WHO REAL؟

the return of poem to be read from right to left

"[for] when you are ready
to follow a tendency of anonymous feathers
—Zaina Alsous

say i ،well
particular in one no to
backed ive time first the isnt this
disaster a of out us

*scratch record*

here got we how wondering aint you nah

*frame freeze*

NDE an like feel doesnt it if and
right living aint probably you
that get dont you if and
you for aint poem this

*scene the to back pan now*
(out FBI NSA CIA the kicked we’ve that now)

12 on hand left
seat passenger the of top the gripping hand right
here out cantered i oh
back galloping im now

return i
،reader dear ،you and
return i ،saying my of tired are

belt his unbuckles man a
security entering before
aroused is someone and
state our is this

asks poem this of draft shorter a see to professor first the
device stylistic this sustain could i long how
think you do long how ،prof dunno i ،w counter i
™ pneumoic hegemonic demonic heteronormative khwhite the
؟itself sustain can
rage road and clown class the all and american im now
be never could i

device no is this ،besides

lolololol palindrome is lol
pandemic global whole a took it
yourselves institutionalize to you for
lol
bioterrorism took it
antiracism in training get to you for
lol
well are unwell the why is it
unwell are well the and
duress under

11:11 is it
many am i
air the in miles thousand

sound a without poem a make to trying

words english of number the counting of tired grew i wrote i
capture to takes it
another in one
writing of tired grown have i now but
limitations inherent your towards

compassion
yes
have i
it

up woke you
iraq in
you among dull the
metaphor a is that think still
storm / desert am i then hello ،well
up wake woke the watch and dawn at sill your on sit i
gender had sandman the thought you haha
eye your out sleep the wipe i

evr nevr was iraq :news breaking)
spreading creamcheese your on waiting
(democracy cube ice free BPA infused charcoal

species Invasive i
Ante i
body
language own your in you

how look
light we
n
language
we so
fly
toni like
who elmaz taught
me taught

so were you
w up caught
make(r) my
model and
missed you
glory the
flight this of
creature mythical i
future the in far so gone1 [already]
own my made i
country
two only w
citizenship
:questions

؟real who2
؟free who

reading hologram my this
you to
me showed book a writing coz
yourselves save to read cant yall
english you teach to arabic an write to had i guess

steph yo
pushin still im
brooklyn from ،yea
/n yall did
n nvaders
؟yet doors those open
i thought you know i)
humbled am i all be would
(review semiTYN that for grateful am i
iraq that is how and...
؟you for going revision

window the at still you or
؟pm 8 it was or 7 at clappin
applause yr needed ever one no
protection need we

:question another
it at are we while
؟bulletproof window the is

hate assassin i
nonviolent a this
up stick

slow bullets your
timelines future as fast mine
me end to tried still you where

infinity infinite i
can i only
me unend

:write you when read i what is this
bar bar bar
how at look
yourselves reveal you

me tell you before now
is anger my how
،well
justified well
you for translate me let
vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv=angry
smart v  v vv
fools suffer to afford longer no can=angry
you carry longer no can

you welcome i and
me join to

to moved supremacists white the all why that’s
themselves reproduce to racing carolina north

meanwhile
it has legend
born was i when
:mean name / myself named i
injustice to surrender to refuse who those
mmmmany many many many am i and

wind was i
me make to tried they and
language
/ translate to tried
me empire to
free this catch cant they

appearance third my is this but
me paid have they time first the and
it say so
:me with

loot the gimme
gimme
gimme
gimmee
me mind dont
mean i
me mine dont
donate humbly i
to back peanuts 50 these
elephants of academy the
royalties own my am i
tatted already book next my
body this on

morrie w tuesdays got they yea
charleen w thursdays got i
؟we is we how see you dont
together
history of lock the picking

come
something you show to want i

؟too poems makes kusama yayoi know you did
see to here are we what isnt that but
now painting is she there
dots just are those think might you
trauma every transforming is she but....

tacumeh friend my and me with walk a take let’s now
published get to how know to wants and grandma his about me telling is he
conversation the before
:turn a takes
convenient is it when black only are egyptians says he
anything say dont i and
ends black his where know i because
begins mine and
try would who seminar senior our in wife now his was it
...africa of part isnt egypt ،me tell to

see never you egypt of part the from im
me fool cant you
ourselves colonize we when hate i besides
+looted they while looking wasnt yall like
hand one with history country’s my whitewashed
other the with plantations the moved and
that love you why know dont you like
...much so cotton N-A-I-T-P-Y-G-E zero zero one

why wondering still im
uncomfortable so me makes it
truth the tell to
myself for up stand and
remember i then and
you of 99.9% because is it ،oh
gaslight to how me taught
self my

word strange a about ask to calls ounie sister my
book her of review recent a in used
nialism-de says she
DENIHILISM :hear i and
unsound sonically
correct etymologically but
attempt would that everything de-nihilate to seek i
me annihilate to
me of many the
finger a lift to have never we and
denihiliate to
lack and mediocrity own your
competence of
end your be will

ALIVE AM I 858 72020
listening and
last capitalism’s to
scream

say kawara on days many how and
AM I
LIVE A

recorded been has anger my
assurance quality your for
minor in
key major and

treasure hidden a was i
known be to wished i and

creation created i
known be could i so

in came i ،yea
high riding
horse trojan thoroughbred hotblooded a on
arab or black is it
whose on depending
on or in rollin we house

palestine in up wake will you soon

؟yet there we are
؟progress your at
us killin they how
؟here still p---t but
chief in predator

؟doubt the of benefit
haa
name another by hope that’s

narrative national the written finally i have
possible it makes that
؟me w reckon to you for

precog that this
speak postverbal
the get you did
؟yet EXTRATRANSMISSION3

good what’s knows poet the
living time hard a has but
it

؟cages in children the put they why know you
fly can we know they because
wings got passport every why reason same
long too for mine hold they when like dont i why that’s
envelope an just is body the and
stamps the forgetting about dream same the having keep i why be must

condescension your and condensation in grew i
cumulus i
you radius and circumference i

fractal i
dahlia i
dunyah i

abstract i
conceptual i

:story out coming my

:one no

:store supply art the in one no absolutely

؟with you help can I anything there is ،hi :employee store art

brushes these all up feeling am i way the question that expecting was i :me

...soon closing are we that just it’s no *expression shocked*:employee store art

am i
now learning
color about
blend to
of instead
mute

bristle every but brush your clean can you
pigment of memory the has

chosen and given: families two got
:you for translate also will i this / long very name last our
favored highly and blessed are who we
see to yet have you whom we
other each find who we
be me letting for you thank

you thank
you love i
now niece my call i
say
nok knock
bok bok
؟say cowcat the did what
mooo
yowww

ring ring
matrix the from calling
arabophone the up pick

up taking of me accused who everyone to sorry oops and
this before space queer
!delimited was it know didnt i
condition(s) the shame but poets the love we
kstksttsktsk
grace saving our
low go they when said
flow nile the way the that’s becoz high go we

say josé hear i now
one this for wild you

wild n wile i
poem this teach you when
state Avatar in it wrote i kids the tell

astral i
last i
me qualify can test DNA no
say to is which
me standardize modern evr never will you

ask i now

؟america in surveillve will who
؟america in surveillve will who
؟america in surveillve will who

            “ ”

                        “ ”

            “ ”

                        “ ”

            “ ”

                        “ ”
؟real who
؟free who
                        real who

؟free who

r           e           a           l           who

؟free who



*This poem is best viewed on desktop.


“Sun Ra’s consistent statement, musically and spoken, is that this is a primitive world. Its practices, beliefs, religions, are uneducated, unenlightened, savage, destructive, already in the past. . . .That’s why Sun Ra returned only to say he left. Into the Future. Into Space.” —Amiri Baraka

Instead of an Arabic footnote, here is a list of artists who inspire, and were with me in the making of this poem...and so much more (in some kind of order of appearance): Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Elmaz Abinader, Suheir Hammad, Toni Morrison, Tavonne S. Carson, Ava Duvernay, Solmaz Sharif, Monica Sok, Justin Phillip Reed, Xandria Phillips, Charleen McClure, Nabila Lovelace, Ashley M. Jones, Danez Smith, René Magritte, Jay Deshpande, José Olivarez, Jonah Mixon-Webster, The Desert Crew, Fred Moten, John Rufo, S*ean D. Henry-Smith, Andrea Abi-Karam, Belal Mobarak, Jess Rizkallah, Hayan Charara, Randa Jarrar, Zaina Alsous, Roberto Montes, James Baldwin, Mo Browne, Audre Lorde, Adrian Piper, Evie Shockley, Airea D. Matthews, Tyehimba Jess, Harryette Mullen, Safia Elhillo, Ricardo Maldonado, Mejdulene B. Shomali, Philip Metres, and Raymond Antrobus. Shokran.

“The word Black, has geographic power, pulls everybody in:” —Gwendolyn Brooks, Primer for Blacks

 

More by Marwa Helal

Bring Back Our Girls

1. 	It bejins in Berlin
	
	A Historical Case
	Study 
	In Disappearance + Cultural Theft:
	Exhibit YZ:

	Brinj back to me Nefertiti 
      Her 
	Bust

Take her
From behind 
	the vitrine 
	
	For I know where to find her missinj eye
	
	Then put a woman in charje of all antiquities. 
	She-law: just because somethinj is beautiful 
	doesnt mean it was meant to be consumed; just because there are
 	tourists doesnt make it an attraction. 

2. 	everywhere anytxme atm her
	vxolatxon: guaranteed.  sxlence bought             or your settlement
 	money back. objectxfactxon xn the mxrror xs closer than xt appears.
	please mxnd the wage gap. cautxon: not chxld resxstant to open hold 	
	down 	and turn away squee geez use daxly, mornxng, and nxght
 	supported by an aroma of certified organxc heavens:

	for every gxrl who grows 
	xnto a woman
	who knows
	the best threat’s: 
	one she never 
	has to make
	
	she sublxmates your sublxmxnal
	even your affectxon has been xnfected


3. this poem cant go on without hex i mean 
	hex 
	heeee x
	hex
hex and hex
		hex 		hej heq hez hex

she was stolen bought sold lost put undex buxied alive at bixth she was dxagged in blue bxa duxing a xevolution with vixginity tests she waits then she doesnt she sh sh sh shh she left you she the best thing that happened to you then she lilililililiiii she intifada she moves with two kinds of gxace she ups the ante aging by candid defiant elegance she foxgets but nevex foxgives 

She-language complex 
she complex she so complex she complex got complex complex

4. she spends her time anxious because she knows she is better than 
you rang to say she died from being tired of your everything she knows she is fiyne; gorgeous but she hates it when she infuriates and when she jigs and is kind she minds her own business except when she is new and nervous though she is origin previous and impervious she wont stay quiet she is razor sharp and super tired she undarks, vets, wanes, and xeroxes; yaks and zzzzs the day she dreams 

5. Me tooa B  Me toob Me tooc R  Me tood Me tooe I  Me toof N  Me toog G  

Me tooh                 them 

Me tooi B  Me tooj A  Me took C Me tool K  Mem too Men too Me tooo 

Meep 

too                 Meq too 

Mer too Me too Me too Meu too Mev too Mew too Mex too Mey too Mez too 

            Me     ((too)) Me                               ((((((((((((too))))))))))))

the days is numbered

startling semiannual saccharine sensitivity to sentencing in a season of severing and severances to so called civil servants of streachery and separation i sense a series of spectators or investigators wont save us like stolen generators nothing speculative about spectacles we beasts spit and sputter   spits and sputters splitting sutures of your occipital up your occidental skeptical of this spectacular softness of this plexus flex i choose the best for myself   swearing the swivel of the stank of spangled smear with speared wet spirit spent to coalesce in this nonsense that’s the thing about your language is i make it sound so good it doesnt have to make sense they is all what you is where you from  someone tell these oxymorons we is dual citizens former resident aliensss and we have only just begun counting down this society’s days with the efficiency of arabic numerals

Related Poems

I Am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra

'The devil must be forced to reveal any such physical evil
(potions, charms, fetishes, etc.) still outside the body
and these must be burned.' (Rituale Romanum, published
1947, endorsed by the coat-of-arms and introductory
letter from Francis cardinal Spellman)

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra,
sidewinders in the saloons of fools
bit my forehead like O
the untrustworthiness of Egyptologists
who do not know their trips. Who was that
dog-faced man? they asked, the day I rode
from town.

School marms with halitosis cannot see
the Nefertiti fake chipped on the run by slick
germans, the hawk behind Sonny Rollins' head or
the ritual beard of his axe; a longhorn winding
its bells thru the Field of Reeds.

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. I bedded
down with Isis, Lady of the Boogaloo, dove
deep down in her horny, stuck up her Wells-Far-ago
in daring midday getaway. 'Start grabbing the
blue,' I said from top of my double crown.

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Ezzard Charles
of the Chisholm Trail. Took up the bass but they
blew off my thumb. Alchemist in ringmanship but a
sucker for the right cross.

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Vamoosed from
the temple i bide my time. The price on the wanted
poster was a-going down, outlaw alias copped my stance
and moody greenhorns were making me dance;
while my mouth's
shooting iron got its chambers jammed.

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Boning-up in
the ol' West i bide my time. You should see
me pick off these tin cans whippersnappers. I
write the motown long plays for the comeback of
Osiris. Make them up when stars stare at sleeping
steer out here near the campfire. Women arrive
on the backs of goats and throw themselves on
my Bowie.

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Lord of the lash,
the Loup Garou Kid. Half breed son of Pisces and
Aquarius. I hold the souls of men in my pot. I do
the dirty boogie with scorpions. I make the bulls
keep still and was the first swinger to grape the taste.

I am a cowboy in his boat. Pope Joan of the
Ptah Ra. C/mere a minute willya doll?
Be a good girl and
bring me my Buffalo horn of black powder
bring me my headdress of black feathers
bring me my bones of Ju-Ju snake
go get my eyelids of red paint.
Hand me my shadow

I'm going into town after Set

I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra

look out Set        here i come Set
to get Set     to sunset Set
to unseat Set to  Set down Set

               usurper of the Royal couch
               imposter RAdio of Moses' bush
               party pooper O hater of dance
               vampire outlaw of the milky way

name/s

[arabic the in as left to right from read be To]

impossible are اسم/س
like bodies are so +
one having ugh what
supposed i am fuck the
day it with do to
wake i day after
try + it into up
way the all it fill to
know i like energy my up
many so for here i
wake i names but things
it into up
half on it put +
wanting lineage half / cocked
sharp—peak each—letterform the
expansive—wideness overall its fierce +
all-caps—go/od so looks it
it way the love i powerful fucking
name + bars search internet glitches
in glitches it f(x) like fields
obvious it’s + way race a
does hacking + stealth not—
no but way gender a in glitch
ledger the that tracks one
*generous of son connotes name my of part
god name        my of part casual the +
  drag perpetual in
unfortunate how          thinking without genders
are vowels where construct this
see people— soft so just
see to want they what
timbre—contact eye them give
soft two or one just even
casing back come they + vowels
you over all gender rigid
light blue awful in


                                       

ابيكرام*

The Bombing of Baghdad

1
began and did not terminate for 42 days
and 42 nights relentless minute after minute
more than 110,000 times
we bombed Iraq we bombed Baghdad
we bombed Basra/we bombed military
installations we bombed the National Museum
we bombed schools we bombed air raid
shelters we bombed water we bombed
electricity we bombed hospitals we
bombed streets we bombed highways
we bombed everything that moved/we
bombed everything that did not move we
bombed Baghdad
a city of 5.5 million human beings
we bombed radio towers we bombed
telephone poles we bombed mosques
we bombed runways we bombed tanks
we bombed trucks we bombed cars we bombed bridges
we bombed the darkness we bombed
the sunlight we bombed them and we
bombed them and we cluster bombed the citizens
of Iraq and we sulfur bombed the citizens of Iraq
and we napalm bombed the citizens of Iraq and we 
complemented these bombings/these “sorties” with
Tomahawk cruise missiles which we shot
repeatedly by the thousands upon thousands
into Iraq
(you understand an Iraqi Scud missile
is quote militarily insignificant unquote and we
do not mess around with insignificant)
so we used cruise missiles repeatedly 
we fired them into Iraq
And I am not pleased
I am not very pleased
None of this fits into my notion of “things going very well”

2
The bombing of Baghdad
did not obliterate the distance or the time
between my body and the breath
of my beloved

3
This was Custer’s Next-To-Last Stand
I hear Crazy Horse singing as he dies
I dedicate myself to learn that song
I hear that music in the moaning of the Arab world

4
Custer got accustomed to just doing his job
Pushing westward into glory
Making promises
Searching for the savages/their fragile
temporary settlements
for raising children/dancing down the rain/and praying
for the mercy of a herd of buffalo
Custer/he pursued these savages
He attacked at dawn 
He murdered the men/murdered the boys
He captured the women and converted
them (I’m sure)
to his religion
Oh, how gently did he bid his darling fiancée
farewell!
How sweet the gaze her eyes bestowed upon her warrior!
Loaded with guns and gunpowder he embraced
the guts and gore of manifest white destiny
He pushed westward
to annihilate the savages
(“Attack at dawn!”)
and seize their territories
      seize their women
      seize their natural wealth

5
And I am cheering for the arrows
and the braves

6
And all who believed some must die
they were already dead
And all who believe only they possess
human being and therefore human rights
they no longer stood among the possibly humane
And all who believed that retaliation/revenge/defense
derive from God-given prerogatives of white men
And all who believed that waging war is anything
        besides terrorist activity in the first
        place and in the last
And all who believed that F-15s/F-16s/ “Apache”
        helicopters/
B-52 bombers/smart bombs/dumb bombs/napalm/artillery/
battleships/nuclear warheads amount to anything other
than terrorist tools of a terrorist undertaking
And all who believed that holocaust means something
        that only happens to white people
And all who believed that Desert Storm
        signified anything besides the delivery of an American
        holocaust against the peoples of the Middle East
All who believed these things
they were already dead
They no longer stood among the possibly humane

And this is for Crazy Horse singing as he dies
because I live inside his grave
And this is for the victims of the bombing of Baghdad
because the enemy traveled from my house
       to blast your homeland
       into pieces of children
       and pieces of sand

And in the aftermath of carnage
perpetrated in my name
how should I dare to offer you my hand
how shall I negotiate the implications
       of my shame?

My heart cannot confront
this death without relief
My soul will not control
this leaking of my grief

And this is for Crazy Horse singing as he dies
And here is my song of the living
who must sing against the dying
sing to join the living
with the dead