Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Tuesday poem #393 : Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch : The Good Arabs


hassan hasn’t talked
to me
or anybody

since the day of green seas

and we reduce it to absence

but they said
it’s a changing in the weather

that signals for more to come
and we’re trying to understand

but this isn’t a jump off the cliff

it’s not a change
built over time

a channel flipped every time
I hear a transphobic joke

every time I can tell this isn’t going
anywhere I want it

we trade in seas for lakes and summon the ancestors
whose names we don’t always know
cause family histories aren’t always recorded
maybe I need to jot down a list of names

of everyone who’s ever walked me home
called when I was alone
ever told me I’m acting like my shit don’t stink

because love is more than sweetness
when u grow up in an Arab family

when u grow up any kind
of working class

and any good Arab knows they need to strive
for the top
for the change

in cars every two years
for the kinds of capitalisms

we never critique
because the generation before ours

consumed the shame
of colonialism, tried to beg for mercy

and only got a lesson in apathy
you get a car you get a car you get a car

but what about a lesson

in our own histories,
our own urgencies

our own violences
any good arab knows not to get too dark

because who knows what
will happen when

you get further away
from whiteness
and the view from the top of Mount Lebanon

any step up is a step down
for other ppl and yet

I’m saying we can’t do the job right
the statue of Harissa

looking down
with tears in her eyes a miracle

but you’re mistaken my friend, habibi
she isn’t happy

she isn’t well
ya Rab

I’m not religious
but I see our reflections

in her tears
and we’re starting to look

a little devilish



Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch is a queer Arab poet living in Tio’tia:ke, unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory (Montreal). Their work has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry 2018 anthology, GUTS, the Shade Journal, Arc Poetry Magazine, Room Magazine, and elsewhere. They were longlisted for the CBC poetry prize in 2019. knot  body, a collection of creative non-fiction and poetry will be published Fall 2020 by Metatron Press, and The Good Arabs, a poetry collection, will be published in Fall 2021 with Metonymy Press. You can find them on Instagram @theonlyelitareq. 

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan


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