AIRPORT ROAD www.electrastreet.net/airportroad NYU Abu Dhabi 19 Washington Square North New York, NY 10003
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Front and Back Cover Images: Details from On a Ferry by Tom Abi Samra
Nada Almosa Julián Carrera Rosy Tahan Salha Al Ameri Einas Alhamali Amal Al Shamsi Bhrigu Bhatra Sadaf Habib Mashal Memon Jamie Uy
MANAGING EDITOR FOR DIGITAL
Deborah Lindsay Williams
Cyrus R. K. Patell
Issue 07 Spring 2018
CONTENTS PROSE Alice Huang, Bill’s Place 17
Vamika Sinha, arrangements 18
Vamika Sinha, in a bathroom at the silver center 23
Zoe Patterson, Untitled 56
Muhammad Shehryar Hamid, In Remembrance 59 Leanne Talavera, Supposedly 66
Shamma Al Bastaki, Concave 68
Archita Arun, to the place that did not keep me 76 Tan Tzy Jiun, Duality 81
Shamma Al Bastaki, Unoiled Lungs 82
Zoe Patterson, Mother 24
Arthur De Oliveira, Green, Green, and Gone 85
Alice Huang, Contemplation 48
Leanne Talavera, Indigo 86
Thirangie Jayatilake, Broken Waves 42 Neha John, Notes of sands from home or
Rosy Tahan, Between, a Haiku 85 Tan Tzy Jiun, Baguettes 92
buildings, buildings, buildings 62
Sabrina Zhao, Lady Rocket in Israel 94
Muhammad Shehryar Hamid, Plastic Overdose 70
Arthur De Oliveira, Oh Look! A Street Fair! How Nice! 104
Amna Alharmoodi, 19 65
Lauren You, Dear Korea 96
Alice Huang, Simmer 79
Arthur De Oliveira, Self-Diagnosing Missingness in the Body 110
Smrithi Nair, Girl Surprises All, Saves the World 99
Amal Al Shamsi, On My Spine, a Manual 115
Aiman Khurram, To Be a Woman 126
evgenija filova, poem for a place 10
Aiman Khurram, Untitled 26
Asma Balfaqih, Soccer Euphoria 9
Vamika Sinha, in a sentimental mood 89 Aiman Khurram, My Pillow Book 121
Shamma Al Bastaki, Unibrow 13
Zoe Patterson, A Beats on the Beach True Story 28
Amal Al Shamsi, Serendi Pity 113
Tan Tzy Jiun, To Be Read Aloud 117 Amal Al Shamsi, Wo-manual 119
Kevin Mokhtar, Endless Doorways 12
Arthur De Oliveira, Being Eaten Alive is Unlike Anything Else 32
Adele Bea Cipste, Final Gathering Before Leaving for Faraway Places 15
Shamma Al Bastaki, The Sparrows Are Waiting/Shoot 36
Suraiya Yahia, الدردشةX21
Rosy Tahan, In Your Absence I Read Sartre 35 Arthur De Oliveira, The Axolotl 38
Alia Al Jallaf, Recherché 16
Hatim Benhsain, The Other Side 22
Amal Al Shamsi, Faces of the Surface 46
Einas Alhamali (photographer) and Zainab Abdulrazzak (editor),
evgenija filova, night 52
Sherry Yongyi Wu, Deconstruction 30
Thirangie Jayatilake, Washington Square Park 50
Sabrina Zhao, To Me 55
Balloon Lens 27
Adele Bea Cipste, Portrait of an Old Man 31 Luis Carlos Soto, Pigeons 34 Asma Balfaqih, Vision-ary 40
Kevin Mokhtar, Rough Seas, Calm Pools 41 Tom Abi Samra, On a Ferry 47 Aya Bouhelal, Untitled 51
Tom Abi Samra, Life at Markazi 58 Adele Bea Cipste, Biting Cold 60 Asma Balfaqih, Lotus of Gold 61 Hatim Benhsain, Ragamala 64 Gábor Csapó, Smoke 67 Sreerag JR, Dirty 69
Muhammad Yasin, The Kaleidoscopic Campus! 75 Hatim Benhsain, Squeak 80
Nada Almosa, Persian Shield 84 Sabrina Zhao, 14th St 88
Valeriya Golovina, Opening Hours 91 Hatim Benhsain, United 98
Asma Balfaqih, A Thread of Hope 102
Asma Balfaqih, الكحيلة
Sreerag JR, American 108
Hatim Benhsain, #jesuis 109
Luis Carlos Soto, Human 112 Luis Carlos Soto, Monito 114
Sherry Yongyi Wu, Once during Meditation 116 Suraiya Yahia, Falleras 120
Hatim Benhsain, Angelique Kidjo 125 Tom Abi Samra, Stroll 130
Life at NYU Abu Dhabi is a constant flurry of coursework, student
initiatives, capstone shows, art workshops, January Terms, internships, and volunteering. Fighting against the inklings of burnout, we struggle
to keep up with the demands of now and the expectations of tomorrow.
Deadlines become the horizon, beyond which we can’t imagine anything. In conversations with family and others back home, our city melts away
in talk of our own state as overwhelmed students. Our lives have become limited to the five kilometer radius that is the island of Saadiyat.
The flowers of the frangipani tree are in bloom on the Highline. The
construction workers are yelling back and forth around as the buildings
around our campus grow. The Yas Mall shuttle drives past different colors every time it passes Kite Beach. Turtles are laying their eggs on Saadiyat public beach, and their nests are cordoned off for protection every
Saturday 5:30 a.m. A little girl is leaning down to help flip back a beetle off its back. Theater majors sing across the campus plaza at midnight. Kids are playing football and enjoying their day together. The light of a laptop
screen reflects off the face of student huddled in a library corner, wrapped up in a blanket. The dew becomes visible on our windows at 4 a.m. An old man quietly plays pool on his own in Baraha. Who’s looking? We focus on the minutiae of work but don’t pay attention to the details of
our own, non-academic lives. There are more things in scenes and events than are dreamt of in our routines and schedules, to paraphrase The
Dane. And in want of them, who would not wish for the luck of the traveler in transit? Sitting in a ferry, disconnected from the world, forced for the
duration of the journey to take in the details of the sea, the cargo, and
the fellow passengers, the options for personal entertainment only prove effective for so long before the need to stop and take it all in takes over. Transient scenes float by and we try our best to catch them.
In this edition of Airport Road, we have collected these tiny moments,
these interludes, which achieve significance only in our inhabitation of
them. A woman blurred on a busy street, bubbles floating in Washington Square Park, a song propelling thoughts evoked by the rushing views from a train, are experiences that may not mean much in and of
themselves. But in lingering, whether as briefly as necessary to click a
shutter or as long as to craft a poem, we become aware of these human
subtleties embedded in our day-to-day lives. It is around these moments, these unexpected intrusions of beauty that we reflect upon our lives, and in doing so perhaps understand ourselves.
Soccer Euphoria Asma Balfaqih
poem for a place evgenija filova
This is a place I came out. I was coming. You caught (up) me.
we, you go
to this place
This is a place hidden. I hide it very well. You hide it from me too. It is the place of the innermost. A place private, public. a place of boundaries
is a place of recurrences
on the border
of (un) becomings
of constant influences
Is this the place of commons? A space for us and for all
This is a place unknown of not knowing of
This is a place inaccessible
is it? denied
This place I wrap in towels. Wet towels I buy for you. The towels I buy and then forget. On the shelf, unfolded. Wrinkled.
This is a place I cannot know of. Canâ€™t you? It wouldnâ€™t let me. I tried. I am tired.
This is a place I used to go, on Monday mornings. And Tuesdays. You
sometimes would. Come with me? Together? This is a place I cannot uncover
This is a place I share with you
The place-s exhausted of emptiness. This is the (place)
Is this the place of comings?
Shamma Al Bastaki pull up your blinds you fools
look, a sullen pool
and jumping board number 6 peeking its nose
in the waterâ€™s business three men on a bench two suited up
neck ties, buttons fastened
arms crossed across their laps the leftist of the two is
squinting under a unibrow the moustache
on his upper head
is bigger than the one on his upper lip
the third of them
is wearing a polo shirt
and a spookless slouch
` Endless Doorways Kevin Mokhtar
arms clapped behind his head waggy tongue peeking out
there is a fourth man
phantomlike and plodding
sightless as an eyelash in shrapnel they cannot see him
though he sees them
through some reflective prism some semi-translucent lens his crooked jaw is shifting his crooked jaw is mine
Final Gathering Before Leaving for Faraway Places Adele Bea Cipste Watercolor on paper
Alice Huang I don’t know jazz the way those who know jazz do, though I do enjoy reading jazz.
On the trumpet
Brown velvet shoes, his stance was relaxed and gentle, but with his
powerfully puffed cheeks and the deeply locked triangle between his eyebrows, it seemed as if he eternally holds himself at the precise moment right before drowning in pleasure. On the piano
A man whose face you do not see at all but for a few fleeting moments. On the pink grid shirt that hugged his chubby back, waves of streams were pumping. At peak he was pulled up from the bench into midair because his weight was so concentrated at his fingertips. On the bass
A big man and his even bigger bass. Its thick strings and his even thicker fingers. The touch between his finger and the strings was so intimate it almost felt impolite to stare.
` Recherché Alia Al Jallaf
On the drums
If the other three were affectionate, committed lovers, he’s the vivacious,
inscrutable, mysterious lover who dances across streets, at times ecstatic and at times melancholic. If the other three were a nostalgic conversation at 1 a.m., he’s a greeting to a stranger. If the other two were a bottle of dark merlot, he’s a chilled glass of prosecco.
smooth like a bullet train. You could soften, with age and fat. You could
become a mother.
“Are you ready?” Your mother enters the room. “He just called. He’ll be at
How will it feel when this happens?
the restaurant in twenty minutes.”
Your mother looks at you look at her in the mirror. She smiles. You want to “Yeah. Yeah, I’m almost done.”
It is the day of the meeting, and you’re in your second-best anarkali suit,
tell her things with abandon. You are 25 years old. Your mother gave birth at 26.
the scarlet one with the lace border. Your mother hovers, smoothing down
Will you whisper to him across a pillow after work? Will you tell him how
You look into the mirror together and see how she is you, but softened
with a fearless intensity, with a love devoid of cares or strings, but could
baby hairs, adjusting your necklace. She has been waiting for this day.
you always tried to love the right country (yours) and the right men (theirs)
with age and fat. It is both sweet and a pity.
not? You envied your foreign classmates who did not receive strangers’
She smiles. You smile.
You want to press this ache in your forehead away, into the disappearing
You want to ask her if she had ever been in love before your father was
You ache that this ache exists so much already because of her. You could
chosen for her.
photos in the mail as marriage offers.
well that appears only for you in the hollow of your mother’s collarbones. say it.
One summer, you tried making rotis with your mother. They kept tearing The possible scenarios unfold in your head. You imagine ordering food; you imagine balking. His smile could have
under the rolling pin. You gave up and spent the afternoon lighting and unlighting the stove to stare at the blue part of the flame.
one crooked tooth too. He could make the same expression when he’s
He could have the same crooked tooth.
hands. This could happen. How will it feel if this happens? Well, you could
You are scared you will burn.
perplexed, the two brows lifting up in the middle, like praying pilgrims’
marry him, silly. Live comfortably in Hong Kong, imagine making his food, going shopping on the weekends. You could agree to a well-oiled life,
Your mother strokes the back of your head with the back of her hand.
In the mirror, she is not your mother, and you are not her daughter. She
is an image, and you are an image in a red anarkali suit, and the images are influenced by each other the way Cezanne influenced Picasso. One instability morphing into another, tilting across generations. You smile. She smiles. When you were 10, you once pointed out how looking at another person smile in the mirror makes their face look lopsided, as if the smile is
collapsing on one side like a basket of peaches toppling. You noticed this
when you were watching your grandmother in the mirror, picking out saris for a wedding. Your mother told you to stop that. You didn’t understand how it was rude to notice very obvious things.
Maybe your mother wished your father had a crooked tooth. Maybe she
looked up at the sky as a child and asked God for an ice-cream. A helium balloon. Sometimes you watch her reading her prayer book after bathing in the morning. She often falls asleep. You wonder guilty things. That
maybe she dreams about a lost crooked tooth. Or what would happen if Krishna and the tooth fairy met. Maybe she wonders what it would feel
like to kiss, really kiss, a man with a crooked tooth. A big Bollywood kiss. It is very obvious that she is tired.
“There’s traffic. You should hurry up or you’ll be late,” your father says by the door. He smiles evenly.
Your mother pats your hand and kisses you on the forehead.
in a bathroom at the silver center Vamika Sinha
We listen to John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme album in full for the first
time in jazz class. Our only obligation is to stay entirely focused on the music. Through its duration, I find myself drifting in and out of some
kind of meditative state—one of my old friends would have called this
“accessing the hyperconscious,” while a psychologist with a really long name that I don’t remember might have called it “flow.”
I am tempted to write poems made out of planets and color. Coltrane plays on.
After the album ends, I do not say anything. I get up and go to the
bathroom, look into the mirror and start to cry. I don’t know why I am
doing this, but the crying is coming from some deep, knotty part of me
that I cannot pinpoint. Somewhere in the third movement of the album, it sounded like the saxophone was crying for help. Listen to me. God.
Listen to me. Love me. Love me. I cry harder. I know that every human on this planet, for at least one moment in their life, has become that
` The Other Side Hatim Benhsain
Ink on paper
family. Out of wedlock. Bastard child. No family without a head. Headless.
Flighty Woman. No woman breadwinner. Alone? Lonely. Half. Empty.
She lies in a blue room with her back to the door and to the light, sighing
a father. Unmarried. A shame. A child. A girl child. A little girl child. Half
creaking, her ribcage quivers, and her oceans pool, sloshing and hushing
She’ll be older with issues. Unmarried issues. Shame to raise another
Not enough? Father’s Day card. Shame to raise another. What? Needs
in through the open sliver. She’s trying to catch sleep, but her limbs are
of. What? A father? Needs. Men’s Needs. Cater to. Sex with. Wedlock.
against her beating heart. She stitched herself together with a thin thread.
desperate. White dress. She’ll be a slut. Need a man. What? Half empty
Her seams ache.
girl. Need men. A man. Bastard child. Lonely. Too young—
Did you hear about the girl’s father? (What’s a father?) Didn’t she used to
“Mother, I don’t feel safe.”
live in this town? She’s living alone? Nobody to help her raise?
So, she pops open her chest, one stitch at a time, like a seamstress does
She hears the shower of her daughter’s footsteps and the creak of the
with a dress that needs resizing. She peels her torso in two and shuffles
eyes and feels the shy bounce of knees hitting the mattress one by one.
kisses her bones
The cautious navigation over Mother’s legs and the big eyes wide open
and they wait.
door and the sigh of the light spilling in when it’s opened. She shuts her
The grasping of the sheet, the tugging, the heaving up of the small body.
some organs around. Then she tucks the child inside, and her daughter
in the dark, pouring onto her face. Staring at her, murmuring something in childspeak. A hot hand on Mother’s cheek settles the billowing sea storms in her.
Love’s body shuffles down beside her until they’re nose to nose. When she opens her eyes, calm teeters through the shadows like a tightrope walker in the space between them.
Those things bang their hands and their heads against the side of the house. Jeering and coaxing. Quite a racket.
Too young to be a Mother. Too young. Unmarried. Shame to raise another. With Daddy issues. Daughter. Girl Needs. Father. Too young to raise.
Alone. Lonely. Woman alone. What? Need Men. Need a man. Girl needs a
Aiman Khurram Ferris Wheels and Merry-Go-Rounds.
Random strolls on on Piazza Della Repubblica, Florence. Always Florence, not Rome, never Rome. Grande latte, decaf with low fat milk. The barista’s sweet smile.
The hurriedly yet warmly scribbled “heart” or “have a nice day.” Small things that mean a lot.
“They know we are not from this place,” I whispered. “How do they know we aren’t?” he asked.
“How we look at the floor before we step: the reluctance, the resistance, the confusion,” I whispered again.
I will always be 21, I struggle when someone asks me my age. I forget that I’m 22.
Why do they ask you your age? What does it symbolize?
Wisdom, Maturity or Happiness?
I will always be 18, I will always be 20.
It takes me time but eventually I grow up and grow out.
On days when the stomach doesn’t spit acid and Abu Dhabi is cold. The wind smells of sea salt, asphalt and karak. I miss you and I miss me.
I hate the desert / the sea
Perceptions & Deceptions
Balloon Lens Einas Alhamali (photographer) and Zainab Abdulrazzak (editor)
A Beats on the Beach True Story Zoe Patterson
So here we have the elusive
When her guard is down,
Splayed out at a concert
And whisper something like
With a grin that shows all your
In a tight protective circle.
She’s sure to shout
It takes an Expert Man to
And hop right into your lap.
Get right behind her
“What do you want?”
Her and her pack-mates
“I WANT YOURS YOU STUD”
Allow me to demonstrate: First you crouch, alone
About a meter from the pack.
Pretend to be watching the concert. Hop a little closer And a little closer
Female Creatures Are jumpy Move Slow
` Deconstruction Sherry Yongyi Wu Pen and ink on paper 30
Portrait of an Old Man Adele Bea Cipste Pastel on paper 31
Being Eaten Alive is Unlike Anything Else Arthur De Oliveira
Among the company of cannibals
A blotch of Yellow and Green
From the sun’s crescent descending
In the vast concrete mountains of death
came Julio, my non-Hispanic parrot
My skin melts on a popsicle stick; Julio, I— 5
On the subject of Lime vs Lemon2
Like velcro—my arm is torn apart, slowly
Limes amongst Lemons is how
botanical delicacies are seasoned by cross fit enthusiast, Sergio
Within a heart, acidic juices have passion
This gave away the people’s good taste, as sweat formed above my lips6
His peck scratched a thought on my head
In the fast pace of the city7 the canipasserbals commended
“No Spanish !” I rotate for a lighter roast on my neck.
“Ouch,” I screech—Julio replies, “El Ouch”
I wrote an expression in Comic Sans4
“No,” I say—Julio squawks, “El Ouch, Los No”
“El squawk!” breaks his beak open—an inch apart 3
The good taste, but the seasoning makes it better
She replied through a quick malign
Death8 is silent with a long queue to what I hope is heaven.
Look in Garamond and a smile in font nine
Julio, my non-Hispanic parrot, squawks and flies away.
Tightly observed feathers warm my heart With the something I see in you, not like anyone else. 2 Lemonade on a winter’s day with cinnamon, you compared that to me, not to anyone else. 3 Laughing cut a wound deep in me When my impressions of Kermit the Frog scared you 4 A gulp of one liners swallowed whole chuckles And cheap comedy on the basis of insults, with silent answers.
6 7 8
Howling exchanges compacted with images Of which nouns make up nonexistent parts of me My mixed bowl of quinoa, fried kale and meat Sat on the tongue of an unfamiliar language Screaming acoustic Graffiti that smell like urine is chosen over the cold winds that bring in pollen I am waiting for the punchline of your presence I wait not like anyone else. Only I see that in you.
In Your Absence I Read Sartre Rosy Tahan
The first human discovery was that of absence. Fire came only after the widening of the caves.
Anguish is a fire under the expansive world’s daylight. Anguish is also the future’s demand of a freer being. To lie next to you is an ontological question. To lie to you is self-unawareness.
I lie by the omission of your body from my bed.
A digital togetherness is a relational beguilement. We whisper in blue light what’s only real in breath.
I can’t know if I’m choosing you or not being apart. Sartrean bad faith is the blindness to innate freedom. I have cities and possibilities, but still I cave to yours.
Sartre would oppose us calling each other “compelling.”
Existence precedes essence; mine your potential presence. Denying love’s contingency is an act of bad faith.
Still I misuse my freedom and subtractively sculpt you.
Luis Carlos Soto
The Sparrows Are Waiting / Shoot Shamma Al Bastaki
itch my amber bottomed feet
nose on camera, Nasser
this areesh bed is
your finger is trembling
the fronds are drier
tell me when to close my lips
the powder is broken
the sparrows are waiting
creakier than your
the sparrows are waiting shoot the photograph so you can shoot
than the farm goatsâ€™ throats in mid July
so I can shoot
pass me my rifle
take my Tokyo tongued camera
take a Tokyo tongued photograph capture the carnival in my eyes! I will smile small
can you hunch your spine? like this?
hang the rifle between your striped pants barely bell-bottomed yet let your rifle be a stripe
like this? I will turn my ear to you
Arthur De Oliveira If1 only2 feathered3 Gills4 were5 the6
Which54 swims55 inside56 the57 growing58
Muscles7 of8 my9 heart10 that11 turned12
Shades59 of 60changing61 disappointment62
Blood into wine and splinters into saw dust 13
Of63 someone64 who65 has66 a67 hard68 time69 growing70 up71
Then only can the heart 21
Until72 then73, I74 slumber75 inside76 a77 glass78 tank79
Agriculturally26 grow27 love28
And glue cracks composed of wordless actions 29
If only that little prayer 36
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Seen 9:46 PM Seen 9:47 PM Seen 9:48 PM Seen 9:49 PM Seen 9:50 PM Seen 9:51 PM Seen 9:52 PM Seen 9:53 PM Seen 9:54 PM Seen 9:55 PM Seen 9:56 PM Seen 9:57 PM Seen 9:58 PM Seen 9:59 PM Seen 10:00 PM Seen 10:01 PM Seen 10:02 PM Seen 10:03 PM Seen 10:04 PM Seen 10:05 PM Seen 10:06 PM Seen 10:07 PM Seen 10:08 PM Seen 10:09 PM Seen 10:10 PM Seen 10:11 PM Seen 10:12 PM
The88 place89 I90 hope91 to92 be93 forever94 with95 you96 55
The46 hope47 around48 the49 colors50 of51 my52 iris53 2
With80 a81 little82 hope83 to84 grow85 out86 into87 54
Lasted41 a42 little43 longer44 inside45 1
28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53
Seen 10:13 PM Seen 10:14 PM Seen 10:15 PM Seen 10:16 PM Seen 10:17 PM Seen 10:18 PM Seen 10:19 PM Seen 10:20 PM Seen 10:21 PM Seen 10:22 PM Seen 10:23 PM Seen 10:24 PM Seen 10:25 PM Seen 10:26 PM Seen 10:27 PM Seen 10:28 PM Seen 10:29 PM Seen 10:30 PM Seen 10:31 PM Seen 10:32 PM Seen 10:33 PM Seen 10:34 PM Seen 10:35 PM Seen 10:36 PM Seen 10:37 PM Seen 10:38 PM
56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83
Seen 10:39 PM Seen 10:40 PM Seen 10:41 PM Seen 10:42 PM Seen 10:43 PM Seen 10:44 PM Seen 10:45 PM Seen 10:46 PM Seen 10:47 PM Seen 10:48 PM Seen 10:49 PM Seen 10:50 PM Seen 10:51 PM Seen 10:52 PM Seen 10:53 PM Seen 10:54 PM Seen 10:55 PM Seen 10:56 PM Seen 10:57 PM Seen 10:58 PM Seen 10:59 PM Seen 11:00 PM Seen 11:01 PM Seen 11:02 PM Seen 11:03 PM Seen 11:04 PM Seen 11:05 PM Seen 11:06 PM Seen 11:07 PM Seen 11:08 PM
84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96
Seen 11:09 PM Seen 11:10 PM Seen 11:11 PM Seen 11:12 PM Seen 11:13 PM Seen 11:14 PM Seen 11:15 PM Seen 11:16 PM Seen 11:17 PM Seen 11:18 PM Seen 11:19 PM Seen 11:20 PM Seen 11:21 PM
` Vision-ary Asma Balfaqih
Rough Seas, Calm Pools Kevin Mokhtar
Thirangie Jayatilake I slip the lens cap into my jean pocket and fumble with the lens, zooming
brown dog staring at him from the shore. Gray hair on his head, white
scene properly because people are blocking it from my view. Now this is
below his bulging stomach. Fishermen usually fish in deep sea in the
and uneven footprints where the waves lap back and forth, and grayish
ground with the occasional purple flower emerging from the crunched
I scroll back a few more pictures. There he was, walking along the coast
in and out, trying to frame the picture. I hate when I can’t capture the
vest, and a sarong bent halfway upwards from his knees tied in a knot
different, there are no crowds, just a few lone figures leaving their even
morning. What was he doing in shallow water, where there are unlikely
crabs, trying to avoid the next salty wave. Green trails run along the seashell embedded sand.
The soft malt sand crumbling underneath my feet gets darker as it dares
line, looking in the direction of the hiding couple. Was he here to catch his daughter in a forbidden act?
towards the ocean, whose waves gnaw at the sand, claiming its territory
The revelation leading to panicked heated outbursts of shock and shame
would not find its way back towards inland. The sky is dressed in a light
our daughter associating with that man. What will people say?” Would he
by sinking its weight into the sand, making sure that those little crumbs
under a roof covered with dried, braided coconut leaves. “We can’t have
orange infused gold expanse maneuvering itself between long flags of
drag her away or confront her at home?
pink and purple. The soft white clouds are tinged with a dripping pink
that turns into gray around its full round curves. The setting sun is leaving its legacy in the sky, hiding behind the clouds but letting its light filter
He started working as a teenager, waking at 3.30 a.m. and heading out
through in different shades.
with his father as the birds began chirping in the dark. He had learned
There’s a couple on my right so I push a little more towards the left and
around his fourth finger had been there for 32 years now: he had married
the ways of the sea; the waves, the force, the rush. The thin gold band
risk having a single man standing in the water in my picture.
late. When their husbands returned to shore, Lila and some other women
Two weeks later, I scroll through the pictures on my laptop. I did manage
tangled into a heap and then proceed to tap the fish out of the nets. The
it’s not socially acceptable to be affectionate in public in the more
men to sell the fish. Their daughter, Nandini, would be at school. The
umbrella. But the man on the left was still there in the frame. I zoom in to
her parents,” he gently said, tying a piece of blessed white pirith1 string
would help their husbands unload the long stretch of colored fish nets
to avoid the Umbrella couple on the right. “Umbrella Couple” because
women would wash the fish before proceeding to the market with their
conservative Sri Lanka, leading couples to hide behind an outstretched
monk had named her based on her horoscope. “She will be a light to
find a fisherman; I hadn’t noticed his fishing rod before and the little
around the infant’s right wrist. 1
Threads blessed by Buddhist monks
His mind always traveled to 20 years ago. He left the house in the
morning, and Lila met him at the beach. When they got back home, Nandini wasn’t home yet. She’s probably studying at school, they
agreed. Her breakfast of rice with dhal and coconut sambol had been cleared away. They realized she was gone after they learned that she
never made it to school. They filed a report, put up fliers and notices in
newspapers, waiting for stretches at the Police Office. They went to the temple to pray and even made an offering at a kovila, the Hindu temple
where Lila frantically begged, her palms stuck together in reverence, her
money for whose future? would hang in the empty space as their eyes crossed.
He stared at the grayish blue expanse ahead of him. Where else was he supposed to go? What else did he know how to do? He looked at the
young couple, the air traveling down his lungs filling in deeper, heaving
him down as if a heavy load of fish had been dropped down his air pipe.
Would his daughter ever have the chance to get married? He wondered if that could have ever been her.
eyes struggling to bear the weight of her fright and love, “Please, we will
offer more baskets of fruits even. Whatever the Gods want. Please.” The Kapumahaththaya2 who read her horoscope said that they might never see her again.
Her loss came like a large wave, the current pulling him down by his
ankles, his body collapsing towards the ocean bed, his eyes watching the
gray water sweep above him and the saltiness stinging his eyes and every little wound on his body. She walked to school by herself because her
parents had already left the house. Maybe he should have watched the waves, protected his du3 from the crashing waves. No one would have
noticed if someone crept into their house. She was only a little girl. Eleven years old.
Maybe if he had some other livelihood, he could’ve been the father who would have dropped his daughter to school instead of leaving home
before she had even woken up. So he came to the sea even when he
didn’t have to. With an old fishing rod he barely used. The house had too
much of vacant air in it, and Lila preoccupied herself by taking up sewing. When she earned that extra money from sewing, the unspoken saving 2 3
Hindu priests Daughter
Faces of the Surface Amal Al Shamsi
Birthday balloons with the wrong age, Bubbles saved from stubby fingers, Clouds, the finest voyeurs,
Grocery bags like flags of the modern world, Cribs, hopefully empty before the voyage, Decorated goldfish in their tanks, Shackled buoys on guard, Takeout boxes in the tub,
Hungry dhows with their mouths too full,
Paper plates stained by someone’s last meal,
Disembowelled watermelons who didn’t see it coming, Flowers from the guilty man next door,
Straws in the shared drink gone too fast, Empty chests,
Chunks of rock, once sweltering stars, Gazes unplugged from the mind,
Childhood memories deliberately erased, Hurled words never meant to escape,
Hands when they hesitate and withdraw, Worries when they didn’t matter at all, Voices that call, call, call. All that we can know
On a Ferry Tom Abi Samra
about what’s hiding under this boat is what we can imagine from the things that stay afloat.
Contemplation Alice Huang
I stood in front of the window in the bedroom of someone I had cared for
messy duct tape and confusing layers of printed words, moving with a
dearly in the past. A cheap hotel building blocked a third of the view. It
destination and no privilege to get lost.
The lights on the hotel sign had not worked a single night since I moved
Today, though, I made myself coffee with the moka pot I took with me
palette with various scales of gray. The headlight of an illegally parked car
read Hemingway to the December street, and played a song that sings,
was almost midnight, yet the sky retained a touch of blue, though muddy. in two weeks ago. To the right was a parking lot with cars aligned like a
when I moved away from my apartment in Florence eight months ago. I
blinked violently at a man strolling pass. There were no ant people like
“I’ll be your real tough cookie with the whiskey breath.”
how they enjoy saying when they look outside a window. And the cars on
the road moved only lazily. The night was not dark enough and the streets were not bright enough.
I watched a video on BBC about absurdism. What is life? It says, you
Not every window takes you to the end of the Fifth Avenue like that of the
either move all the green peas from one plate to another, or you jump off
eighth floor of Kimmel on a Thursday night.
I felt like the cheap hotel, the collection of cars shadowed under an
I’d rather perpetually move peas, though oftentimes I sympathize more
eternal staring at the boring traffic.
tend to feel like one pea being moved between plates, and I sit and watch
ordinary night, the violently exposed pedestrian, and a streetlight stuck in
strongly with the peas themselves, not the pea mover. On cloudy days I people come and go and feel like peas for them.
* The view from my window is terribly gray, but I can’t pull myself away
from staring at the Christmas lights on the roof a diagonal block across from me.
Since the first snow three days ago, the city has been quite sticky from the melting and dripping. Usually on these kinds of days, I feel like a
reused Amazon Prime cardboard box, carrying a mismatched piece of plastic that sold itself without feeling a slight sting, covered with
Washington Square Park Thirangie Jayatilake
Last Spring I walked through Washington Square Park and the benches had almost reached full capacity.
I pass by the saxophone player at the base of the statue, pink blossoming around him, intercepted with fresh light green buds,
The guy walking around with a free hugs sign,
The lady with three dogs with their leashes tied to her waist, Innocent bystanders sitting on the inside of the fountain, enjoying the bliss of sunshine and warmth, before the fountain comes back to life,
forcing them out of their seats, the same fountain
that hosted budding skateboarders and footballers just two months ago,
A random stranger walking around holding an Insomnia
Cookies envelope asking “would you like to share A cookie with me?” I wonder why he didn’t try
offering it to a dog, a dog wouldn’t have rejected him.
Untitled Aya Bouhelal
Yesterday I was scared of taking a tissue out of the tissue box. The tiles
When are you coming back? You left ago. You left your tissues too. I can’t
around me were round. And blue. I felt like shrinking, my buttons rolling
take care of your tissues, come pick them up. Please …
sound of paper sheets that caused this. One, two, three, it will be over
Over there on the left one can see the leaves. Tiny, sharp, glass-edge
soon. J and I had a fight …
leaves, out of the tree. The tree was late though. I tried again.
I like washing my hands. It circles around but it doesn’t come back. We
It is wrapped up it was wrapped up. Here I am gonna go now. I told her
The holes can’t come back. Which is what scares me. J and I had a
me. L too. Today?
Tomorrow we will do it.
I can maybe go now. To try to get there. Arrive. Carrying it, holding it. I
I never liked the patterns on the ground, I just never did. It gushes me.
don’t really know what I am doing.
Awfully, horribly, hot tills.
I really don’t understand what is happening here. The night she told me
Oh, this is so bizarre. I am telling you, I am scared. Only one wave in the
on the floor. I think my left hair curled to the right. It must have been the
are continuously present here. I am attempted of scared fears. And holes. fight again. And coffee I said I only like hot coffee. Tea hurts my nostrils.
look into the night. Onto the night? I see and I can’t see, her loving me. I cried. She didn’t cry, she maybe cried. That cake was good! However. Tomorrow she said it will materialize. Dematerialize? Dissolve, into the liquid. Liquidity never dissolves I said. I am so smart. I know.
I will be home for dinner. I hope she is not still angry at me. T has to call
only one wave. And then she passed. She crossed me. Overwhelmed
On big streets we can walk apparently. Hm. Mhm. I am not sure really. Can we? Walk? What?
I let time slip through my fingers. Again. It shattered and broke. I don’t like
I felt ignored again. I really don’t know how this happened. I tried to
the image of time breaking actually. Shattering is better. Cursing.
corrected she always corrects.
I hear holes. I can hear them. I am serious. They are calling me. Should I
go there, I really did, but the language ceased me, deserted me! she
come back? Go back she said. But I didn’t hear her. I never do.
The feeling of darkness behind a half closed curtain. I always close the doors for that reason. She doesn’t.
It is at the edge of chaos that you need to stand on. At. At the edge of chaos. Can you see it? It is over there, look. The chaos. I found it! Did you poke it? No? It’s all right.
We can try again tomorrow.
(A ripoff poem of Kenneth Koch’s To You) Sabrina Zhao
You love the kid on the roof
That connects the snow to the wind thanks to the blue sunlight Because I always lay near the walnut tree beside you Thinking of the years of craziness in a bottle Lying on the sea, from Miami to Hartford
Oh goodness! The search of the thousands of thoughts that
Awaken me on the sidewalk leading towards somewhere deep inside My head laid on your shoulders and this pose
Of us at the window always sees itself in harmony
Best at dawn, but unlikely of me and not trustworthy of me For I question the beliefs that you live with and for, as a
Kid questions the green goat that he sees on the fields and oh
I question love as a sheriff questions the murderer at dawn as the
Wind blows his white shirttails in the snow; and so I swim and swim
In the sea that leads me from Hartford back to Miami but no sea; so For years I search as a ship sails from and to Africa, or as a kid Bicycles from Miami to Hartford back and forth My heart so out of place but always receives
Questions when awake or not, and so I love and live And because I love I question, so I live From this unsolved case I live always.
A liminal life
Steeped in spider webs
Absurd sounds and unlikely light
The tendrils tenuous and trembling
Unlikely borne by air but
Hands wrapped by some new city
A bird a puff of feather flight
There she is
Walking through cobwebs
You kissed my cheeks so tenderly
When I was drinking you in with wider eyes
Baby spiders squeal
White from the snow-skies I threw hope on
You wrapped my hands in wool
I wished I wishedâ€”
Light like eyelashes
But no wishes for those baby spiders squished.
You blew the frost away with breaths
I wished on you
Eyes fixed on faded desert stars and Hazy New York pin pricks.
We slept in a pulsing grid of
Those deep-sea glowing fish and
Waves of whales I wished I wished I walked
I held in sea-salt breaths
Muhammad Shehryar Hamid Remember the foul cough syrup?
The one mother would force upon you. So instead, you’d run away and hide.
Remember how you’d forget even having a sore throat as a few hours went by?
Remember when for the first time you felt an itch on your back? And how you’d extend your arms, and scream.
But your arms would prove to be too short in length.
Remember how mother would come running and scratch? Remember when you first had the blues. In your chest, you felt a sunken heart.
And the view from your eyes was wet and blurred. Remember how she’d sing you lullabies all night?
Remember when you called her just the other day?
Life at Markazi Tom Abi Samra
And how excited she was to talk to you? How sudden it was, all that happened.
Remember how she said she’d never let you go?
Biting Cold Adele Bea Cipste Ink on paper
Lotus of Gold Asma Balfaqih
Notes from sands of home or buildings, buildings, buildings Neha John
At dusk I see your curves and lines. Light spilling forth from your insides.
The hudhud has come. Or so it seems. The sounds are not real. Pigeons
the struggles walled within. Wood glue, glass and vinyl. Your name, in big,
crown of the hudhud and the pigeons that poop. They can fly, fly away.
Entrails of a broken generation. Tears behind windows. Glass panes mask
on window sills. Green and white they leave their markings. The little
bold letters, is printed on my heart. Etched on my mind. You are as much
And then return. I want to fly. Take this place with me everywhere I go.
Lines and curves that guide and confuse me.
I accept it, I accept it all. The spilling sand, the strange darkness outside
As the sun sets, I look beyond your shoulders. A vastness that I still
of perfume, rustling trees, bird poop on windows, bird poop on cars. I
checkpoints of growth and prosperity. But, the dust is still settling. It
about today, tomorrow, yesterday. I accept our flawed understanding
horizon. Everything has changed. You are not the same either. I know you.
gain a relationship of temporality.
I would say you saw my heart. My tears and love at maximum intensity.
Saadiyat is a strange name. “Happiness” Island. I live on happiness
conversations that you know that others don’t. Secrets or special details
contained in happiness. Tears masked by happiness. Fear hidden behind
special. Walls that once confused enlighten me. Draw my understanding
its blue. Big, Blue and Happy.
a cascade of papers and books. Instantly buried. Constantly buried. Still
These streets, these sands, they rise up and chase after me. In my hair,
stories safe. Walls that contain the tipping sand. Walls that must come
a part of me now as I am of you. Patterns in bricks, patterns on trees.
my window, the tears of a friend, my tears in the corridors, the smell
cannot explain lies ahead of me. Again, I see lights. Markers of civilization,
accept that it is all useless. The papers, the hours, the constant thinking
irritates my eyes and the sounds hurt my ears. Slowly I no longer see the
of each other. I always thought I was safe with you. I was wrong, and I
We shared something. We have lost something to each other, in order to
You saw my heart towards you and my heart towards others. There are
island. Happiness Island is home to my happiness and sorrows. Woes
we share. Hidden within your walls and the pages of notebooks. You are
happiness. The color of the water is different here. Nothing compares to
to what is truly significant in life. Guide me to be myself. Drowning under
my pockets, my shoes. They come with me everywhere I go. I cannot get
the smell comforts me. Of pages, and people and place. Walls that keep down.
rid of it. Washing has not helped; leaving does not answer it either. When I tip my shoes over, the sand keeps pouring out. I’m still holding a shoe,
tilted in my hands that has been tipping sand since 1998, and it does not
look like it will end. A perpetual machine powering nothing but memories.
Amna Alharmoodi Drawn curtains look like frames made of light. “You’re too young to
study medicine.” My family members like to impart wisdom where they
have no business to. Remain here, where they can dissect every choice you’ve made. There are books on how to be successful, but there are
none on how to manage a forty-seven-year-old. We wonder how many
stars there are in the sky, but do stars wonder how many humans think
of them? The grass felt hungry, it was recently fed, but desire emanated
from the ground underneath. Can we only please death and accompany
it by departing those we love to face loneliness? The room was too bright for my eyes, I focused on slicing the apple pie for fifteen people I loved. The sky was a lazy blue-gray, indecisive choice for everyone to behold.
The waves pulled at my feet, beckoning me to join a carefree life. Home remedies include adding turmeric to an unsanitized wound, rub it in like
Ragamala Hatim Benhsain Ink on paper
hateful others who rub salt in your wounds; actually adding a little salt
with turmeric might help. She has these eyes that look at you and seem to know everything about you, a smile that further admits the previous fact, and words that your ears have longed for. Pretty pink dresses
with cut-outs to show off just the right amount but save a little bit for
imagination humiliation. Some cells are worth the sacrifice. Things to
look for while walking: cracks, snakes and flying umbrellas; you should
be wary of cracks lest you fall into one, snakes have a certain irresistible
charm, and umbrellas might poke your eyes out. Remnants of loved ones smell, be sure to sanitize or throw them out, don't cling to them at night: tears make the smell even more intense. How should I shower you with
affection: with a light drizzle, or in a similar fashion to Katrina? We forget how the whistle sounds or how the line is drawn.
Leanne Talavera My Aunt is dying, or was dying, but either way she’s not dead
yet. Thankfully, she would grind out, the words scraping past a cigarette. She inhales the nicotine, her lips
sucking furiously like how they used to against a styrofoam rim, newly bought from the Starbucks that just replaced her high school diner. Heels up,
panty out, as the Chanel that sent her into debt rides up a thigh as darkly roasted as her butt isn’t.
What a day, followed by the fall of ashes, I’ve only drank two glasses.
Christ! her exclamation frightens
Johnny Walker, sends two ice cubes into a Big Bang ricochet.
Fizzle, pop. Whistles where she blows. Her smoke covers the
first blue sky since the monsoon.
How funny, I start to see, that people
who are about to die are more willing
Smoke Gábor Csapó
to do things that would make them die faster.
Shamma Al Bastaki I have
metamorphosed into a little less than a cocoon
an unripe mango going greener
hearts are like ants
strong, but easily squashed the salty puddle in my eye is reluctant
my journey is a blizzardful parking lot carless and careless at dusk (threathed through by ashes hour-hither hour yonder
drives through a conscience) concave
Dirty Sreerag JR
dangerous gaseous emissions. It was in those days when the plastic
Muhammad Shehryar Hamid
began to accumulate together like magnetic materials do, but unlike
It has almost been a year now. Two hundred and thirty-three days to
it covered most of the roads and desert land. Over the years, it spread
running out of food. I tried leaving yesterday, but it was pitch black. Even
of heavy machinery to force it to sink, but was able to succeed only to an
The concentration of volatile organic chemicals and dioxins has been
of marine species and seabirds. David predicts that only a handful of land
the abnormal gaseous presence, but night-vision devices could not
regions. I haven’t encountered any land animal in over a year. The last one
magnetic materials, it also began to spread and extend flat. Soon enough
be exact. I have not left the hiding place for seven days, and we are
over the ocean, and it wouldn’t sink. The world government tried the use
worse, the view through the night vision goggles is fading day by day.
extent. Doing this, however, led to the death and extinction of thousands
increasing rapidly. The naked eye has adapted to partially see through
species must be existing today, mostly those inhabiting mountainous
I came across was a dying monkey, with bits of chewed plastic container
We have been staying at the hiding place for seventy-eight days now.
in its mouth.
Seventy-one of these days have been completely pitch black. David
The world had become a strange place. The sole intent of the last space
awake at night. Of course, there is no way of knowing for sure. There
of outer space. The best astronauts were sent on this mission, and the
PM. Setting the time using instinct on the days when there was little
globe from any angle was blue. Shades of gray and black were most
is only confusion when I think of time. Who would have thought that
dense tree plantations were not affected by the accumulation of plastic,
unaware than ever?
most of the humans, including us, have emigrated to. We used rocks,
I can sometimes see sparks when I frantically rub stones together.
shelter. It has barely sufficient space to accommodate the four of us, but
or even start a fire. “There is barely enough oxygen for us to properly
I are responsible for gathering food, whereas Susan and David spend
had been conducting scientific research specifically on the disposal
concentration to at least our hiding place.
plastic malfunction. His wife, Susan, often reminds us how close David
I wonder why I call the shelter “hiding place.” It is not hidden, and we are
has judged from our sleeping patterns that we sleep in the day and stay
mission held was to capture photographs of Earth from the perspective
is no way to tell whether the time on our watches is actually in AM or
pictures that they brought back were horrifying. Not even a tenth of the
light coming through has devoid us of any real knowledge of time. There
common, with some hints of green. The forests. Surprisingly, areas with
the future would eventually lead us into a history where man was more
although residues of plastic can be found there too. The forests are where broad leaves, dry grass, available dead pine and clothes to build our
David, however, has ruled out any possibility of being able to sustain
we manage. There isn’t much work to do, but my girlfriend, June, and
breathe,” he claims, as he sees me clashing stones like a madman. David
their time researching mechanisms that can restore the adequate oxygen
of non-biodegradable plastic for ten years, up until the onset of the
was to finding a solution to chemically disposing of plastic without any
not hiding. Perhaps it is because of the news agencies back when the
electricity was still in supply. The news would constantly report how some
and eventually combined with the ozone layer to form a dark endless
course, back then it sounded odd, but within months it became the norm.
then. Perhaps the only good thing about the sheet was that it ended the
scientists and other people are entirely relocating to the forest lands. Of
It is no doubt now that most of the living population resides in the forests. The gaseous toxicity has killed every person who chose to stay in the
ignorant bliss of their houses. Many colonies have formed in the forests where the shelters are made closer together to reflect a societal way of living in the community. Our shelter, however, is situated far from any colony.
sheet in the sky. It has been two hundred and thirty-three days since
suffering caused by the heat. Electricity had shut down by then, and all offices, industries, and organizations, including healthcare, had closed. That time saw the rise of many people leaving their houses with no
belongings, hopelessly trying to find the land where the scientists had left
for earlier. They were hopeless because of the darkness, which took away their senses of direction and instilled in them a fear of the unknown.
It was about two years after the onset of the plastic malfunction that
My father was the last living member of my family, and he lived together
heat became unbearable. Scientists claimed that the Earth was moving
sick due to the inhalation of toxic fumes. It had been four months since
the global temperatures began to increase. Over a few months, the
closer to the Sun, and that there was an imbalance in gravitational and interplanetary attraction. Their claim was soon regarded as fact when
it became noticeable that the Sun was too low in the sky, and news of
consistent floods near the regions of the North and South poles became mainstream. That was when the world shook into chaos, and a world
government was created as a desperate measure to take a united stand against the possibility of mass extinction.
It wasnâ€™t the world government, though, that saved us from mass extinction. It was plastic itself, granting us our lives to spend in a
nightmare of night. With the sun so low, some of the plastic began to
decompose. This process used oxygen in the air over the months, and released many gases, volatile organic chemicals, and dioxins. These
continuous decomposition reactions took place all over the world, and the air was full of a toxic smoke-like gaseous substance. Millions of infants and children died. The lives of many adults and older human beings
were taken as well, and some were rendered extremely sick, including my father. The darkly colored gas rose as it was constantly produced,
with me and June. After the mass decomposition began, he was taken the darkness had spread, and it was already difficult to distinguish day from night. The three of us had locked ourselves in a room with no
windows, to ensure that the air was as clean as it could be. I found an oxygen tank at a nearby deserted clinic and used it to provide a clean
supply of oxygen to my father for a few days. When it ran out, June and
I urged him to leave with us to the colonies, but he wouldnâ€™t agree. A few days later, his condition had worsened. Both June and I tended to him
regularly, until he passed away a week later. That was eighty days ago,
exactly when we left for the colonies. The sky was pitch black then, and there were no streetlights. I couldnâ€™t spot even one star, even if I tried because the sheet was the thickest it has ever been. June and I were lucky to have been found by David and Susan when we set out with
just a flashlight. I was flashing it as an emergency sign, and David saw it. The four of us were probably the last ones to have left the city. We
searched for any of the colonies for two days once we reached the forest, but in vain, and so we decided to make our own shelter in the middle of nowhere and have been here ever since.
I often recall the final days of my father. Once I was talking to June
about how ironically surprising the occurrence of the plastic malfunction was, given how the laws had ordained for years that no new plastic
be produced and that it was the duty of every citizen to take all plastic objects to recycling plants every week. My father overheard the
conversation and interrupted: “Back in my days, plastic was ordinary and everywhere, and not in the chaotic style that it is now. This
plastic accumulation is a hoax by the government. Plastic used to be everywhere, and it made life easy. Oh, this reminds me, back when
life was convenient, water used to be available in the market in plastic bottles. Thousands of plastic bottles in every market. I haven’t seen
one in a long time. You could carry water anywhere, and you could buy water anywhere. No fake electronic hydration system. It’s just that the
environmentalists have finally won, but wrongfully so. I still remember how they would start riots, especially in universities. They would create web
pages, twitter accounts, and whatnot to support their campaigns, but to
what extent? What did it achieve them? How could they foolishly believe that plastic has any connection to the environment? Or that recycling all the plastic in the world would actually achieve anything. Tell you what, they would put plastic recycling bins everywhere, but ask me if I ever
threw anything plastic into one of those. My friends were the same. Did
anything crazy happen? Never. This plastic disaster outside is just a hoax.
Muhammad Yasin The Kaleidoscopic Campus!
They’re brainwashing you.”
In his last days, my dying father recalled some horrific and unimaginable
details. Something crazy did happen. He lost his life, inhaling the ordinary. But as I’m alive, thinking of the historic abuse of plastic sends chills down my spine.
to the place that did not keep me Archita Arun
dress modestly when visiting a public place such as malls,
The Corniche as a place of meditation Even though I remained
Oh, just be humane to me!
the grocery stores always have at least one Malayali vendor, the Applebee’s in Villagio had some of the best vegetarian food in the city,
There still remains one sea to cross
our white Toyota Corolla that accumulated a little more dust each day,
the Lebanese/Palestinian family who lived across the street
We continued to live magnificently temporarily permanently frugally
other had peculiar brown curls,
generously respectfully reasonably comfortably equally privately
the Chili’s that was a 15-minute drive from home served the
majestically materially consequently guiltily heavily frequently melancholy
from us have two daughters: one had blonde hair and the
happily satisfactorily normally humbly abnormally thankfully liberally
living in Doha >>> living in Al Wakhra,
considerately financially amiably communally inwardly furtively outwardly
best appetizers ever. West Bay
deservedly queasily erroneously crucially distinctly ferociously eventually
Remember the ice bucket challenge performed in our backyard bare like
ownership by foreign nationals.
place I was forced to call ‘home.’
What can I do?
Pearl Qatar: the first land in the nation to be available for freehold Yet exclusive to Qataris. Indians can go, but they will always be the Driving around these areas late into the night Can I ever live in Pearl Qatar?
Buy a house? Own a piece of land?
a mother’s womb that has just given birth? In the desolate, abandoned
I fled from one permanent residence to another looking for the humane and came so far far far for you only to be deported.
Look, have I done enough to look like them? Have I hidden my origins well enough?
I now see that no matter how many times I rode that dusty schoolbus or
walked around our housing compound or cried myself to sleep each night in a room too big for a 15-year old or visited my friends’ smaller houses
with smaller rooms in the actual city of Doha or went to the many malls in this damned country or even pretended I wasn’t completely “Indian,” I never belonged there. I never did. Sometimes some of our summer nights return to haunt me when I am
wide awake, the barbecue night for instance, remember how the seven
of us were happy and content with our barbecued mushrooms and bell peppers and paneer, but I am forgetting now my memory betrays me a little more each day
Alice Huang I have a habit of rereading letters. 1
Location: At the door outside a house I was trying to steal some light from. Time: 19th birthday. Footsteps vanished in the night.
Slightly tilted head and nervous shoulders. Shy, skinny handwriting.
Inconvenient time, second-to-last goodbye, shattered faces. It felt as if
there was an obligation to shed tears, but my lacrimal glands were too cold. 2
And I say I want to return, but do I really know what I would be returning to?
Time: Before going to bed, reading it for what I thought was the last time before burying it under my old shoe box.
Residence permit: cancelled Status: DEPORTED
The overwhelming aﬀection was like: gum stuck under my new boots,
empty plastic bottles in my already small backpack (no trash bin), mom’s nag before a class of teenagers. Delete alert yes no. I was drowning in someone else’s desperation. 3
I pine for this place that I grudgingly called home for a little less than eight months.
It is the shame of being “thrown out” and discarded that continues to hurt me deep down. It is the shame. I wish I had departed the way I had arrived. I wish I had never arrived.
Location: Bed, window side.
Time: Now. After a long time.
Ruins of time in the eyes, right palm on left cheek. The earth is round
so we would never fall apart. Waves of delayed aﬀection kicking in, delayed like tequila as opposed to marijuana. Tenderness like men’s tongues
against the nipples. Unresolved feelings like tangling fiber of raw celery in the mouth. Side-eﬀects of growing up like a mathematical proof without
properly introduced notations. Sticky texture of the past like skin-tight jeans on a hot summer day.
Tan Tzy Jiun You are nothing but a potted cactus
Placed on the windowsill for an occasional glance or Whimsical pity.
You are everything like a ladybug On a yellow petal sunbathing, Subjected to no oneâ€™s eyes.
Squeak Hatim Benhsain Ink on paper
Shamma Al Bastaki
we were just idiots
as we screamed and laughed
early 60’s, flicking sand off our lashes
and belched out our flimsy, flowery frustrations
at a neighbor’s well
the dead dinosaurs moving our machine
cameras from Tokyo
competing with our ragged
and gurgled and shrieked
gargling brackish water
roaring louder than
possessed by our possessions
the pterodactyl screech of engine
and other metal instruments
big metal instruments
big mobile instruments
steel instruments we sometimes said we wished we stole secretly glad we didn’t
because then we wouldn’t see our sweat in the droplets
of humidity that fogged up the windows as we bashed the dunes waving at camel men
in our naked-bellied tomb bats with wheels steel handles that stung our palms clay red
like jellyfish after a long fishing trip leather seats bathed in sun biting our bare backs
Green, Green, and Gone Arthur De Oliveira
my heart is like grass
it gets cut when grown wild
and all that is left is the smell of help
and then thicker blades and then greener leaves.
Between, a Haiku Rosy Tahan
Itâ€™s not Pollockâ€™s fault
paint stains everything except the air it drips through
Persian Shield Nada Almosa
Leanne Talavera Oftentimes, she had a vision:
The days bled into months, and sunlight, into clouds.
beyond the horizon of a sunless, crystalline
her chest seemed to palpitate with the need to just
a single tree towered like a monolith, and
into that need, the more she saw of her beloved
that shouldered an abundance of vibrant,
welcoming her home. And
a field of wheat that stretched out
The more mornings she seemed to wake up to, the more
sky. Somewhere in the distance
disappear. But oddly enough, the more she fell
its branches were serpentine arms
indigo sky, its endless expanse like outstretched arms,
her visions stayed where they were, and
In those visions, she chased that tree, sprinting
things seemed bright enough to shoo them away,
the flesh beneath it. Then, after a few flitting moments,
as she sprinted along its soil, her heartbeat
umbrellaed by a shade that sang to her
into the shadows of its only tree. Soon,
never left. Even when
through the sea of wheat that tickled her skin, and
her field continued to suffocate under her feet
she would be there,
a series of wingbeats the minute she stepped
in hushed whistles.
above her field, only ever hung indigo skies.
That was what she envisioned, whenever she thought about killing herselfâ€”
an imaginary life beyond the living.
Sometimes on that tree, she would find a tire swing, Swaying in the zephyrs. Sometimes,
a rocking chair, scratching against buried pebbles. But what she liked best was the some times that the sky would dip into an
enchanting indigo, a moonless night that only then made her call that field Heaven. It was those times
that made her contemplations of death more tangible.
in a sentimental mood Vamika Sinha
My high school history teacher, Mr Hoosain, would sometimes put on
old Beatles records or Gil Scott Heron and deviate from the syllabus to talk about The Great Gatsby or his life during the apartheid regime in
South Africa. As a young brown Muslim man forced to live and travel only within “colored” zones, he joined local resistance movements
against segregation. One day, he heard that one of his colored friends,
a resistance fighter, had tragically died from a car bomb planted by the authorities. I looked around then, at my “international,” “integrated”
classroom, and felt something cold like an ice block inside my chest. Nobody spoke for a while after that.
One day, I told Mr Hoosain I was thinking about studying literature and he did this thing when he got excited, where his eyes bulged and he started bouncing on his toes. He started to lend me a lot of books after that, his Saturday-morning-in-bed favorites, as he called them. “You’ll like this,” he’d say, handing me a red paperback. “It has a lot of music running
14th St Sabrina Zhao
through it, especially jazz and sixties tracks.” I started making playlists out of the novels, combing through YouTube on school nights. In one book, the music of John Coltrane was described so affectionately, with such
intrigue and wonder, that I looked up the song “In a Sentimental Mood,”
and it sounded like the taste of a sweet cherry. With that, I began tottering on this often bizarre, meandering path of jazz.
In Mr Hoosain’s class, we would spend a lot of time straying into the worlds of music and literature—jazz, rap, paperbacks—and having
spontaneous, passionate discussions that transcended the cliquey
boundaries of high school interaction. “Don’t you see? The Great Gatsby
is not about an ill-fated lover. It’s about the Jazz Age, the swing of a giddy
generation, the money and optimism and the loss of it. It’s about hope— and the American dream. This dream is false, Fitzgerald is trying to say. It’s an alloyed dream, the furthest from gold you can get,” Mr Hoosain
would say, his eyes shining, our eyes shining, all of us replete with new
ideas. I would picture a younger version of him, learning the news of the
car bomb, his friend, and think of how every people and every nation has a dream, each one equally blue and alloyed.
Last year, Mr Hoosain died from a heart attack. I realized the person who
taught me how to unfold the past would now always belong to the past— and remain there for the immeasurable amount of time that is forever.
When I first heard about his death, my initial thought was that I can never go back. I can never go back and talk to him, never thank him for all that he did for me, for all of us, and the words and music he offered me to fill in the coloring lines of my existence. In my mind, a quote from Gatsby
resurfaced: “You can’t repeat the past. You can’t repeat the past.” Now
it’s 1 a.m. in a New York diner, and I suddenly think of Mr Hoosain again. I tell my friend sitting across from me that I had never really cried for
anyone’s death before that. In my head, I remember how every time John Coltrane or Charlie Parker improvised a ripe, delicious solo, it was never played the same again. But generations of students continue to unfold,
inscribing these solos to their memories, hoping to glean some of that same magic themselves.
Tan Tzy Jiun Old Cantonese man with a wrinkly face smiles
As young Malaysian Chinese girl shyly points to the poulet au champignon noir
A reduction of a historical dish to infantile terms in a Colonizer’s language
He fills her takeaway box to the rim and she knows This gesture of nourishment
It reminds her of her late grandmother who would chide her for eating too little
And as he turns to slide the box into the microwave
A stick of bread, to describe the ancient philosophies behind our food and the way we eat them?
A stick of bread, to describe the alienation of 50 million Chinese migrants when their accents are poked fun at, their customs shamed, their beautiful eyes mocked? Vous parlez français?
Je suis… en train de… l’apprendre. He nods
He understood and for the first time since she arrived she felt
She briefly caught a glimpse of Po Po’s silhouette heating up leftovers on
Cutlery or chopsticks?
So of course
the sticky ancestral stove
About not mastering the language just yet
He inquired in Cantonese, holding up a packet of plastic spoon and fork
In an act of solidarity to the smiling old Cantonese man with wrinkly face
European or Asian?
Young Malaysian Chinese girl chooses
on one hand and bamboo chopsticks on the other
Colonized or resisting colonization?
And millions who came before her Les baguettes
Comment on-dit “chopsticks”? “Les baguettes!”
They both laugh because once again the colonizer’s tongue fails to encapsulate their epistemology
A stick of bread, to describe the warmth of laughter-filled reunion dinners where three generations gather on round tables?
Lady Rocket in Israel Sabrina Zhao
The wilderness the vastness the yellowness the greenness
The bigger the better the higher the merrier the slower the grandeur
To the views that I blink at but never know when or how
More trees here and also much milder here than the steep rock mountains
This is no Paris Texas for me
Away from the downstairs of my bedroom where I was told by a friend
Only a tint of red that my sunglasses hold tightly
The vast-land and the vast-sea so gentle and caring but so unreal
I see many landscapes but seeming different from home 455 kilometers
No Ry Cooder on headset, but an unknown mezzo-soprano voice
Whose high school girlfriend fell in love with an Israeli boy three months
Unclear and slow is this melody and so Chloe mistakes as French
And will move to Tel Aviv this summer
Toi et moi
The window, my sunglasses and that transparent cornea, unconscious of
Bronze Venus born in St. Louis with deux amours
My headset running out of the battery now, but I let it go anyway
Sleepy lazy tunes awake me that I finally forgo blinking I retap the phone screen and the title shows: She made a solid guess but not a right one
I look at the unchanging greenness and blueness through blinking
Or the Americana Tejano guitarist would make more sense but
I never met that girl, that friend of my friend, that faceless figure who
Of a girl sitting in a coffee house whose profile face I had a glimpse of
To close my eyes, and listen, that voice I listen to, quietly
Neither occupies me at the moment other than that young Korean voice On a paper cover as I pass by the record section in a bookstore
Is that you, Lady Rocket?
The second time I traveled there and I bought some leather passport cases
For family and for friends who assume no more than kimchi and barbecue Only she hears my silent voices as I hear hers, along those rides Her name is Lady Rocket
City bus, subway, railway, train, intercity bus, taxi, bicycle
Incheon, Gapyeoung, to Namchuncheon and then Hongcheon, Yangyang to Gangneung
There was a lot of sitting, but I imagine elsewhere like I wish
I were in a big van, a giant truck, or an old-fashioned triple-story tour bus
Dear Korea Lauren You Hi Korea. How do you feel about being divided into two?
How should I feel about having to explain that I’m from the southern part of you?
That I probably will not ever get to see you from the other side? There are divisions within you. Gender stereotypes. Girls with pink
cheeks, short skirts, red lips, puffy bangs. I see them everywhere.
It’s a lot of hustling. Fitting in, finding a clique. At dawn I see silhouettes of little kids studying. Their shoulders hunched, their hands moving. Their heads are down but the day’s just begun.
At dusk I see still bodies crammed together inside trains. They’re
unmoving but buzzing silently with joy to be on their way home.
Remember those days when I would sneak into one of the small
convenient stores by the streets and buy those pink junk foods my
mother never approved of? Those were good days. There wasn’t a lot of hustling. Or less, at least.
New Year’s is quite a time to be with you. Fireworks, hot meals, and family reunions. Dishes rich in color and nutrients, neatly lined up in rows.
High spirits all around. There’s a lot of hustling but it’s a good kind of hustling.
It’s a lot of hustling, but I accept that’s what makes you you.
It’s a lot of hustling, but I accept that’s what makes you true.
I accept it all; I accept you in all that you are, in all that you do. Do you?
As the sun sets I see windows light up one by one. Families unite and their metal spoons and chopsticks meet in a delightful tinkling.
Your buildings are undecorated, mundane, and unoriginal. But their surfaces are covered with posts, images, signs, and texts.
It’s a lot of hustling. Can you even breathe through all that?
Girl Surprises All, Saves the World Smrithi Nair
It’s such a shame that no one will get to meet the person who appears in my mirror when the room is empty. She is hilarious, and charming,
and graceful, and confident, and tall. So tall. She’s saved humanity more times than can be kept track of. 3201 times, to be exact. But, of course, who’s keeping count? Besides, she doesn’t do it for fame or anything.
She doesn’t do it because people will be impressed, and then they’ll feel guilty about having the wrong impression of her. They’ll understand that
she pretends to be one of the bad guys to divert suspicion until the very last moment when she reveals her true nature and chooses to sacrifice
herself to save the others. She pushes everyone out of the chamber, out
of harm’s way, locking herself in with the toxic gas in a room whose doors
can only be opened from the inside. But she makes it back alive, because she’s supremely skilled. Only after some serious struggle, of course. A
gunshot wound. In the stomach. But, of course, she wants no credits, no songs composed for her, no letters thanking her, no newspaper article
in awe of her. Girl surprises all, saves the world. None of that. She does
what she does out of the kindness in her heart, and her love for people. Of course.
The best version of myself is not being myself. Which I am completely okay with because being myself is staring at my ringing phone, and
choosing to pretend to be dead instead of answering it. Being shy and introverted, you’d think I’d prefer shorter conversations, but, in my
opinion, they are the worst ones. Especially introductions, oh how I dread introductions. I rehearse saying “Hello, I’m Smrithi” a million times in my head and still get part of it wrong. My name. I can’t even remember the
United Hatim Benhsain
amount of times I have slipped up on my own name. And that’s the thing about names, once you’ve uttered the wrong pronunciation, you can’t
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just correct it. If you do, then you’re the mumbling idiot who doesn’t know
an unjustified sense of confidence and self-assurance, and no logic. In
exactly that mumbling idiot who doesn’t know her own name, but hey,
lower. For you see, in bargaining there’s no room for frivolous things
how to say her own name properly. Now, I am highly aware that I am
other people don’t have to know that. In my defense, I don’t say my own name very often. Who does? Therefore, mistakes are bound to happen. You may keep your judgment to yourself.
Talking is hard when you’re me. I fail to understand people who can just
response to whatever price is offered to you, however reasonable, go
like reason and kindness. Leave them at home. The outside world is a battleground, and you must be armed with obstinacy. So be warned:
bargaining is not something for the weak. I have seen grown adults break down and cry like babies in the aftermath of their bargaining episodes.
talk to anyone, at any place without once looking down at their feet.
You can imagine, bargaining is not something I am particularly good at.
rehearsing the entire speech. And they do this while being articulate and
possibility of human interaction. I would probably end up paying more
They just sit there and talk about stuff without first writing it down and
charming and beautiful all at the same time. These people are downright annoying. And quite honestly, rude. Because I feel there’s a secret that they’re not sharing with those of us who trip on flat ground. There they
Shopkeepers can smell fear, and I reek of it anytime there’s the remote
than what was asked for, and then walk home by myself just to avoid a confrontation with a rickshaw driver.
are, being functional human beings, and here I am, treating myself to a
It is tough. But I am currently working on my people-skills, working
face. And seeing how rarely I eat chocolates, you can tell twenty minutes
transforming into the confident, graceful woman I know I can become
chocolate every time I manage to go twenty minutes without falling on my is a long stretch for me. It’s mostly okay: I don’t like chocolates anyway.
If talking is hard for me, being Indian in India is a whole another story. You would think that I would have figured out how to navigate the country which has been the only home I’ve ever known. But, I don’t know if
you’ve noticed, I am slightly more awkward than the average person.
Just slightly. Back home, there’s a genetic trait that is passed down from
to overcome my fears. It’s been a day and I can already feel myself
—the woman who swears more and apologizes less. Who goes into the world with self-assurance and poise, and isn’t afraid to put herself and her work out there. The woman in the mirror.
On the other hand, living in a cave with three cats and writing anonymous fiction pieces doesn’t sound too shabby.
generation to generation, an ability that great grandmothers and fathers, and their children alike pride themselves on, called bargaining. I am
the exceptional case from whose DNA this trait, along with many other
things, got edited out. So, traveling and shopping are real problems for me. Because you see, traveling by the meter is for the amateurs of the road, the real Indian passenger goes by the much more reliable, and
scientifically accurate, method of being an asshole. The trick is to have
A Thread of Hope Asma Balfaqih
ذات العيون الكحيلة-افنان Asma Balfaqih
Oh, Look! A Street Fair! How Nice! Arthur De Oliveira
Bootleg sources of imagery burned into fear—are under the shade. People giving and receiving alms with a soul of charity. A cracked piece of concrete1 floor evokes
All the spirits of a Sunday morning–post praising God. Local-rivers-not-in-town drag sweet water fish
On an ice pool, and a cheese specimen is exchanged for commodity is, Watched by the cracked skin of a man, and his friend time.
Open a pair of parenthesis and don’t forget about the economic crisis2 The watercolor skin that is moving people
Pressed between-and-against the tight stripes of plastic stands
Supported through rusted iron rods corroded with callused hands
The beauty of observation when one sits on a plastic chair and listens 1
Why doesn’t the local government fix the damn road? I swear to God–driving through this
The boiling sounds of a silver plated (then painted) stove
Powered by an introverted fire of warmth, joy, and quietness
Give life to the bubbles that pluft and ploft into a skin of crispy hard liquor, flour, water, salt and finally all baptized in oil.
On a screeching reflection of light from the tired silver stands The morning dew sleeps tightly—then woken by clumps of
Hunched tomatoes married to thoughtless onions and some juice
That is thrown into the depths of the cheese cave that is an open pastel He was COMICAL AND UGLY3 COMICAL AND UGLY for sure
An air of judgment covered the food stand
Reinforcing the state of confusion and fear. 3
I came here to take a break from uni only to find out the disgusting thing I know everyone on
damn street every day and praying to God my tire doesn’t pop has become a ritual in my life,
campus is trying to avoid. You hear a little bit here—you hear a little bit there–and you are never
but a joke at the local government. I am in a damn car filled with fifteen rabbits. Have you ever
really sure what is true and what is not, but you know something is happening, and its d–i–s–g–
been around rabbits? The frequency in which they defecate and urinate is remarkable, and
u–s–t–i–n–g. Pst … look over there you see—. I don’t know what he does, as usual, but I have
what is even worse–the rabbit stank I have to endure while driving around the city. If my car
heard stories of—and—. You know. No one knows what to do. But our stomachs turn whenever
breaks down, I am going to have to spend another three hours just cleaning the car–after I
we see that. Nobody knows what’s happening, but everybody knows what’s happening.
deliver all these fucking rabbits. Apparently, someone at the government thinks it’s funny. Look Roberval’s tire popped. How is that funny? I don’t understand, I simply don’t understand. 2
Economic crisis? Look around, this place is packed. Every time I come here, I am constantly
reminded that I am the only one in the city buying a single banana. I go to a stand. I am choosing the best banana when some lady shows up, and starts picking all the damn fruit. Who the hell is she feeding? No one likes eating all that fruit, it may be a posh taste. When I bring my kid, all he wants is some fucking biscuit. Then I have to buy it, because the kid won’t shut up. But it is not that bad, I only buy him one. But this leads me into my second point, who is she feeding all that food to? Does she have a fucking hippopotamus in her back yard? I wouldn’t be surprised. Rich people love exotic animals. While they deal with some other continent animal I have to deal with a damn flea infested dog in front of my house. My kid loves the dog, so now I have to split my income with something I don’t even own.
Heroism, what a farce!
Where the water goes and ends up giving fruit
Followed by the judgment of the teeth
Spiked crowns, thick headed seed protectors,
In the paradoxical impulses of the mind Lips and the eventual hammer of pain lost in the head.
Clusters of cages which contain circular juices Pulps of dreams5 plucked from vines
Our multicolor purities—nom—on the munches of street food
Into what purse? What plastic—Do they go?
Devour the wind of silence until the thirst of a
Cracked feet, tired feet, or simply one
Pure plastic places of rest and the road side of dust
Squawking child emerges and begs for more and more
Flip-flop, shoes or skin clustered to the ground. Coming from a bicycle, walking, or simply a car.
The right season brings the right chunk of nature’s gifts4
—me on a road, a child, chewing sugar cane root
That erupts and shakes compactly in one’s mouth until
—me on a road, a child, chewing sugar cane root
A round eyed pure black pupiled iris from a tree
Ploft—Ploft, a sea of pure ecstasy from the clam fruit erupts
From staring too long at trees I have become a tree From staring too long at trees I have become a tree
Woven fabric from overseas compose the thick forest Of linen, jeans, and other bugigangas become lost Alone and midway upon the journey of life
The straightforward pathway had been lost
Look rotten fruit, everywhere. You see this caju? See it? Look here, I am going to open it.
My nutritionist told me to buy all these things. It apparently will help me lose weight. Fresh
Rotten from inside, rotten from outside. Only in this country! Do people sell other people rotten
made Kale juice with lemon, and some other thing I don’t like the taste of. It’s a sacrifice worth
fruit? That’s why this country isn’t going anywhere. ROTTEN FRUIT. We don’t even grow cajus
taking. I haven’t looked that good since I was five. I turn on the television and see all these
here. This is the God damn southeast. The weather isn’t humid at all, it’s also winter. You want
beautiful women. Their slim and athletic physique, I admire it all while I sit back slouched over
caju? Wait three months, take a bus or an airplane and move northeast. Go there. If you want
my couch with a homemade corn flavored ice cream in hand. I bought the ice cream over
to stay here, try out corn. The corn is beautiful. Look you can make Curau, Canjica, Pamonha
there, it’s really good, some man named Arnaldo makes it. Either way, I go back to my salon
Assada, Cuscuz Paulista. You smiled when I said that? I saw it. Look, look, if you don’t want to
and guess what people talk about. The actresses on television and the extreme diet these
make all this stuff but you want all this stuff. It’s simple. We have it here. Look, look …
people are on. Both men and women talk about it. I am telling you I am going to be the next top actress in the country. I got a whole plan right here in my head.
#jesuis Hatim Benhsain American Sreerag JR
Ink on paper
Self-Diagnosing Missingness in the Body Arthur de Oliveira
A round, fat, opaque dot found itself existing within my bloodstream …
Symptoms persist and the tectonic plates of the soul move.
Bacterial font size it cannot exist, but it chooses to do so.
Dr. A round, fat, opaque dot diagnoses a dream of heartaches.
Swarming in the bee hive of my body it turns blood into bitter honey.
Lava filled gazes emerge from the cracks of the eye’s iris.
It leaves puff clouds which flood a flow of blood. It has found a new home
Missingness hits hard from nostalgic dreams.
and it won’t leave.
Symptoms persist and the tectonic plates of the soul move.
Swarming in the bee hive of my body it makes bitter honey.
A repetition of sorrows brings life somewhere and somehow.
It leaves puff clouds which flood a flow of blood. It has found a new home
But the weight of prescriptions wears off and then a wish for no more.
It locks my chest and swallows the key. Goodbye says its hand while it
A repetition of sorrows brings life somewhere and somehow.
It buys real estate within my body and grows all scars once healed. and it won’t leave. swings.
Dr. A round, fat, opaque dot diagnoses a dream of heartaches.
It forgets to pay the rent. With my nails I dig a ditch deep within my chest. But the weight of prescriptions wears off and then a wish for no more.
It buys real estate within my body and grows all scars once healed
I stick my hand. My head. My other arm and now I am stuck.
It locks my chest and swallows the key. Goodbye says its hand while it
It forgets to pay the rent. With my nails I dig a ditch deep within my chest.
A veiled cloud of smoke erupts within my heart and glues to my skin. swings.
Pollen swarmed across the body, it flowers into two than three than four. Symptoms persist and the tectonic plates of the soul move.
Face to face. the dot engulfs my pupils. opaque, now I am out. Everythingness, hello.
I stick my hand. My head. My other arm and now I am stuck.
A round, fat, black dot found itself existing within my bloodstream …
Bioearthquakes then crumble the psychology of the mind.
Dr. A round, fat, opaque dot diagnoses a dream of heartaches.
The prescribed moss coat of horrors takes me on a wild thought trip. Symptoms persist and the tectonic plates of the soul move. Floods of memories drown the fresh air of longing.
Dr. A round, fat, opaque dot diagnoses a dream of heartaches.
A heart ballroom of waltzing longings slow down and disappear.
Serendi Pity Amal Al Shamsi How am I me and you ... How am I here and you, too. The little hand chases its own tail, trapped in a circular cage. Iâ€™ll never know you, or you me. Yet all it takes is that second second. Need and Abundance must have thought nothing of their meeting then hatched Greed. What is control when even chance encounters create ripples. Human Luis Carlos Soto
A fool for happenstance, So that no action will go unnoticed, life must not be a riot of absolute free will. Am I no more than a wave relying on the stalking moon? Perhaps, falling into a pit is less painful when you have been pushed. Drown in illusions: the world would not be as it is had we not been here.
On My Spine, A Manual Amal Al Shamsi Don’t hold her,
It’ll soften the lump in her throat. Lay her out like concrete, Wait for her to grow stiff. The lump in her throat,
A guard against foolish words. Wait for it to grow stiff,
Lest embarrassments slip out like silk. Guard against foolishness,
Fear the unleashed tongue.
Recall how embarrassments slip; How blots of th-ink-ing stain silk. Fear not the unleashed tongue, But the growing barbs.
Blots of th-ink-ing stain silk. Will it ever be the same? The growing barbs,
Nourished by the absence of comfort. Will it ever be the same? If you don’t hold her.
Monito Luis Carlos Soto
To be read aloud Tan Tzy Jiun
I feel too much Like a high voltage hairdryer blowing out of control trying to carry out a simple task
I spin trying to do this and that and this and that and here and there and here and there
Like a sugar rush after a bag of gummy bears a jar of Nutella a basket of marshmallows
I do what I should not be doing chasing after a high I know I will regret Like a poacher poaching a precious animal little known to world to extinction
I prey on my sensitivity my willingness to trust my innocence my desire to connect with someone
Like fireworks that do not seem to end one hour two hours three hours bang bang bang
I blind myself and burn and rocket through envious stars stealing the moonlight
I MAKE YOU WATCH ME DIE IN BLINDING EXPLOSIONS
Once During Meditation Sherry Yongyi Wu Pen and ink on paper
Like a cut wrist blood spurts everywhere staining everything white
screaming the kill before slumping down in complete weakness
I go for too much try to feel pleasure and pain too hard make accidents I
have to remember for life slip facedown on my own mistakes get an irreversible concussion they call it brain damage
I call it an adventure Like the cockroaches who survived the nuclear missiles when everyone has died or disappeared or irreversibly upside down whole bodies tumored buildings rendered to complete dust
I stay and stay and stay and give more give more give more give more
trust trust trust trust GRIT my teeth and hold on believe in his best believe in us believe in love
Love love love in my genetic makeup (I cannot deny my vulnerability)
I feel too much and maybe tend to think too little but look into yourself and ask if you feel as exhilarated as I do even on my calmer days
I bet you donâ€™t.
Amal Al Shamsi Footsteps the pace of good honey,
Knees padded with lilies softens the blow,
Legs sealed with magnets repel other attractions, Spine filled with lead to be always malleable, Waist held in place by that foreign touch, Stomach never full until it is filled,
Shoulders wear shields of silk against the worldâ€™s burdens, Neck weighed down by treasures for demurity, Ears are intricate seashells, ornate but hollow, Eyes replaced with pearls accept all things,
Mind stuffed with cotton absorbs the leaks,
Heart pliant like baked clay makes for easy sharing, Words as transparent as her mirrors though not as many, Breath quiet to not disturb the balance of the universe,
If only her resolve could stay as stubborn as a sandcastle by the sea.
My Pillow Book Aiman Khurram
Fog: Morning fog in Abu Dhabi is a strange phenomenon. A phenomenon more common now in my senior year than it has been ever before. Perhaps because I spent my last two springs abroad. Yet the fog was very much there this fall too, I donâ€™t remember it being there
previous falls. I have spent all my falls in Abu Dhabi for the past four years, at a place that has become home. A home that is plush and
comfortable, a home I will leave once again as I graduate in less than three months. A home I love yet crave to leave because it feels like the time has come. A feeling too familiar from four years ago when
I left Islamabad and its foggy winter mornings. I still remember that
fog and watching my father return from his morning runs, his orange running jacket drenched in dew. I always found that color hideous. I never understood what made him buy a jacket in that color at his
age. I saw that jacket a few days ago tossed over a chair as I video called â€œhomeâ€? and was talking to my father. My first thought was
that the jacket had survived a long time; my second thought was the nostalgic memory of my father wearing it on foggy winter morning runs.
Falleras Suraiya Yahia
Enchanting smells/scents: The smell of freshly brewed coffee The men you love
Chanel Coco Mademoiselle
Petrichor: smell of the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather
The faint smell of jasmine flowers on hot monsoon nights Bergamot
The smell of sea
Pine trees in Murree hills
and if yes, with whom? But can this question ever be answered so
Warm chocolate cookies
ever understand what love is? Did you truly love someone or was it
Strawberries and cherries Freshly laundered clothes
The scent of newborn babies Mint tea
Old books and Old bookstores Repulsive smells/scents: Strong Oud on random Emiratis Caked up make-up New York subway Fried mushrooms Gym sweat Feet
Old coconut water
Smell of another woman on the man you love Love: When someone asks me if I have ever been in love, I never know how to answer. I have never truly understood love; I think I have
never been in love. How can I know if I have been in love or am in
love when I don’t know what it means to be in love? Perhaps I have loved and I just didn’t know. Perhaps I think I did love and actually didn’t. Point being you can never tell, in hindsight nostalgia is too
strong and memories too blurred. In present, you’re too swooned.
You can never really know. I hate it when those in “love” boast that you just know it when it happens. For me, I was pretty sure one
particular time but turns out it was my mind’s spectacularly grand
trick to evade boredom. I knew it, yet I didn’t know. I let myself be fooled. This is usually an answer way more complicated than the
easily? Maybe by those who understand it. But then, can you really merely a complicated blend of infatuation, convenience, availability,
lust and boredom? My biggest fear is to love someone and not know that I loved them, to let them go and then on some random day
years later an epiphany strikes me, and I realize I loved them. What a sad life. But is thinking you’re in love and finding out years later that you’ve never been, worse? I guess I’ll never know.
Bridges: Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge,
Harvard Bridge, Sydney Harbor Bridge, London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Tower Bridge, Bridge of Sighs (Oxford), Bridge of Sighs (Venice), Bridge of Sighs (Cambridge), Mathematical Bridge,
Ponte Vicchio, Rialto Bridge, Bridge of Peace, Nine Arches Bridge Demodara, Qasr al-Nil Bridge, Suez Canal Bridge, Bosphorus
Bridge, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, MacArthur Causeway, Zero Point Interchange, Azadi Chowk Lahore, Sheikh Zayed Bridge.
Coffee: My love for coffee is almost a rebellious act. Coming from a land under years of colonization, my ancestor’s colonizers (or mine?)
imbedded two things very deeply within my people; insecurities and an undying love for tea (chai). You drink chai with breakfast, after
lunch, in the evening, after dinner, with guests and without guests,
on weddings, on funerals, when you’re sad and when you’re happy, basically all the time. It’s safe to say that Pakistan has a strong
tea culture (imagine the West’s drinking culture except with tea as the beverage). I would like to advance this allegory and claim that Pakistan has a drinking problem too.
questioner intends for it to be. People just want to know, yes or no,
Anyways, imagine growing up in such a land and preferring coffee! You’re an instant rebel, a wannabe “gora” (white person), a burger
(someone who is Westernized in a negative sense), an outcast. Not
that the world abroad understood me any better, people look at me funny at this “global leader’s institution” when I order a decaf latte
or a cappuccino. What person let alone a perpetually sleep deprived college student drinks a decaf? It’s very hard explaining people my
love for coffee yet attempting to keep my caffeine consumption low and my hydration intact. What better option than a decaf version of
a beverage I am in love with? But the world is a judgmental place no matter where you are.
Markets: Camden Lock Market, Borough Market, Covent Garden
Market, Portobello Road Market, Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Boston)
Chinatown Manhattan, Chelsea Market (NY), Raja Bazar, Moti Bazar, Liberty Market, Anarkali (Lahore), Urdu Bazar, Hell’s kitchen, Grand Bazar (Istanbul), Spice Bazar, Khan el-Khalili (Cairo), Central Souk
(Abu Dhabi), Carpet Souk, Camel Souk, Gold Souk, Madinat Zayed, Dubai Spice Souk, Mina Port, San Lorenzo (Florence), Flea Market Dry Bridge (Tbilisi), Nizami Küçəsi (Baku), İçərişəhər (Baku), The Rocks Markets (Sydney), Paddy's Haymarket.
Angélique Kidjo Hatim Benhsain Watercolor on paper
To Be a Woman Aiman Khurram
To be your own person is hard
But to be your own woman is even harder For they try to limit you
You, who are a lover
But, which one of you will they burn?
a passionate hater
You, who are a wife
Or You, who are a housewife
a stay-at-home mom
Or You, who are an artist
a painter a writer
Or You, who are Fearless
You, who are a believer a skeptic
an agnostic an atheist?
You, who are Veiled
Or You, who are a Dadaist
an Existentialist a Stoicist
You, who are Orthodox
Traditional Conservative Conformist Non-Conformist Unconventional? Or
To be your own person is hard
But to be your own woman is even harder “But when I start to tell them, They think I’m telling lies.”
You, who are Dependent
Independent Roaring Silent?
For they try to limit you Box you
But, which one of you will they burn?
You, who are a Drake-fan
a Classical enthusiast a Kurt Cobain-ian?
Or You, who glides at Le Bal, Paris
tattoos in Brooklyn parlours
cleans the slums in Karachi?
Stroll Tom Abi Samra
The seventh issue of the NYUAD journal of student creative worjk.