By Miriam Gabriel / Maryam Imam
(Written a day after the third debate between Clinton and Trump,
after which it was reported that the candidates did not shake each other’s hands)
What do I know of the life of a scholar
Watching eyes like cameras reading me back
The laundromat TV opens two faces like a book
I can’t avoid the perfect hairdos and blue eyes
Duck behind book defer intention, an entanglement
that might as well be silent until war’s declared.
Prepare for silenced with silence and scholarly
license/labor. Prepare for past revolutionary lyrics
whose time has passed. Prepare for the
ticking bomb of a reframing, mourning’s afterbirth.
Speaking makes for a scepter of a story:
say Mosul, and all stories are more self than referential.
The limits of a body as movement of movements,
a moving autopsy carrying laundry, pampered
of bookstores. Fold me, screen-gazers, and
spit me out running, book-pumping, an
exuberant failure, a moving image that
thinks: I can help or end you so much.
Rab’a, Protective Edge, Pulse: my I colonizes me.
I don’t want to see anti-hairdo in the mirror.
Survive: the people I disagree with who stretch me,
naming “backward” all whom he sees backwards;
and how many ways can she intersectionally graph
a drone? Is this the nasty woman I fall short of becoming,
family? Is he the pout into whose descend/t I fail to nest,
gripping book worms wringing beneath my sweaty brow?
When did a book of faces become my questions? (: a genealogy)
Read my anxieties: my ID’s out and my cunt’s bearded,
wide open. Are these the limits of the scepter as
co-author of its monsters? A mortar dress outgrown by a
heavier “soul” or something. A deferred pie-in-the-face,
a terrorist wish, on a playing-card face so unworthy of
the service-industry labor. So I leave my desk like dew
dissenting. Bed and iPhone applications too.
I forget my wallet to buy booze. I carry the
close reading of a closed book in my left lung.
I knock on a neighbor to (finally) visit and (finally)
watch one of the debates. I watch blue eyes with
my eternal failure to watch from beneath an Aleppo crack.
(as if that’s something). (it silently always is).
White suit, red tie, Colbert’s still funny, beef stew with
charred lemons, and champagne, all over Arab(ophile)
queers: a miracle so ridiculously mundane,
and for all the wrong reasons,
we laugh at how two liberations
never made it right. Go to sleep
with a silently shattering mirror
in the right lung for imagined
bodies that dare/don’t sleep to
bomb dubstep, don’t/dare sleep
on folded photograph. They didn’t
shake hands at the(ir) end.