Reviews:

 

1

http://tinfisheditor.blogspot.com/2016/01/a-future-introduction-to-work-of-maged.html

2

https://www.seattlereviewofbooks.com/reviews/strange-bedfellows/

3

https://hyperallergic.com/444241/maged-zaher-opting-out-early-new-and-collectedpoems-2000-2015-chatwin-books-2018/


 

Selections:

 

Early Poems

[Exile Sequence]

 

7

she told me about the tricks for staying anorexic & that the light shatters in her afternoons & turns the whole photography assignment into an exercise in loneliness & i doubted her: there is no penalty for not answering your phone – it is the map you dream that you will touch in the graduation party – & they are beautiful kids who will never make it to Stanford or Oklahoma State & please please stop figuring out things & live with ambiguity or settle for getting stuck in an echo because the fibers of phrases are good enough to feed the wild animals and at the edge of the pedestal pray using the vocabulary of the random sky; don’t scream: just breathe the rest of us and hope for a divine intervention that catches you falling backward from a burning train


 

11

there are no beautiful brown bags here; so opt for less wisdom  than the zen master from Kentucky & ask for her phone number & go to the picnic;


 

16

thanks for the stereotypical gestures guys & for your kindness – i almost forgot that the sky is green & that we have to start the boycott early this year. i have to address one of you in person (pick one at random & tell him what do you think of the other) – but don’t mention the downtime at work when we have to stop high rate production & reflect on the market direction. now that there is no problem with photography we do it all in one burst then we breathe harder in the mountains & long for effective communication. who will take us from the individual islands & stop breaking promises & missing appointments without timely cancellations. wait for some third person before heading to Europe – there are no moons there & the sky is hidden or at least stop at the borders & buy tobacco at sales price before you come back home for the extremely competitive real estate & salty appetizers … also tell him that the boycott is almost useless & that he must find other ways to get his voice heard


 

[Simple Colonial Encounters]

 

1

it is heartbreaking to be here or there

the departure points are arbitrary

although occasionally described otherwise

it is tangential then to fall into this trap

the tears that we accumulated while smoking

outside the building were arbitrary too

& made it feel like a movie

what we wasted then was time & political

participation: i can explain lust straightforwardly

but i missed the fire while escaping it

so she started asking all the difficult questions:


 

5

the ones who stayed

on the dance floor were hungry

& made no sense

when spoken to. even

the cops didn’t show them

any understanding

despite the astonishingly accurate details,

they told, about their grave loneliness

they were obsessively touching

each other’s face in the parking lot

the whole scene was against the law

tonight, i am in the mood to listen for

some sweeping generalization

for example: the sky is starry &

our only dilemma is ourselves

tonight, like every night, there

is little room for certainties


 

9

you move as if you were trained from childhood

to inhabit someone else’s country

facts change as we change languages between conversations

& as you change your favorite

form of anguish while telling

your story to a future lover

hoping that she is worth

this sweet manipulations, & that

– eventually – she will understand your fake

humility & keep up with your sex drive


 

10

fact: a lover can’t replace a country

fact: they will always like your story

fact: the moment you left Mexico all humans turned into symbols

fact: you can’t fall in love with symbols

Jackie, the mirrors stopped reflecting us; an exile is a ripped apart

palindrome; a negative simulacrum; original that can’t be copied;

this is to say: “utterly lonely;” this is also to say: “what these

mother fuckers call reality is the exact definition of hell.”


 

New Poems

 

4

I wish you were here at MOMA

Negotiating whether the world is made of processes or objects

And we split the same coffee cup

While looking at sculptures

You can still hate NY

And I will convince you it is an okay place

I would be lying

It is actually fantastic

But it is 4:43 here

Which means it is 1:43 in Seattle

And I text you “the world is fine”

Then I feel bad for saying so

The world is fucked

Yet you are alive

And I might be too


 

10

I chronicle your sincerity

And make a career out of tracing people with multiple shadows

In the middle of a meal you jump into a stream of cars

Between traffic lights, I dream you are holding my hands

It is acceptable to be kind but we aren’t

All this exposure to daily monsters

All these times we ignored the ones asking for our change

Climb on me like a tarantula

The world goes on


 

12

The paganism

Of a body moving

Toward androgyny

@@

You destroyed our inner circle

With your crayons

@@

It is good to exist

It is also good for our tongues to touch

@@

Our mythologies have different resurrection rules

But hey

As we pray, our bodies – similarly – shrink


 

13

Holding onto the stability of a diagnosis

This kneeling is full

In my minor leaning toward you

There is an evasion of joy

Of its missing words…

You utter a good goodbye

And a hatred envelops me

Awaiting a spectacle

Shifting from love to hatred to love to hatred etc.

Looking from a mirror

At the bad shapes of the world


 

17

Oh we wish

That whoever we wish

When we are alone

Wishes us

When they are ever alone

Themselves

translated from the Arabic of Abbas Ibn al-Ahnaf


 

26

At 6:00 a.m.

With you in my arms

I could believe in God

I will even pray

And send thank you notes

To all the angels

We are half water

Half advice columnists

And the rest is love


 

33

We entered difficult tunnels

To learn to unfeel our thighs

Time wasn’t precious

The red vans left the airport

In a certain aftermath of hardships

The journalists arrived at civilization

To find us scarred by love

As beauty standards were already in place

We looked at trees

And spat blood

We were behind on feelings

The city was due for collective tears

We switched to small boats

And under heavy fire

We lived bad lives


 

38

The bourgeoisie rob us of the intensities of life and hand us

cubicles, lean management practices, and ice bucket challenges.

The bourgeoisie and us rob the poor of life and hand them charity

drives and corporate matching.


 

40

You don’t have the hand of the victim

In a body of hunted meat

Death is our sole property

Tearing apart our bodies

To write a sentence by sentence

Refutation of sleep

I’m comfortable

I’m also your Mexican gardener

But not patriotic enough

We land here as converts

The tea backs us up

Each blood clot an art work


 

45

There is no distance with God

Except the broken glass of communism

Travel again

Into a sandstorm

I heard death is kind…

You need to keep up with its silence

Is it okay to stay secular?

Surprisingly the clouds

And us

Us