October 2020

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Photo credit: Elia Pellegrini

Where is Ground?

By Jana Bou Matar

I am trapped.

Trapped inside.

I can smell my bones.

Do bones smell?

Frigid.

They smell sharp and blue. Crunchy.

Like a crisp current. Like an invasive laser light.

Get me out of my body.

I can’t move.

The wall is as white as the sea.

I see myself drowning but not quite.

Water is down. Sky is up.

Sky is down. Water is up.

Where is ground? Where is ground?

Breathe. Breathe.

I’m so heavy.

I’m a heavy mass to this galaxy.

As heavy as sun.

I attract matter inside of me.

Matter free falls and disappears.

Vanishes into me.

First. My bed. My book. The light. The ceiling.

They sink.

Inescapably.

With gravitational pull.

Floor is down. Ceiling is up.

Ceiling is down. Floor is up.

Where is water?

Free falling units.

Units of reality.

Distorted.

I’m tanning to a very cold sun.

Love me, I tell her.

She remains Indifferent.

I expose myself to her, like an awkward sunflower.

She remains.

I lost my body.

Leg is down. Head is up.

Head is down. Leg is up.

Am I the sum of them or am I and them one?

I’m lost.

I drown. I come out.

I drown. I come out. Suffocating. 

Get me out of my body.


Photo credit: Syarafina Yusof

We Cannot Love If We Judge

By Insaf

Excuse me: « Ah sorry, this is the word that you didn’t even allow me to say »

I’m not white, but you can hear my voice

I’m not white, but you can feel the maze inside me

Calling for love, peace and Justice

But still teach black skins how to protect their blood from white ones

Questioning my mom’s Fault that she birthed?

Yes, I still remember her words for my father when she said “I cannot save him from the darkened virgin”

What is My offense after all?

You know I didn’t ask for this?

I never had the fortuity to choose either

Because among all of us no one seems better

You have spilled my blood

Hope you are satisfied your conscious?

But I’m leaving a theme behind….

One day we’re going to discuss humanity issues instead of black points

I’m black, you’re white, we’re human

I dare to be different which means I dare to be myself, now what about you?

Did my difference threaten your stability?


Photo credit: Mustapha

A Poem in which His Name Is Replaced by Beirut

By Joyce Horkos

I met Beirut a couple of months ago.

I was passing by when I accidentally saw him.

I wasn’t supposed to look in his direction (he was forbidden property),

But I did- it’s the rebellious code in me.

I was raised on the idea that men, like Beirut,

Take away beautiful things.

I was raised on the idea that men, like Beirut,

Steal away innocence.

I was raised on the idea that men, like Beirut,

Are dark and monstrous.

But I met Beirut.

Beirut didn’t need to steal beautiful things;

He had a collection of his own.

Beirut had missing parts, stolen by other girls

Who visit cities for one-night stands,

Or even worse- for love affairs.

Beirut did have dark corners,

But he made sure to plant streetlights,

On every turn.

Beirut buckled the seatbelts of our imagination and took me places:

There’s this one time when we went up to Jupiter to pick a bouquet of scientific theories,

Or this one time when he insisted we jump off the boat and take a swim in the waters of Venice,

Or this one time when we met Hitler before he started the Second World War, cussed him out, and told him he’d lose.

“Beirut is nothing like us,” they said.

But Beirut was…

Or maybe, I wasn’t like them…

Because Beirut and I were the same.

Beirut showed me his tight humid tunnels,

The ones that suffocate him.

I hated it when Beirut went down the memory lane;

Beirut would have gloomy clouds in his eyes,

And deep lines drafted on his forehead.

Every time Beirut opened up to me,

Fear would haunt him down.

There’s this little kid that would peek through Beirut’s eyes,

And look at me…

As if begging for empathy and hiding away from pity.

I never pitied Beirut,

Instead, I pitied myself.

Beirut didn’t have parents who’d tell him that village girls, like me, are different.

Beirut had enough courage to speak about the past without letting it ruin his future.

Beirut trusted me.

“People usually get scared by my transparency,” Beirut once said…

“But you, you don’t.”

And that’s how Beirut cried,

And when he did,

It made him more of a man…

Beirut’s tears washed away my sins…

When I first met Beirut,

I thought he was just a floral wallpaper,

 And I thought to myself “DAMN! Beirut really isn’t like us!”

Beirut is spring and sunshine and noise and life…”

But Beirut wasn’t.

Beirut pealed the wallpaper bit by bit.

Beirut let me see his brick walls.

Beirut proudly showed me the street art

Written in bold red,

By his high school bullies.

Beirut let me step on the forgotten islands of his heart.

Turns out that Beirut had scarred wrists, just like me.

Beirut held my hand,

As I wandered through his dimly lit isles.

And I didn’t leave Beirut’s hand,

But neither did he when we walked through mind…

“Beirut is loud,” they said,

And Beirut was.

Beirut had a laugh that boomed like thunder,

And thunder isn’t blinding,

Until our fear of its light causes us to close our eyes.

Beirut knew songs that made every muscle in your body move,

And every vein pump blood,

Pump life,

Pump… freshness.

Beirut made silly voices like “gurgle” and “boo” and “aoouuhh”

But Beirut didn’t snore.

Beirut was silent at night.

Beirut hugged me at night.

Beirut moved his hands on my waist,

In patterns that matched my sleepy breaths.

Beirut was calm,

And peaceful,

Like the sound of waves that plays in beach shells,

Like the smell of your grandma’s clothes- the only thing left of her.

But Beirut is also crazy.

Beirut took me to tattoo parlors,

Places where,

Large and bulky men,

Drew unicorns.

But seriously, what’s so bad about unicorns?

Beirut was indeed different.

Beirut had stories to tell.

Beirut had songs to sing.

Beirut had places to go.

Beirut was different,

But not scary.

Beirut was not like my family,

Nothing like my entourage,

But Beirut was like my heartbeat,

Fragile, yet strong.

“Beirut is a cage,” they said,

But they forgot that the ribcage protects the heart…

To me, Beirut and alcohol were both an escape,

The latter to a deep hole,

Where the thought of going out never crossed my mind,

And the former to a high building,

To a skyscraper,

Where the thought of jumping off

Never crossed my mind.

At first, I thought it was just the

Rebellious code in me

That was so fascinated by Beirut,

Because Beirut was the type of man

That had no boundaries.

Nothing stopped Beirut,

Neither time nor place,

And I was just a village girl,

Raised on the idea that Beirut was different.

Beirut was indeed different,

For when the village people left,

Beirut was here to stay…


Photo credit: Marc Chamieh

Poseidon: The architect of destruction

By Marc Chamieh

Calm winds blew my way,
waves crashed at the rocks
to and forth.
The sea caressed the shore with its waves,
who knew something so soothing,
something so gentle
could be so valiant?

Days of contemplation
yet no definitive conclusion.
Just like the sea,
mysterious
strong
just
dark
merciless.

Days of contemplation, still nothing.
Just like the sea,
a shape shifter
a rock crusher
a sinker.

A wave of melancholy crushed the shores.

The moon, her guide.
The sea so relentless,
waves so violent,
ships moored at bay,
captains lost,
pirates intimidated,
shipless fishermen.

The sea,
a body of fluid
a body of birth
a body of destruction

Chaos in the most imperfect perfect way

A sea of whirlpools, a seabed of ship wrecks

The shore caressed by such a violent sea, who knew?

Light breaks surface, darkness beneath, creatures adapted to darkness, not for everyone

Sea of confusion,
a body of lies
a body of cries
a body of might
a body of destruction.

The sea,
a body of crushed dreams
a body of freedom
fluid in every direction,
malleable in every way.

Stiff in every direction,
frozen on all edges,
a body confined by land
a body of hope.

Commandeered by the moon,
strong yet so feeble,
powerful yet so reliant,
organized yet so disoriented,
Entropy at its best.

Charging hurricanes,
reservoir of blizzards
feared by skilled captains,
architect of destruction.

The sea… so violently soothing….


Photo credit: Markus Spiske

Colors

By Valerie Younes

I called you yellow for the first time ever
since I didn’t know your name
Everything about you seemed different because your soul was yellow and your smile was yellow

When I got to know you better
your flaws and insecurities meant a lot to me
I felt the need to discover this mystery
but you didn’t want to share it yet
Although you got angry over silly things
you were able to forget about what happened in a matter of minutes
and that’s when I named you red

I started to fall for you and for the way you perceive life
cause I’ve never met someone like you
who’s able to provide safety the moment our fingerprints were in touch
and at the same time was greedy for whatever I had to offer
I was surprised to see you become green

But,
days passed by after our many first dates
your behavior started to change
and you asked for you own space
When I asked for the reason behind all of this
you cried your beautiful hazel eyes out
and I felt your arms wrapped around me
You were depressed and suicidal and you were good at hiding it
You were looking for someone like me to make you feel like you’re worth it
and I was looking for the same
I seek affection and love and it was given by someone who’s blue
I was in love with someone who’s blue

Yellow was your smile and the eyeshadow
Red was your passion for life and the lipstick
Green was your rare soul and your will to keep on breathing that was no longer an option
Blue were your scars and the tears my shirt held
and about purple…
I have nothing else to say.


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