Ya Kharabi, a poem by Antony Fangary

Poetry | Antony Fangary

When God left indefinitely
I had a MAC-10
A few hundred tabs of acid
And a picture of Amba Karras
Hanging on my bedroom wall

I wasn’t worried about hell
I felt like I had been burning
Since boyhood
And every morning I woke
closer to the core

My cousins made it to heaven in the eyes of our Grandfather
Gidu was proud of them.
He would point to them on the altar during liturgy…

Leh? Leh ya welid?
Inta mish eyesa Messiah?
(sigh) Yuh Harram…

They were better than me
They were deacons at one point…
Peter fasted every fast
In his car, a Coptic cross would dangle
He prayed at all the canonical hours
Mastered the triangle and hymns.
Josh got a Coptic cross tattooed on his wrist when we were 14
His mom walked in the garage before I was able to get mine done
In Egypt Coptic crosses are tattooed on our wrists
To stain us as different from the other Egyptians
But we wanted the tattoos for bragging rights

It has been years since I’ve visited the monastery in Death Valley
Where my mother would leave me with the Monks
I would confess my transgressions until tears would erupt
A Coptic Cross would slap my wrist after confession was over
I would open my eyes to Abuna smiling
He would hug me and tell me everything would be okay

And in 2008
Peaking off 5 grams off mushrooms
And a few hits of acid
Each of the grandchildren
So far away from god
So far away from the monks
Passing blunts and subtle gazes around a fire

I wondered if the acid that burned my grandmother’s shoulder in Egypt was any
different than the acid burning my brain

While the flames swamped my focus with a static heat
I asked Peter if he still confessed
I’m not sure why
But I cried when he didn’t respond
The flames flashed images of
The saints I learned about as a boy
With Abuna Binyameen and Amba Karras

It all burned to ash
All of it
To fucking ash
And the tears soaked my eyelashes as I stared at the fire
Mimicking all the portraits that scared me as a child

Holy! Holy! Holy!

I looked to my cousin from across the fire
I told him I don’t believe in God anymore
And I cried louder

He smiled like Abuna
It’s all mythology anyways


Antony Fangary is a Coptic-Egyptian American who lives in San Francisco. He is a MFA student of Poetry at San Francisco State University and was the Honorable Mention recipient of the 2015 State-wide Ina Coolbrith Poetry Prize.

Image Credit: Coptic Christian Mummy, 2nd Century. (Fayum, Portrait of a Boy). National Museum of Warsaw.