4 poems by Maged Zaher – The Feminist Wire

4 poems by Maged Zaher

Making money takes time
So is making sentences
I pass by my thoughts of you
They are satisfying

Then eliminate the list of places to visit
Guided by their music
I swim in the slow water of the class structure
To untrue my senses
The princesses and princes and the angels
Are incomplete without us
I weep over each word I use
Praying for the God within you

This place is full of wisdom
Passers-by weep in order to cross the street
It is the price of the cleanliness of the heart
And the way you materialized
In our complex interactions…
A glimpse of hope
Can devour us
Be careful with the dead
Be careful with the living
Let us accept – though – the hard facts:
1- We possibly exist
2- There are doubts about meaning
3- Our drunk friends are mostly absent
4- We will count our phone calls to them
How did we scatter like that
Looking for a touch
With its accompanying text messages
We drowned
In the tears of the upper middle class
The tongue is symbolic
We insert it into our lovers
My elegy is incomplete


A small circular target:
The heart
I occupy the hunger
Of your stretch marks

The spheres and domes and your incomplete chest
My desire to unpack
We distribute images
Of the barbarians
And the lovers
Each behind a mask
Then I utter your description
To the mountains


Cairo is fraught with nostalgia and defeat.

Here I learned the bitter sweetness of departure, and here I first earned my complex dose of anti-depressants and here.

Nothing happens here but a vast hunger.

Next to you was my first realization of the Sufi’s untenable desire to getting lost in the beloved.

Here I learned the fracture of needing to be in two places at once.

Any movement brings loss.

Cairo – then – is a meditation on the passage of time and wariness of state power.

Its political daily is violence and disappearance.

Escaping Cairo while living in it is the profession of its inhabitants.

Including you.


magedMaged Zaher is the author of six books including a collaboration with Pam Brown, and a translation of contemporary Egyptian poetry. He is the recipient of the 2013 Genius Award in Literature from The Stranger. His new collection, “The Consequences of my Body” is forthcoming in 2016 from Nightboat. He lives in Seattle.

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