Sabrina Mahfouz

Prometheus, Woman.


In this prison they have pigeons to peck my toes every night.

Blanket me with crumbs every evening, 7pm, lights out.

Pigeons cooped, starved, they swoop.
I convulse all crumbs down my torso to fall at my shackled feet.

Guards know what I did, you do too, do you?
Likely agree a place like this exists for people
like me to learn a lesson.

My little toe pecked to the bone
but I have his face to recall, aneasthetic image
of that shock, horror, joy when he saw what I held.

I could have said no. No fire for all you wastemen out there
wishing to burn yourselves to brilliance, I’ll keep it in me
where it has glown centuries, peacefully. But I am no v-sign.

Tears spared for the children, always. But not you. I knew.
Your life was not worth the years of shivering.
You’d do anything to keep this warmth to yourself,
for crisp meat to melt, for wolves to whimper.

Take us to the edges of everything!
Your throat unthawed now by my heat.
You shout as if you’re vomiting a riverbed.
You kill things you have never seen.

I knew you would push the flames,
firstly send their tips unwillingly
but then realise – all they ever needed
was the slightest promise and off they’d surge.

And now look at the havoc look at the hubris
look at the horror look at the hell look at
the fucking hassle you’ve caused for us all.
Pigeons may peck at me for what I knew,
for giving it to you when I knew, I knew
but who will carve you up for what you’ve done?


Pathetic practicalities you sat them down in delusion
as if this is invention as if this is progress
did you never slice a stone in half?
What use are toes when there is no water left
to wash them in you imbeciles?
You believe you did the best you could with a gift
that came unboxed with no instructions no receipt
the best you could do would have been to retreat.
To admit this was way beyond your pay grade
to say you know what these flames are hot
they’re fucking hot as fuck and I’d love to fuck with them
but I won’t because I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing
I mean generally so you keep them, you keep them
and let us know when you think we’re ready
and then I’d have thought maybe you were worth saving after all
I’d have done exactly that, let you grow a bit more, develop those
blunt skills unsharperned by the luxury of warmth or light
and I’d have decided when the time was right and don’t you get it
yet it wasn’t my decision to make. You stood there and you asked
and you were kind with your eyes half closed and I’m a bad bitch
but I fell for it, I thought maybe this is it, our turn to set the world
alight and what do I know anyway I’ve only ever been a half god
nobody tells a half god anything, sitting on the outskirts of all the
circles don’t you think I made my own shapes you think you created
them are you out of your mind??? Of course you are, inhaled too
much smoke exhaled no ego and now you think
I know who to hold here for eternity to be nibbled at
but you forget you mortals forget

THERE IS NO ETERNITY because you have fucking burnt it,
even Olympus is flammable and I was not at the AGM
which mentioned what happens when eternity is over
so you can sit me here as birdseed for however many small years
we have left but I have nothing left to give you.

I have nothing left to give you, man.


Sabrina Mahfouz is a playwright, poet, screenwriter and performer who has recently been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and is the recipient of the 2018 King’s Alumni Arts & Culture Award for inspiring change in the industry. She has been shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Award for Performance Poetry and has won a Sky Arts Academy Award for Poetry, a Westminster Prize for New Playwrights and a Fringe First Award.