East meets west again

on june 12th at last call, there was a massacre.

do I know anyone in orlando?

as I read the headline selfish, human
The News compared shootings in the US
to hurricanes, tornadoes, recurrent events
natural disasters human premeditation

caught myself begging, hoping
for it to be another one of theirs
not someone they could pin on us
when you hold your breath

think white, male, christian
closeted homophobe

not brown, male, muslim
closeted terrorist cell

you worry about your humanity

about all the pretending we’d rather see
people live inside lies rather than love
listen, your spine is cracking too, crushing

me and you and my mother

said ahsan, when I told her
the kind of love that was lost
the life drawn from my face

my mother said I take it back I take it back                 

Take it back

breath can’t be breathed back
into bodies with sympathy
that only extends the dead
the silence of your friends
aches deeper than any wound
to paraphrase a murdered black man

people whose hearts have stopped, whose hearts are hurting oceans away, the ache resonates reaching
from here to there with words I don’t know I don’t know I don’t message a friend I love, I don’t say:
Listen          I love you        I don't know what to say any more          I knew you would be broken by this,
I am so sorry          this hit me so hard,                 I can still barely focus on anything without despairing.
and it hurts because you live there           It hurts because I live here           It hurts most because will we
never be              safe anywhere it is random and decimating        it is random and decimating and takes
one shape with you        takes another with me         we only despair           with each other              I want
to tell you everything will be alright          but I can’t             here or there or in this online space   we can
sometimes exist                  I love you           that's mostly what gets us through,           I think I want you
to know I love every facet of you           we are in danger for          being       who we are         but I        will
love you more strongly for it


Nour Kamel

Nour Kamel is perfectly lit and writes things in Cairo, Egypt. Kamel works as a writer and editor, studied at the University of East Anglia with a year abroad at the University of Mississippi, is a Winter Tangerine workshop alumnus, and was shortlisted for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize in 2018. Kamel writes about identity, language, sexuality, queerness, gender, oppression, femininity, trauma, family, lineage, globalization, loss, and food.

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