Marwa Helal

the middle east is missing

wha do osama bin laden and i have in common? saddam? qaddafi? mubarak? sharon? peres? is kashmir? is asia? is persia? is europe? is iran? is jordan? is kurd? a language? a religion? cuisine? borders on bordering? wha do you and i have in common? red sea dead sea an empire syria iraq say kurd say we were occupied a people under siege of make xenophobia believe drink and say, “zamzam.”

say we did it to ourselves. say: complicit. i want to walk/ return maps speak to managers of mapmakers id like to see god’s atlas compare it to ours trace a new equator a river nile still running azure azure upwards its own gravity joins scapegoat to scapegoat in song: row row row your boat gently down a stream merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream x3 say je suis zidane, je suis egyptienne.

say it to a rhythm not a plot a quality not a toxin say dizzy without jury without trial ask of us just us sing back lyric dust off vulgar gaslight

say it in the colonizer’s tongue. call it the cradle of civilization say dunyah say la illahah ila allah say jannah inscribe your history inside every barren closet you once occupied say quickly here we are now entertain us/ cartographers agitate us exact us excise us

would you make a space for me? between zoot jute epoxy and a hard place somewhere between vengeance and yolk next to the place you go to quake

ive brought my own pillow plus sleeping bag but now the letters have become cryptic i cant tell if it is because of shyness or lack of interest when you look like me you can say things no one will question or everyone will question you in june as a zygote in uterus in excess

maybe it is a cry for help. maybe it is just a cry. say palestinian say palestine say syria say syrian say baby say future say mine say yemen say yemeni say zay (like) say hena (here) say mine say ghost in context weep quietly then wail so make a space for me in your mind. make me a space graph, transcribe. jaunt, wax, wane. here is neruda. here is his book of questions. here is mine. a quiz of sorts. this is the map i navigate by.

who you pulling from bricks? a baby? an arm? books? a ball? who’s is it? you ask coaxing at gallons of quicksand absorbing and vying for joy, for protozoa

pray static pray jaw pray zoroastrian pray xanax pray quickly borrow what you will from god, from vagrancy, from vacancy

before i left i wrote: where you from? where you from? where you from? inside every empty closet of the homes i once occupied. dont forget where youre from, dont squint. zoom in. stow the box, lock the key. jump on.

we made a new map from breath from zone to zone we moved, traveled, walked, journeyed. there are many who experience what we havent quote benefited from being unquote.

maybe a cry for help, maybe jus a cry. maybe a memory quivering of a juvenile kingdom’s lie, maybe was a zealous royal who unleashed sand and sphinx making borders die: in yellow, blue, green, and red, orange and cream lines.

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