From Iceland — A Poem About Kebab

A Poem About Kebab

Published September 14, 2015

A Poem About Kebab
Photo by
Steingrímur Gauti Ingólfsson

is this your moaning dog, sorry, no pets, is this your bag, your children, is this your weakness, your hunger, your drowning, and have you brought any items worth more than $1000, any alcohol or tobacco, any misrepresentations of your culture, any misconceptions about ours, have you brought any prejudice, any oppression, have you brought fascism, PTSD, dyslexia, religion and/or technical prowess, have you brought entrepreneurship, MSG, AIDS or artistic talent, uncooked meats (discounting dead children), exotic fruit or fruitlike substances, is this your meal ticket, your passport, is this your outlook, your perspective, your pessimistic nature, and how good is your kebab;

will there be people coming after you, talentless kin or secret police, dirty scoundrels or pretty ladies of desperation, and when will you return, will there come others worth less or more, in cash, love, adoration, others with more baggage, heavier loads, carrying still others with even heavier loads, handicapped zealots and canned foods, unmarked medicine which might as well be heroin, unmarked citizens who might as well be terrorists, pimps, bearers of bad news and rabies, babies without baby-daddies, babies with gender issues and subliminal war trauma, complicated futures, who may or may not become transgressive artists and may or may not make us proud, but they better make good kebab;

is this your mode of transportation, is this your buggy, your barge, your ornithopter, your sandals to remind us of christ, your deep brown eyes, olive skin, are these your common features, hordes, herds, are these your trampling feet, these your gigabytes floating overhead, these your smartphones (you can’t have smartphones), are these your drones or our drones, have you brought any disheartening priorities or policies in your buggy, any unfortunate consequences of preventable causes in your barge, have you brought any sense of responsibility for your own situation in your ornithopter, and I can have some kebab, yes, mit scharfer Soße;

is this your benefit concert and if so have you brought any instruments, are you carrying any tunes, any appropriate melancholies, malappropriate melodies, and would you care to share in our bountiful cocaine, in any case there’s a backstage and a VIP backstage and refugee status will grant you access to both, here have some beer tickets, there will be, you know, food, we know you’re hungry, but we may just have run out of kebab;

Steingrimur Gauti

is this an automatic reminder about the compassion you have for the downtrodden, exiled and drowned; an automatic reminder about the children at the bottom of the Mediterranean, the children midway sinking or floating upwards, the children heading for shore, gasping, or playing in the sand, panting, the children face down on facebook, seen not heard, shown not told, is this your automatic reminder about grains of sand, drops of ocean, herds, hordes, schools, locusts, poverty, values, sacrifice and the sky, the mighty, mighty sky and lest we forget, kebab;

is this perhaps your conscientious lasso, your way of asking have we not already surpassed our humanity, wrangled our collective bosoms into a tidal wave of social media hugs, is not all better already and if not then soon(ish) yes, you will stop sobbing and start making kebab;

is this your tasteful image management and if it does not preclude actually helping, we may in the future once more engage your vanity and your proclivity for conga lines (monkey say, monkey do) in the service of good, and then perhaps with less cynicism, less disdain, more sincerity, more pure-hearted love and unfathomable loads of kebab;

is this your bi-annual investment in a better soul, another rung for the ladder, or just something to keep you occupied on a tuesday, beats the dishes, beats homework, beats worrying about dinner, beats moaning about compassion for others, is this not actually doing something or is it merely virtually doing something, is there less or more there here, less here there, any more beer near, I swear, I’d give my döner for a kebab;

do you promise to like us and like-like us and be like us and not just up and go when you don’t need to like us, or anyone like us, we really want you to like us, do you promise not to complain, protest, riot, do you promise diligence, allegiance, like us, you won’t go back and you won’t behead anyone like us, you won’t just stay on welfare like us, you will turn out to be worth it in the long run, like us, unlike us, for the bottom line, this is the bottom line, yes finally the bottom line, if you leave we’ll have no kebab, please like us, that is the bottom line.

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl (1978) is a writer and a novelist from Ísafjörður, Iceland. He has a novel coming out this fall, it’s called ‘Heimska’ (“Stupidity”). Learn more about his work at

Steingrímur Gauti Ingólfsson (1986) is an artist from Reykjavík. Learn more about his work at

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Calling All The Muses

Calling All The Muses


Show Me More!