Jess Rizkallah wrote this after rereading Ocean Vuong's Night Sky With Exit Wounds.
Copy Of 9.9 Notebook Fragments
you know, i’m scared of everything but you can’t tell b/c i never!!! joke about it on the internet
new rule: if you don’t write a luv poem abt it then it doesn’t exist & it’s probably just gas
i am always searching for the moon. maybe instead of blood, i am full of moths.
أنت القمر في حياتي
summer solstice - when the sun yawns for a long time but its breath smells good
summer solstice - when fireflies hatch from the empty wombs of bullet cases
everything is softer unfolding from the tree trunk dusk
of the throat / i wonder how many times arabic has had
to let a lover down easy
look at all the rooms i am
look at all the windows
opening and closing
wind and wind and wind
last night i had tears in my eyes about my jido afif
but for the first time in months they were because
jido wrote ghazals & still lives
in the meter of them
somewhere on the wind & wind & wind
& i don’t agree that
non brown folks approaching
ghazals is an appropriation.
i’m told by other brown folks that
this is what i should
believe, but i don’t.
i want everyone to be so honest about their love. about their longing, to face it where it lives
in the space between loss & the sun
sometimes this is the only place love can live.
i don’t know if this makes me complicit with
the colonizers i don’t know if i care
this is my privilege
one day i will write a ghazal
when it stops feeling like
a windtunnel my love can’t
write itself out of.
الزهور تتفتح على لسانك
* out of the corner of my eye, my arm keeps
tricking me into thinking it’s on fire.
i think it’s because of my new eyeliner but lately i always
feel like my eyes were just crying even when i haven’t
the last few people i cried about will never know it.
will never suspect. this makes me feel sneaky
this makes me feel clever. this makes me feel sad.
this makes me feel better than the alternative would.
the alternative: my heart is two paper cranes
i go to hand you one of them you smile
but do not extend your hand
the alternative: you do not water my plants when i am gone
the alternative: all the windows closed
the alternative: وفاة اسمي في فمك
- - - - new rule: there should only be one month of summer & winter
the rest should be fall & spring. i could never live on the west coast or
any coast that keeps reminding my body that it’s a body
& not an oak tree birch tree cedar
dear massachusetts dept. of revenue: why is ur office in new york
please do not arrest me over 47 dollars. your money is on its way
abdelhalim taught me that “tobah” means never again
never again will i love you (that’s not guaranteed)
never again will i call your name into the night (i never did that)
instead i sing like grackles do under the high notes of bulbuls
i ride the coattails of their stories at dusk when the fireflies
distract from my ankles & no one watches that closely anyway
is there anything scarier than that to finally stop
to take a breath to find yourself alone
a room with no wind forgive me
for navel-gazing i just /
want you /
to know /
that i love you
so i keep singing. so i just keep singing.
An ongoing conversation between writers and the text that they're reading.