February 2020

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Ode to بيروت - by Fatima El Reda (Photo by Rami Kanso).pngPhoto credit: Rami Kanso

Ode to بيروت

By Fatima El Reda

بيروت
you are a poem on the lips of the Mediterranean
you are a ululation in the throat of a childless mother
saying بخاطرك before every moment of departure
that she replays in her mind

بيروت

you are a polaroid captured on the كورنيش

the melancholy dust on a vintage postcard

the beauty of what used to be through the lens of a foreigner

a broken car         collecting dust    taking up space                    just sitting there                  for years

بيروت
you are film stuck in a rusted reel
you are what rain does to rush-hour traffic

Why do you never want to move on?

بيروت
you let them cover your scars with murals
when you know that plastering bullet holes with so many shades of denial
is like trying to tape a gushing cut

for what it’s worth, you are beautiful because of your wounds
not in spite of them

بيروت
you are an orange tree growing in the middle of a sidewalk
you are to be loved from across the street
because your fruit is too bitter for the fasting tongue

بيروت
you are the map of yesterday
an overripe fig that won’t let go of the branch
I swear {و التّين و الزّيتون}
but you are still unconvinced of my love
you ask:
If you love me, why do you leave me?

[no answer]

بيروت
you are the glass shards spreading in every direction
after a bomb explodes on a busy street
you’re a splinter trapped between skin and flesh
we touch this remnant absentmindedly
this built-in reminder of what it means to have loved and lost

we pick up the phone
say الو
you don’t answer

not anymore

بيروت
this was supposed to be an ode
but, one way or another, all my songs to you end up sounding like elegies
even though I speak to you in the present tense
as if you were right before my eyes


Songs & Alice's Wonderland - by Omar Kayyal (Photo by Shadi AlMihmadi).jpgPhoto credit: Shadi AlMihmadi

Songs & Alice’s Wonderland

By Omar Kayyal

Some songs are like the elixirs and biscuits
found strewn about
in Alice’s Wonderland.
They take you into modes of being
with the flick of some switch
within.

You find yourself listening,
seeking,
certain songs
for the way they make you feel:

like an instant giant flowering through
a tardy, myopic rabbit’s roof
making clock arms blurry &
insignificant
Or like a nimble mouse slipping
in a judgy, grimacing doorway too small for
a stubborn spirit.

Sweet, crumbly melodies
you hear play.
You hear bitter slimy castor oil ones
too,
notes accentuating
a swallow
gulped in pain.
Like a sketch artist scratches out a face,
you draw its dense lump
and of what it is made
with each bar and its crashing waves.

These, odysseys of the eardrum
are distinguished by segments
of silence
and
of the music of everyday things.
You flow in and out of these modes of being
and this On and Off of music
creates its own rhythm as well.
Some songs are like the elixirs and biscuits
found strewn about
in Alice’s Wonderland.

Sometimes you flip one on
to remember a certain part of you
and you find you don’t have it anymore.
You’ve defeated the Jabberwocky
and the Queen of Hearts,
and you’re a different person
since you last listened.


A Fortune Wheel - by Farah El Hajjar (Photo by Pawel Szvmanski).jpgPhoto credit: Pawel Szvmanski

A Fortune Wheel

By Farah El Hajjar

You questioned my existence, well my actuality is surreal

Your mind’s eye tells you a lot, contradiction in concepts, mysteries that never end, and artistic abstractions that leave you confused about an imperfect ideal.

Any intervention from me means harm to your senses, dilemma to your absolutes that are definite and real

If I gave you right answers, smart notions and good deals
If I showed you true love
The magic and sparks and how wounds I heal
And if you found content in my eyes & between my arms
If you found ultimate space to run in my heart and in my veins
My physical may fit you once but not sure can fit me
I’m free, I’m the streets, I’m the skies, I’m the valleys and vasts trapped inside

But as the pretentious reality you’re living starts to fade and until you’re shocked with what my honesty reveals

The game you felt challenging and fun before is not but a fortune wheel that spins around everything and says
I’m the black & the white, flashy connections of unadapted smartness, wrong distractions, & eventual failure
And the wound I’ll leave with my hands
I may not be able to seal

I know how you feel now
And how you’ll feel afterwards when your heart I steal

But I swear I don’t mean to hurt you or cause you any intended harm
I’ve tried submergence, I’ve tried suppression
But it’s nothing but my nature, an IDEA.
And I can’t change that, cause I am change

I may be the pain & the scar after I’ve been the medicine
But I can also be revenge and forgiveness at the end
So don’t mind using me to win the game and move on
or live the open ending.


The End of All Things - by Valerie Younes (Photo by JR Korpa).jpgPhoto credit: JR Korpa

The End of All Things

By Valerie Younes

sorrow never skipped a day without calling ecstasy
she was the one to absorb his sadness under the pouring rain
thunder cracked and it was the beginning of life without vain
he never knew that he’ll never be seeing remedy

months were ahead and he searched to find her nearby
little does he know that his little sunshine was sent home
maybe she can heal if she stayed a little longer in her womb
and this was the first time I’ve seen sorrow cry

no one was certain if he burned the path he walked for weeks
but what we knew was that his love for her was eternal
please sorrow don’t come back being nocturnal
her stamped kisses will fade away of your unwashed cheeks

he didn’t like the skin he lived in and decided to tear it apart
it was unbelievable to witness the end of all things
he had promised himself that he’ll die wearing those wedding rings
maybe their fingers will intertwine and stitch his heart

because sorrow was no longer filled with ecstasy ever since she’s gone
her absence took away his breath and left suffocation instead
at that moment he realized that he’s better off dead
one cannot live without sunshine, better bury him before dawn


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