2015-2016 FINALIST

Civilization 5

Hazem Fahmy

 

I civilized a bare patch on my computer screen
and called it a day.

Looked up Frank Ocean lyrics more than Qur’an verses.
Versatility is how I manipulate my iTunes and anxiety.

I store honesty between the gaps of my teeth
and ask my mother to wait outside the dentist’s office,

so his smile doesn’t give my mistakes away.
I mean I hugged her today

and laughed off the intimacy as a temporary side effect of shame.
Like how nationality is a symptom of nowhere-else-to-go syndrome.

Since I broke bread with you,
I’ve been looking for mint floss for the headaches.

Have you heard the rhetoric on the news lately?
We all thought we saw a martyr on fire.

Civilization 5

Hazem Fahmy

 

I civilized a bare patch on my computer screen
and called it a day.

Looked up Frank Ocean lyrics more than Qur’an verses.
Versatility is how I manipulate my iTunes and anxiety.

I store honesty between the gaps of my teeth
and ask my mother to wait outside the dentist’s office,

so his smile doesn’t give my mistakes away.
I mean I hugged her today

and laughed off the intimacy as a temporary side effect of shame.
Like how nationality is a symptom of nowhere-else-to-go syndrome.

Since I broke bread with you,
I’ve been looking for mint floss for the headaches.

Have you heard the rhetoric on the news lately?
We all thought we saw a martyr on fire.

Rahil

Hazem Fahmy

 

We had sex in a dream,

or maybe a bathtub.

 

I stroked the curves of your leather

skirt and held your waist like the rails

of a shaking bridge.

 

The clear water looked animated.

I saw it through the cracks.

Flamethrower

Hazem Fahmy

 

i wanted to be boy
muscle-clad with polished smile
shining sharper than knives
or an eighteenth birthday switchblade

...


i wanted to be child
son of history and Nile
bathing daily beneath the pouring rain of revolution
...


i wanted blood to slither through the streets
so that every pedestrian would have to tread lightly
loathing the very ground beneath their feet
...


i wanted to be leather boot
stomping on the battlefield
an instrument in marching orchestra
...

i wanted to sing
reverberate the roars in my bones
toss them out to the world and see if they attract anything
...

i wanted everything
to roll over onto its back so I can see the scars
trace their movement across the coarse skin
and make an alphabet out of the markings
...

the movement of drunken bodies is enough now
they orbit the night around me
and their breath burns in my nostrils

Evening Star

Hazem Fahmy

 

Downtown Cairo is said to be the hipster capital of the country.

Somewhere between the proud statue of Talaat Harb basha and Tahrir Square
lie hanging lights
attempting to dangle Ramadan
to a culture choking from the traffic smog
of motorized hoards escaping from and into themselves.

In the miniscule distance,
hallow loafers walk under the intoxication of tucked away rooftop bars.

A darker truth is brought to the surface of the Nile;
illuminated by vintage lamp posts and 1920s French poetry.

This country isn’t what it used to be.

The man in the tweed coat whispers.
His head is light from the missing weight of his grandfather’s tarboosh.
His heart aches from the stench of Cleopatra cigarettes.

Then again,

maybe he’s just had one, two, many Stellas.

 
 
 

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