All My Life’s Been a Costume Party

The night was like a planet turning on its axis—

tides shifting in some seamless, unnoticeable way.

So long as I have to go on with this   existing

I might as well be irresistible, so 

buzzing, I took him

like a small cactus fruit into my mouth.

I can be this whole tequila bar

or that blonde over there 

in a cropped t-shirt shooting stardust through the gap

in her teeth. There she is kissing her lady’s midnight

hair. And there in the crowd, a man is leaning in


and saying something no one will remember.


Somewhere in the mob


I can hear my will to live

saying very carefully: really, you had a great time


but this party's almost over.

An earlier version of this poem appeared in Muzzle, 2018.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Arab Girl

1.

She doesn't read 

The Atlantic

nor does she orgasm.

2.

Dancing, sucking her belly toward her spine.

Black vines

sway to the mumble of a lute, 

descend the trellis of her, 

sweep bare feet.

3.

Princess Jasmine

  Gigi Hadid 

Shakira

Sabah

4.

Have you seen the brown-necked raven

who builds a home inside a bomb shelter?

The laughing dove who nests in olive trees?

5. 

I am given the name of an American cheerleader; I am 

fearfully made.




6.

almond eyes & thighs

& rug-burned knees




7. 

I don't know which I prefer:

to be a child in my father's house

a servant in my husband's

or liberated by a

fashion

    magazine?





8.

Salma Hayek

George Clooneyswifey

Fairouz

A Pole-Dancing Muslim Miss USA





9. 

Carrying a basket into a field

disappearing parcel by parcel.


She mourns groves of desire.





10. 

She dies

 

like an American   in the street or some Mesopotamian desert 

at midnight in the afternoon.    




11.

The bulbul also sings.





12.

Someday my name will sound like Olds,

will sound like Plath.

Someday, in my father's Spanish inflection,

will sound like Abughattàs.

13.created by God  

to fuck,

to serve

coffee and tea.

An earlier version of this poem appeared in Thrush Journal, 2017.

Little Dume

I'm ten fingers deep 

in this ashtray of an existence, 

while he's driving off to Little Dume 

to swim in the ocean by himself. 

It infuriates me that he’s good 

at living. I want to learn

from a man like that—to drown

the phantom selves 

looming like sea foam—

to thrust spectacularly 

into the singular

body   so that the ocean fears me. 


An earlier version of this poem appeared in Waxwing, 2019.

Another Dinner Party

With a head full of smoke, nothing fills me up.

Pears, persimmons, ice, crossing my legs

on the kitchen counter. Maybe I need 

a woman, a motherless dandelion

to rub emptiness with me. 

In the perpetual dinner party of my brain

the guests are tired. They want to go home. 

I’m hooking them at the door with my remembers,

flirting with the hostages

at my all-hours discothèque:

One kneeling before a toilet 

in a bathroom full of SSRIs. 

One kissing her dying father

and one ignoring his call. 

One spread out and reading Nietzsche 

amid Styrofoam takeout containers. 

One licking a mushroom 

with Dan or Ben or Tom. 

One arching on the Persian carpet.

One tattooing a kite to her ribs. 

One sliding a fishnetted knee between another's 

stockinged legs. Girls, sad and high,

we never know who is big or bad or wolf 

until he’s loved or left or made a meal of us.

Tired of being devoured,

I make a model of my sorrow, and kiss it. 

I’ve been waiting on my misery like a man who won’t come.

I used to live on crumbs 

wanting to be touched

in the house where no one keeps me. 


An earlier version of this poem appeared in Waxwing, 2019.