Zaina Alsous


after Solmaz Sharif

Ya’aburnee—may you bury me, says a lover in Arabic
             Whereas not all Arabs speak the same language

Whereas we visit the ruins of Byblos, to look at the remnants of Rome
             Byblos may have been occupied seven thousand years before Christ

Whereas It is complicated because it is a sacred place and we do not want to use live ammunition
             Said the IDF spokesman when Israeli snipers surrounded the Church of Nativity

Whereas Samir the bell-ringer is shot in the chest and wrapped in plastic
             Whereas the Palestinian residents of Bethlehem were unable to bury their dead

Whereas what is the sound that makes God
             Believe your side of the story

Whereas Palestinian refugees in Lebanon still cannot own land
             Whereas my parents are born as tourists to the ruins

Whereas in the United States the Muslims are ruining this country
             Whereas on the 11th of September I see my father cry for the first time

Whereas my father teaches me the short syllables of Alhamdulillah and
             Democracy Whereas the diagnosis of patriot will not cure enemy

Whereas during an anonymous phone call he is told to go back to Iran
             I visit his refugee camp at the outskirts of Beirut in clean sneakers

Whereas in my sole authorized nation it is my civic duty to vote
             For the candidate who will administer more polite death

Whereas the fantasy of love is also a fantasy of return
             I wanted you in the damp green; slow as rot, a home of gape

Whereas Frida names a drawing “Ruin” and dedicates it to Diego
             Whereas with my fingers inside of you I don’t know if I am looking

For monument or erosion
             Whereas here is when I find a way to ruin the moment

Whereas you buried me
             In the wrong plot, on the wrong graph, in the wrong bell of time

Whereas I don’t get to touch the yarrow laid at my tomb
             There is always something left behind that is never mine

Abortion Fantasy

in The city I am most ravenous
red thread cable a throat
a poem about revision I am
cells roam unopposed
refuses to exit the uterine border
The city only wants the stranger
me with commerce
we are most dangerous
and I conjoined with notes
of biology state hood I
the stranger as
cells before revealing
The city does not want the stranger
see women’s pod see eugenics
procedures The city subsidizes
begging complicit blood plots
Genital form to offer more than
The city does not want the stranger
a carnivorous womb trap heliamphora
an invasive species of clit
the stillborn mushroom body forcing
an occasion of treason

fist fulls of
escape route this is
arable but echo
the stranger
I patrol and part
when it fills
in here the stranger
undesignated by outbreak
will scrape
a strain of
our conspiracy
see sister sterilization
board election or elective
I come and go
between sore
I want
I want
I want

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Zaina Alsous is a daughter of the Palestinian diaspora and an abolitionist. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in The Offing, decomP, The Margins, Radius, Glass, Best New Poets 2017, and elsewhere. Currently she is an MFA candidate at the University of Miami.