsewhere (Jane Street Press) was selected as a Book of the Year, 2008, by The Independent (UK). His latest works are, "Trial by Ink: From Nietzsche to Belly Dancing" a collection of literary and cultural essays, as well as "Fever Dreams" a poetry collection from Crisis Chronicles Press. To date, Lababidi’s writing has been translated into Arabic, Slovak, Italian, Dutch, Swedish and Turkish.

Otherwise, his work appears in several anthologies, including: Geary’s Guide to the World's Great Aphorists as well as the best-selling US college textbook, Literature: an Introduction to Reading and Writing (10th edition). Lababidi was chosen as a Juror for the 2012 Neustadt Prize (a biannual award widely considered the most prestigious international literary prize after the Nobel Prize in Literature).


  • 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.

"Aphorisms on Art, Morality & Spirit" (2013)[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]