"Untitled" by Nour Annan
This letter is to ask if you
remember brown me,
fat-pudding from the Middle East
you couldn't swallow.
What did you feed the white kids
every day? It's been years,
are you dead yet? Were you ever alive?
I unstitched your name from my lips
but still that scar in my mouth
and your face,
the thread of your tartan,
red hair, beady green
of your eyes.
you drew the line at me,
lined up at the tuck shop
for fudge or snowballs?
The snacks my mother made
you snatched to give
to ruddy kids with earwax.
Eat less, you said, you said it
to my face before a bunch
of smug pink
"Orange Season" by Nour Annan
I used to travel light, carry-on luggage only, sometimes nothing more than a last-minute backpack. I loved exploring new cities in airports that all looked the same. I called myself a traveller (in a tone that rhymes with wanker).
Carelessly, I waltzed past the luggage carrousel.
Carelessly, past the people stuck waiting.
Carelessly lost, as in Instagram #lost.
It felt like the background music played just for me, back when I took a perverse delight in stretching out the edges of what I know, to see how many more certitudes I could fit in there. I would
"What speaks to us, seemingly, is always the big event, the untoward, the extraordinary: the front-page splash, the banner headlines. Railway trains only begin to exist when they are derailed, and the more passengers that are killed, the more trains exist," writes Georges Perec in his 1973 essay "Approaches to What?" "
"From the Photography Series: Transparent" by Jimmy Dabbagh
There is an aching for home.
But I do not call my mother, Mak, because no combination of utterances captures my longing. Instead, I send her wispy, truncated messages. I am overcome with rindu, as we say in Malaysia. Occasionally, I share photos of roses that I encounter on my walks around Oxford.
On our travels back home in Malaysia, Mak was quick to identify the location of nurseries that grow roses-we must stop by to purchase a new sapling for her rose garden, she would say. Often, I was tasked with
"Obsession" by Inas Fouad
"Nom de Dieu! Stop looking at other people and appreciate the small things in life, you don't know how lucky you are!" My Tante Geneviève, a wise Parisian beauty with fierce blue eyes and perfect makeup, would admonish me as only French women can, limning the boundary between good counsel and remonstrance. Her advice never quite sunk in. I grew up in New York City and attended Ivy League institutions. Everything was calibrated by how smart, rich, and good-looking one was. I constantly ruminated: Was my Fulbright more or less prestigious than so-and-so's Rhodes?
"Playful Vision" by Marianne Shaker
The ships are coming, as odors of garbage overflow the city.
The abat-jours of Beirut are more red than usual today. Before the ships, the flies have arrived and they have been eating us up for the past week. My husband wraps himself in his beige blanket, even as he sweats, giving in to the August heat. His scheme is grand: to trick all the flies away. I fear for his sanity.
I think of Perec's words about the beauty of the ordinary. With the hyper-inflation in Lebanon, and the continuous state of tension, my