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Rusty metal tubing sprouts up, out of the rubble, above the waste haphazardly pushed into piles along the sidewalk, and into a radial array of welded steel members. Where roots should dig into soil, metal frames are anchored into asphalt. Branches of synthetic, evergreen fibers twist their way up towards tree toppers - stars, a pair of doves, a fallen firefighter's helmet. Bells and baubles still decorate the trees this Christmas, but so too are the names and notes nestled gently into the ribbon and tinsel. Furiously lettered scraps of paper are pushed into the branches in apology - victims not

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قبوٌ في رأسياجلس أنا في رأسي، الظلمة حالكة. وحدي. لا أحد سواي. يتكشّفُ قبوٌ مظلم أم أفتحه أنا. لا أدري. يخرج الكثير من الذبابُ اللزجُ من داخلي، مني، أنا الكلب الميت. تلتصق بوجهي الذبابات فأهشُّها. أهشُّ الواحدة تلو الأخرى. أقول للذباب: اليوم لن تلتهميني. اليوم لن تلتهميني. يزعجني ملمس الذباب الزلق على وجهي. ويزعجني أنني لا استطيع أن أرى الذباب جيداً في الظلمة. تلتصق إحداها بوجهي دون أن أشعر… تغمرني الريبة، دون أن أعرف السبب. وبعد ساعات، بلا قصد، أحرّك عضلة ما بوجهي، فتطير الذبابة. أصيح بها: أما آن لك أن تختاري جيفة بدلاً مني؟     الأنبوبة والغرقأراهُ كلّ يوم من نافذتي.

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The Birth of Paper: An interactive online theater experience between Beirut and PittsburghLast showing is tonight, June 29 at 1 p.m. Pittsburgh / 8 p.m. Beirut "And here we are, together. In a space that's imaginary and real at the same time. How is that possible? Who knows. Science. Magic. Both." This is how "Molly," played by Milia Ayache, welcomes a Zoom room full of strangers, some of whom might also be friends or family. Or frenemies. Or even "stramily" or "striends." Connections are found as the audience is asked to ponder what kind of weather might move us from one category into the

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"Fishermen at the Corniche" by Vahan Luder Artinian Bombay Sapphire and scotch-tape.If you were a comic, you mightdo a bit about how one's to drownthe pain, the other's to keep its damnmouth straight. Faltering laments from a mosque, and in my mind,the dizzying acceptance that allour breaths were created equal-stifled, alive. Hind's telling meabout her grandfather, then her father. About dissent, then around4 or so, bequest. We're wasted ondry gin and the confluence of ourethnic poetries. She's telling mehow, if you're Palestinian, you get used to the idea of hyphenation.Her tears glisten like minefieldsof yesterday, and between

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"Tabriz Cemetery" by Sajed Haqshenas Last night I heard an owlIn the closed port of a night,my skin crawling andon fire,was its sorrowful songa few lilting stanzas and it was gone.And is it a bad omen,you think?And what of my enjoying it?And you,What's good?   Aws el Iskandarani of LA once old meour own legend of La Llorona,who roams the earth:a shapeshifter motherwho casts away the crown of motherhooda murderessand that in Egypt, the land before time,motherhood murderess wasan owl and awarningto never leave your clothes to dryin the eyes of the nightfor she'd shoot

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"Being, Oman 2015" by Ranya Hajjar knotthere is a place     in the outskirts of the neighborhoodan indian tailor    next to the fawwal-a black cat planted at his door     one abu khalidavoids walking by     reciting quranin fear of possessing him.     keep the money buriedin your palm so he doesn't     raise the priceask him about the jalabiya     & india     & home stitchhe says home     smells like the fawwallike the bread     & the orange peelstucked in the corners of the concrete

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"Liminal Access II" by Farah Azrak Almond blossoms reaching in the night asrudder to your boat filled with ghazals. Beyondthis damask fog of winter, patterned withtenderness on both sides, there are archersaiming for the refrain in your heart. Youcarry in your pocket a citadelof verses, arsenal of tulips, youcarry a candle that will not last thehour but melt into a pool that will stayhot for a century, clotted in desire. 

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"No Turning Back" by Maya Alameddine The trunk of Mama's car is dark, darker than everything, like the only blind spot under the sun. Around it is noise. A school bus clogging the capillary of streets starts a honk hysteria. Three quick whips on a donkey's back and a crazed clop-clop. Angry men come out of cars to start a word war. A boy in a tuk tuk tsk-tsks then snakes through. A siren rattles the jam on the three-lane ahead. The trunk though, the trunk is dead-quiet. I imagine if I come closer, it would suck me

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Photograph by Lujain Jo The sun in Abu Dhabi returns to her pink bed behind the sea;in the background, a song plays: "Gypsy, I'll always be."Above me, the night crops the sky as I stroll the city's Cornicheand recall Oslo's blue sunset, rising behind its wooden pier.How in Vienna the sun retreats behind the Danube;while in London it floats like a ship sailing against the Thames.I remember Sevilla and its orange sunset, the "Great River" in the middle,dividing two cities; one for sunrise and one for sunset.And how many cities does a sunset divide like a river

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"Woods" by Yusra Scott By Haifa Abu Al-Nadi, translated from the Arabic by Madeline Edwards. Umm Muhammad's black abaya speaks of night. Her glittering cigarette lighters kindle the threads embroidered across her plump breasts. Full of breath, her fat chest contains all the noise and memories of old sensuous nights. Her strangled, numbered breaths rattle out, lingering only briefly before translating themselves into three stubborn coughs which pepper the lighters and cigarette cartons displayed in front of her with a mist from her curled lips. Her wheezing falls silent when she sees me passing by, so I wave to

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