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i

In a dream, I juggle
film reels, watch them fall
at my feet; sad and lonely

creatures. The strips spill out
like blood. In another dream, I clean
the tears of men

I don’t even know. I wake
and hold my camera anxiously.
I avoid lens flares

because they’re only good
for hiding, but oh, do I filter
like a motherfucker – did

you know you look
great in black and white?

Marwan tells me and I

thank him for his keen
eye. It is true: I like things
simple whereas my own

color always seemed
to scare me.

 

ii

Movie stars also scare me. There’s a hole in my cranium where Soad Hosni and Faten

Hamama have found a home. Farid El Atrash sings on my broken rib. Studio Era music

makes me want to dress fancy and pretty; leave the house in gorgeous armor, but I know

too well the earth’s hunger and I will not satisfy it. Today I leave my house and I make

sure no one can call me faggot. I struck a balance once and it gave me a headache.

 

Yesterday, I cried while trying to figure out what to wear so I just didn’t leave the house,

spent the night naked in my bed instead, and I still couldn’t find my reflection in the

mirror this morning. All I saw was beard and anger, shivering skin: كفايةخولنة بقى. At night

I spring to my bed, pull the covers over my convulsing body like the sea sweeps over the

sand.

 

iii

marwan laughs doesnt believe me when i say instagram is my defense mechanism i am
tired of movies i am tired of hiding behind screens facebook feels like a burden someday
i will burn every image ever taken of me and then ill cry over the embers and then ill ask
someone to capture what i only assume will be a cinematic scene then ill want to go
home and hide break open the walls make a nook barely big enough for my body not
even my phone will fit ill hide there where no one would think to look then ill cry
because no one will look fragile faggot foreign body i am why would the world make me
a headline i do not ask that you love me for everything i hated about myself i only ask
you laugh with me when i fall on my face which is often i only ask you to hold my hand
when i stare at myself in the morning i know what youre thinking yes you can be scared
of your own face mine looks back at me with anger grits its teeth challenges me to a fist
fight i lock eyes with myself and all i see is burning hazel a bonfire i throw bones and
tatters in isnt this the part where abdelhalim calls for me where is my song give me my
song and maybe i will come out of the wall

 

iv

Yes,

there is a way
to define oneself
in this skin
without violence.

No,

I have not
found said way,
yet. I know no metaphor
untethered to death.

v

Again,
my mother tells me:

بحبك موت

And I know this too is poetry;
red rose out of ash.

Yes,

I am also afraid of beauty.
I don’t smile on the subway.

Before the 4th of July, I dream
a large man spits
on me
on the subway.

 

vi

I’ve lost interest in Independence Day(s).
I’ve grown tired of blood piercing the night
sky.

What does it mean to be independent
                                      anyway?

The Egyptian economy still floats on Saudi and American money.
My mother is still married to my father.
I hide my skin in the summer.

I define myself by that which makes me hate myself.

I learn history through screens; relegate my body to pixels and texts –
my voice a midnight whisper under the covers.

I hide in dark, deafening rooms where no one expects me to speak.

Hazem Fahmy is a poet and critic from Cairo. He is an Honors graduate of Wesleyan University’s College of Letters where he studied literature, philosophy, history and film. His debut chapbook, Red//Jild//Prayer won the 2017 Diode Editions Contest and is forthcoming in 2018. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming in Apogee, HEArt, Mizna, and The Offing. His performances have been featured on Button Poetry and Write About Now. He is a reader for the Shade Journal, a poetry editor for Voicemail Poems, and a contributing writer to Film Inquiry. In his spare time, Hazem writes about the Middle East and tries to come up with creative ways to mock Classicism. He makes videos occasionally.

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