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Photo of the Port of Beirut, taken by Ibrahim Mater, June 2021




I ate frog legs for the first time


at a restaurant in the Port of Beirut in 1969


when the country was a half-decade away


from its descent into civil war.



Paris of the East


you were my home


for a while at least


at a time when the region knew no other Rome.



I am reminded of the frogs leg dish


(legs slathered in cilantro and garlic)


consumed at a juncture when one could reasonably wish


that all the world would like


this place for its tolerance and diversity.



Four decades on, the Lebanese have been witness


to an explosion


of historical proportion


in the Port of Beirut


a tragic metaphor for the corrosion


to which this small but great country


has succumbed.



Lebanon is a case-study


of how a place


adorned with beauty, harmony and grace


can lose its face


to the demons of groupism.



Where, my belonging,  


who I am


Is more important


than what I am


and how I am


and what I want to be.



Where one’s identity


Is a registry


for entitlement


and employment


and ill-begotten riches.



In Lebanon, the politics of identity


have endangered the viability


of its nation


putting at peril


all that people hold dear.



That Lebanon’s plight


be not lost in the night,


that the country may


again find its way


and show others how they also can.

(January 2022)

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Frog Legs



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