Reviews:

 

https://www.blackocean.org/blog/2014/9/4/microreview-maged-zahers-if-reality-doesnt-work-out


 

Selections:

 

2

We are bankers

We are also romantics

Despite the sore genitals

And the shadows of doubt

To be honest

We are all fucked

So, let me exact my revenge

One line break at a time


 

4

I live in a world made out of halved lovers

And I’m running out of time

To have spent the last ten years

Growing or shrinking my body fat

Or as a member of few poetic schools

(Without them knowing it)

This is to signal that death will erase each of us

And the business of life is to amuse one another

Until some annoying angel comes

To enact the duties of his low-paying job


 

15

What if reality doesn’t work out

Because there are areas of the brain

That are damaged by love

To think of freedom and progress is boring

But this is where I bought you flowers

To take a break from the consequences of despair


 

27

All these trips to MOMA eventually devour us

Despite the obviousness of the fact that nothing defeats death

And all these disparate friendships hit me

They will make aging harder

I understand minimalism now

And this continuous state of longing

To have multiple lives

Because one is perfectly damaged by poetry


 

29

Morning seductions don’t usually work

Yet they are good to generate poems

We are here to explain how to collapse the right way

This is not as profound as it sounds

So I need to exaggerate

Every time I am here I feel sad

I tell myself a whole list of lies

I will ask my phone for a lunch spot

And compare it to the one you told me


 

30

This is a song about loss

I am mourning the interchangeability of words

As I am writing this, someone’s world is ending

The poet seduces nobody which is good news

Tonight I can write the saddest lines

Or the sweetest lines

Balancing doubt with the movement of my body

Tonight, even the finite seems unfathomable


 

35

Engineers build a world they don’t witness

A mannequin with well-drawn breasts

Comes back from death

I am no symbolist

This poem is well-grounded in class struggle

It litters the world with small disasters

Filled with half sentences

Back to this business of being an outsider

They will leave before you finish your meal

There is something consoling about that


 

47

I listen to the Sufis and I cry from my inability to know

A clichéd saying is that one starts dying the moment of birth.

When visiting Cairo, I start my goodbyes to places and friends

the moment I land in the airport. Each action is threatened—

while it is performed—to be the last of its own kind. Eventually

these threats and uncertainty disappear: For sure, this time, it

will be my last time sitting at coffee shop X; for sure, this will be

my last time having a drink with friend Y, etc… —A trip to Cairo

is an act of pure erasure of one’s own traces, each at a time. I

dream of writing a text that matches—formally—these carefully watched,

doubted, and erased footsteps. A blank text isn’t it, as

something remains, a recognition of incompletion, or a longing

that lingers. I am aware this promised text will be a failed attempt

at representation of time and my own melancholy. Before even

heading to Cairo, I can imagine myself sitting in Cairo airport,

on my way back to the States, and in between, a block of time

that I know will capture nothing, because there is nothing to be

captured, and I think, trying to find a purpose, an immigrant is

just someone who is deeply implicated in the problem of time.


 

51

A life mediated by tea—We didn’t have to leave the ghetto—

Or temper with punctuation—Cabs are everywhere—I am a

translator of information—Into information—I brag about my

bad text—Embedded is the knowledge that I lost fluency in Arabic

and didn’t acquire it in English—So I operate despite the notion

of the poet as a master of language—I operate specifically because

I am not a master of any language


 

80

Love triangles demand precision

Climbing small hills

Or pouring wine on plants

Or holding a cock without closing a single eye

Enjoy your musical range

Je suis malade

It is a background for the mopping

I wish you knew life is endangered


 

87

Life costs much

In five dollar bills

With half a moon

Dragging a wish to the universe

In the advice of walking

In lying there

Awaiting death or love or both

This city confuses its trees

With kindness

More friends are waiting


 

89

The poor don’t exist

They die

Then reincarnate even poorer

Trapping nightmares

An excuse for voice over

And flying objects exporting intimacies

Try us again tomorrow

We would have marked the streets

With over-the-counter banalities


 

95

Searching for one’s own bones

In artifacts scattered

Over multiple bodies

This is to await constructive feedback

Upon failed intimacy

Split this Korean dish with me

Then complement it with sadness

This hope is dire

And it needs the war skills

Acquired over years of poems


 

96

All I can afford

Is a small-scale metaphysics

Enough to run a rented apartment

With borrowed Wi-Fi—

In order to watch a faraway war

Or book maintenance appointments

A small enough metaphysics

To invite an angel or two over

And cook them hot water

In exchange of divine secrets

A small epistemology

To go with it

So I can read cookbooks

And cartoons about Spinoza

Or few Haikus