Antony Fangary

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Ke-neen Ke-a-ee Ke-is-touse E-onas ton E-onon. Amem.
When my dad left I knew I had to protect Ma’ma
I didn’t know if I trusted God enough yet
So I climbed up the to the top shelf in the closet
Grabbed his Berretta .22 and ran to my room

 

Tear the handwriting
Of our sins
O, Christ our God


I think it may have been the first time I felt adrenaline 
There I was
Alone with my dad’s gun 
The only trace of him I had left 
Holding the weight of what it means to be a man in my eight-year-old hand
Shooting invisible bad guys in the dark

 

Save us 
I cried to the Lord 
And he heard me  

Something about the click of the hammer seemed wise 

So I studied its character 
I was the man of the house 
With the 7 bullet magazine 
Wooden panel grips 
And tip up barrel 
The gun was small, 
And fit my hand perfectly 
Like something outta King Arthur

 

God who was nailed 
To the cross  killed 
Sin by the tree


I pointed it at the right side of my head
Pretended to be the Captain at the end of titanic who put a bullet through his right temple as the boat sank
I pulled the trigger 
 But it was a different click this time 
It was hesitant 

 

By your death you
Made alive a dead man 
Whom you created 
With your hand


And when I put the gun down to see why 
It fired
Taking dominion of everything in the room like my dad would when he yelled
The window shook 
The lamp rang 
And the room reeked of gunpowder 

 

Put to death our pains 
by the nails with which 
you were nailed

 

It was just a popgun from the Ice Cream Man, Ma’ma…
 I’m sorry… go back to sleep



I put the .22 in a shoebox under my bed
 But I couldn’t sleep from the adrenaline 

So I lay

Breathing in gunpowder and fear of god

 

 

The Fairest Faith 


I asked Abuna about boys in other places
In the middle of confession
I asked him if a boy born Muslim would burn in hell
He told me that if the boy dies as a boy
He will have a place in heaven with Christ
But if he dies a man
Having encountered Christ
and remains Muslim 
he will burn
“But what if he is a good man, Abuna?
What if he is a good dad and a good husband, Abuna?”
 “If he is a good man,
Christ will find his way into his life before he dies.”

 

Holy, Holy, Holy
Oh Holy Trinity
Have mercy upon us

In class
I would hold onto the ivory Coptic cross Abuna Binyameen gave me at the monastery 
when he warned me about my mother.

I wiped my tears
He told me I was a good boy, and to squeeze the cross if I ever need God.

 

When I cry out,
 God of my right-
eouness heard me

I went on a retreat with some of the monks to the mountains 
We prayed the hours in Agpeya every morning and every evening
Ate Orban after Ashayah   
woke up at dawn for the Divine Liturgy

 

Oh Lord, do
 not rebuke me
in your anger 

as symbols clashed and the triangles mingled with with the smoke during the Prayer of the Veil
I saw Our Lord and Savior appear 
His eyes rolling up to thorned crown of smoke
My eyes following
until I collapsed to the sight of sacrifice

How long, O Lord,
do you forget me

It was my fault his side bled water

Keep me 
O Lord, to you
O Lord, I have
Lifted up my soul 

I felt the shame the bible told me about as I rubbed my starving stomach that night
And worried about my mother

 

The lord is my light
 and my salvation
 God shall pity us 

When I was in class a white girl asked me about the cross Abuna gave me
I smiled and told her it was a Coptic cross 
“what denomination is your family? I’m Coptic Orthodox.” 
I was excited to meet another believer 
“There is only one true Christianity” 
she walked away and the doubts curled
my faith was dirty 
was brown

O God, be
 mindful to my help
the Lord is he
 who shepherds me
I will exalt you, O Lord

I was tired of being hungry
and started stealing
knowing in the back of my mind I could always repent before death like one of the thieves that died next to Christ 

 

Judge me O Lord, 
Have mercy upon
 me O God,


Gidu knew I wasn’t coptic anymore 
I stopped saying goodnight to God before I slept and 
telling Abuna Gawargious about my sins on Wednesdays

 

Incline Your ear,
 O lord, He who 
dwells in the help 
of the most high

 

 

The Holy Hymns were fleeting from my consciousness   
And the taste of Orban was leaving my memory along with the fear of God.
I kept sinning


The Lord reigned
The Lord said to my Lord
I loved because the
 Lord will hear the voice

 

One Palm Sunday I went to church. 
I wore a palm-folded cross on my shirt and Gidu pointed at me in front of my mom
“Shoofie, Hanafie! He is a Christian now.”
Gidu looked down after he said that and I felt like I began mirroring his eyes

 

I believe therefore 
I have spoken
Out the depths I have cried to you

 

I started to hate God. I felt betrayed, like a child. I resented the Abunas.

 

O Lord I have cried to You,
 hear me. Praise the Lord

Who was going watch after my me and my mom?
Gidu told me when I was thirteen that she might hurt herself if I got in trouble
And for some reason I had to test it.

O my soul
Let my supplication
 come near before You

Palm Sunday, 2016

Ednin              

                                                        Abuna blessed Coptic deaths
                                                 ethereal
                                          forever
                                   God has intent 
                            Justifying killed lovers
 
                                                                             Masr needs options
                                                 protest quietly
                                                                      rigiously
                                   Synthesize tragedy unsteadily

                            Without X-ing
              Yawning zeal 

Bakhour

buying blunts, at Bread and Butter 
Backwoods specifically

       I ask, Ezayak?

when I see the man has the same eyebrows as me

                                                                                           he replies Keifa Halak?
I don’t know how to respond 
 so the conversation stales 
                                                                                 then he asked where I’m from

Enna Masri, my family is from Asyute and Tatalayah,

                                                                                      HAHA! You are Saiidiiiihh!  

                                                                                                                he laughed

                                            Do you need help finding your way back home, Saidi?

I didn't





       I peeled the skin off the backwood
rewrapped it
rubbed the tip with a flame
       then called my father 
              to ask what the man meant
                                                               Saidi means you’re ignorant
                                                                      A peasant from upper egypt 



 the smoke curled
                            from the cherry and seams
                          like snake skin staling 
                                                                              Then he told me a joke 



                                                    On a dirt road leading to a saidi village, there was a hole
                     Now, everyone in the village was breaking their ankles and falling in the hole
                     So three of the village elders got together in an attempt to solve the problem: 

                     The first elder suggested that they should convince the near by city to donate
                                                                              an ambulance next to the hole
                 So when people fall, they can be driven to the hospital right away

The second elder said that was a horrible idea and that they should just have the city build a
                            hospital by the hole, so when people fall in the hole they are already by a hospital

The third elder said that those were both horrible ideas, and that the solution was simple: they fill
                         the hole with dirt, smooth it out, and dig a new hole for people to fall into, 
                                                                             next to the hospital they already had




I asked my dad if he thought we were really 
                                                                      that dumb
                                                                             that dependent… 

                                                                                                         He laughed, and said 


                                                                             Most of us can’t read
                                                                                    don’t have electricity 
                                                                                           but we are a strong people
                                                                                                                              Be proud



the blunt burned to stale ash 
       snake skin crusting off
                            my tongue with each pull

       I asked my dad why he is proud of being saidi,
But ashamed we weren’t white

                                                                                    he said we aren’t in egypt anymore  
                                                                                        and it would give us a better life
       I breathed in the last bit of skin

                                                               thanked him

 

Antony Fangary

Antony Fangary is a Coptic-Egyptian American who lives in San Francisco. He is an MFA student of Poetry at San Francisco State University and was the Honorable Mention recipient of the 2015 State-wide Ina Coolbrith Poetry Prize. You can also find his work in 2017 edition of Welter, Waccamaw, Left-Hooks, and University of Iowa's BARS.

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