Grade F

A/N: In response to recent awfulness, I felt compelled to write something – anything. This is the result.

Grade F

Dear Women,

what can i say?
what can anyone say?
we’ve failed you.
we fail you everyday.
we fail you at home
we fail you at work
we fail you online
and on the bus, the train, the plane
we fail you everywhere
by staying quiet. by turning away.
i am not speaking for the men
who sneer and stalk, who haunt and harass,
nor for the perpetrators of violence. i am
not speaking for the headline writers
or politicians who skew words
to cast aside blame, to muddy the bloody waters.
no, i will never speak for the men
who have made you prey
who try to make you less
because you are so much more
than they can ever hope to be.
i am speaking instead for myself
and for the men like me,
the educated progressive type
the kind that march for rights
but never enough. the kind
that sees it happening all too often
and doesn’t speak up, or mumbles
instead of roaring. the kind that
might write a harsh letter condemning
the recent violence, only to say nothing
when their mates talk about bitches
and hoes and slut-shame and fat-shame,
doling out shame enough for a whole gender
and missing the mark by two fucking letters.
the margin is that slim
and worlds-wide
and in between lie more bodies
than we can count, and we keep looking
the other way because they happen to wear bras
sometimes, or are called ma sometimes.
It has to stop.
no more hoping and praying for change.
it’s time to make it. time to join in
full-voice, full-throated, full-bodied
and give all we have to give.
no, women do not need me to say sorry
or to say ‘it’s not me, it’s them,’ or ‘not all,
just some men’ — it’s far, far too many
and any class with this kind of fail grade
would have been cancelled a long fucking time ago.
in fact, women have been saying this for ages,
have been diligently, bravely fighting for change,
for recognition and rights, for love and life,
and they will succeed whether I say anything
or not: history has a way of righting its wrongs
that way, but I cannot – will not – sit idly, quietly by
while the carnage continues. i have to join this chorus
this collective outpouring, this long ceaseless shout:


is enough.

The H Word, Featured Poem

I’m stoked to say my poem, ‘The H Word’, has been selected by the always-wonderful Judith Beveridge as the Featured Poem of May on Cordite Poetry Review.

She begins by saying: “There are many levels of identified pain in Omar Sakr’s poem: deprivation, despair, violence, oppression, shame, mortality, the brutal inevitability of loss and disenfranchisement, yet the poem’s interrogation of these issues is often playful and comic, tender and deftly alert to the way language, when used imaginatively, can suddenly make the bottom drop out of preconceived notions.”

You can check it out here, and while you do so, have a look around at the new issue just released today. It was guest edited by Felicity Plunkett, and has many great poems, including an incredibly interesting digital poetry project by Jason Nelson.