IWP main site

You are here

Toufic Sarieddine, 'Letter' and 'The Tour'

A Letter

                                                                                                               To be acknowledged on December 22nd, 2012.

 Dear Armageddon:

You’re late. And if you have already come, you’ve failed, and seeing as how the world is still overpopulated, failed miserably. In the tradition I grew up believing, in public fear and private anticipation, the demons that would be the death of me and my ilk have played in my imagination, and the ways I will help them have been planned out boyishly. So where are you, sweetheart? If you haven’t departed from your place of chaos yet, I would like you to bear in mind a few things: The first is that not all of us feel the same thrill to kill, only those of us called Republicans, so make sure your demons seek them out first, and you shall have my drumsticks, and I the banging at your side. Second, make sure to get a video of the Queen of England shrieking. For it is this that our first post-apocalyptic YouTube hit will be. A snapshot, though not as easily spread, is also adequate, in the absence of the centurial shrill the Queen’s first scream would be. On a note of appearance, do recruit your slenderest demons, for they will not be greeted by the hateful focus of self-defense, but in the hateful focus of sheer jealousy. Oh, and on that note, make them have visible six-pack abs as well. Third, I myself am completely on your side, but not at your disposal, for if you kill me—which would be a very tedious task, I assure you—you will lose perhaps the only drummer on post-Armageddon Earth. Those cockroaches need something to entertain them through evolution, as well as musically stimulate them. Get a move on.

Safe travels, 


P.S.: May I suggest the following: Homosexuals left alone would be a delay, but an almost-certain end to the human race. Dwell on that for economically selective slaughter. 


The Tour                                                                                                 

With my sunglasses on, everything will have a purple tint. Good. The mood is optimistic yet wary of the swelter to come; we're wetting our brows and mustering the Arab in some of us out to seek dates and shade.  I am next to Ziad, who is sporting an unpredictably mainstream-looking cap. Downtown seems to have absorbed the relics beneath it, like a plant, acquiring an archaic texture to complement its modernity, for if I lend a blind eye to the wares on display and the (in theory) magnetic ‘SALE’ stickers, I find it easy to think the shops medieval apothecaries and charm-sellers in an Arab bazaar, boasting the best items an enchanter can acquire--‘Half-price on tongues!’ and all that jazz…  

Above the shops, windows; each window witness and entrance to a different life, a different story: Nouveau-riche, heir/heiress, lucky bastard, a really good thief, or--and I’m sure this is the minority--a high-paid hard worker. We move. Accursed sun, I won’t flatter you with any fancy original prose, so just fuck off. Sale sale sale, shop shop shop, money money money, the souks seem to be the destination of a pilgrimage of consumerism; that is, after Hamra Street has been passed. 

Oh goodness, the swelter starts; breeze save me this morning! Our host stands in waiting, next to an old monument. He himself looks to be an old monument, until the further stripping of the second half of that title. He, like an old monument, has an air of refined antiquity about him, complete with quintessential shades of brown--his suit and its appropriate accompaniment.  Seven times destroyed, seven times rebuilt, I must say, I’m proud of the endurance but ashamed of the strength… 

Unearthed, and crafted for the Haves, jewels are on display, treating our passing eyes to a bedazzle of bedazzle.  Our host shows us a scaled-down downtown--a businessman’s view, with no people around to oppose anything. I can do whatever the fuck I please to this downtown. Structural functionalism thrills me in this air-conditioned room. Appropriate. Plans and plans, businessmen in a measuring contest; each skyscraper an erection taller than the rest, “Behold my manliness!” Many tanned workers at work and in sweat around us; boiled, fulfilling, erections. I wonder who is doing more work, they or their hirer. 

Our host’s accent fails to filter out his confidence, but I hope real tourists don’t get as bored as I am. Everything seems duplicated. Mass production for mass consumption and (again) all that jazz… The wind carries the cool as well as the freed tobacco whiff of a far-off laborer, clutching his worries in one hand, a piece of beaten spirit in the other. I cough, happy to have shared his unhappiness.  The wind makes me wish I had straight hair, how very picturesque that would be… 

On the bus it's cool, no walking in its short-lived fourfold. Ah the sea. Crumpled sheath of blue infinity stretched out to a universal horizon--the horizon we all know. As it was the mother of the word ‘flow’, it does so ideally, and so beautifully. I will pretend it  isn’t being slowly poisoned, and enjoy. The sea and wind brush against each other playfully, like lovers, giving birth to a mass of waves, forever in constant birth and death, rise and fall, ebb and flow. The tsunami safety measures manifested behind me a series of semi-circular structures, leaving the sea in the back wrathfully writhing in containment. It yells in anger and strong splashing, echoing its oath for revenge at those summoned to weaken that revenge. Legions of rising and falling tents of water before me, camping toward conquest? No, containment. They find a dark end to their ocean-long journey on pathetic, mutilated earth. No more to be greeted by the soft sands and grateful bodily pulses of a simpler time.     

Our tour guide carries a comb and has disciplined his hair thrice per bus trip for a total of twelve brushings. I weigh what word/words to accompany this with: Cute vs. Classy vs. Preserving of the hair time spared him. 

‘Tis midday in midsummer, at the economic center of the economic center of Lebanon. A precise working formula for intrigue and swelter. The Roman baths are beneath us now--History, brown and crumbling. And now I end this, upon further scribbling.     


About This Gallery

The IWP Publishing Gallery hosts collections of new work curated by our colleagues worldwide.


Writing University

MFA in Literary Translation  (University of Iowa)

The Iowa Review


Drupal theme by pixeljets.com D7 ver.1.1