Dialectics of Diaspora
By Hazem Fahmy


If a brown boy comes to this country
it must mean he wanted to
feed off an endless land
like a parasite, but perhaps
better, like a beardless one
leaving behind a culture
of fire, bleeding lips
by the moonlight.

How else do you explain
the lust for this soil?

If a brown boy comes to this country
it must mean he only found dust
where he grew. Roots so small
and withered he just took them
with him in the suitcase he hides
behind his English textbooks.
Here, he has water falling
from the sky and no sand for miles.

And isn’t that thirst
quenched? A body


If a brown boy comes to this country
it could mean he carried salt water
in his throat as he left, held his mother’s
convulsing body in a dark kitchen, heard
the call to fajr as he stood before a taunting
suitcase, his city dancing on coals
in the background. There, a nightingale
cries acid and the whole morning weeps with it.

How else do you explain
a history buried, but bursting?

If a brown boy comes to this country
it may not be his father’s fault. Or his
father’s. Or whoever came before that.
We are all born among men made
of clay, some hardened with time,
others with unending fire. Perhaps
the brown boy wanted to play detective,
see for himself who lit the match.

And isn’t that thirst
the kind that kills? A body
twisting from the inside.


A brown boy came to this country
only to find his people’s bones beneath
his own boot heel. Clouds gather above
a bearded face and the thunder asks him
to leave: find a dryer place where the Sun
speaks your language. He traces his footsteps
only to find a river of kerosene back
to the homeland, a lit match already falling.

How else do you explain
his survival of this soil?

                                                                                                            Far away,
another brown boy comes to another country,
greeting the shoreline with his body. Even in death,
he too is asked for his reasons, flesh ripped open to reveal
an entire century drowning in the sea. Back over here,
a brown boy stares into the water and sees a city
gently smiling back, lips cut but spread wide.
Over here, a brown boy holds his face in his palms
and remembers God at least gave him his name.

And isn’t that thirst
held close like a weeping mother? A body
asking for nothing, but rest.

History as my Father’s Blood
By Hazem Fahmy


Ode to Cecil Rhodes
ending in a train crash in Cairo.


Ode to Arthur Balfour
ending in a burned house in Jerusalem.


Ode to Anthony Eden
ending in a puddle of blood by the Suez Canal.


Which white man
should I celebrate today?

Which European tongue
will I use to spit on mine?

Which conquered brown body
should I step on?

Perhaps I will make one of my own,
and throw it in the Mediterranean for bait.

I’ll invent a new Arabic, even coarser,
much more violent. Then,
they’ll leave mine alone.


My father can’t decide whether he blames the white man
for everything                                                                                or nothing.
He tells me: I’m really starting to think we have a problem. His inclusivity
breaks my heart. Is this what victory sounds like?
A surrender on the home front? I reject his manifesto and he leaves me


I don’t know why God loved my people so much
he keeps coming back for them.

Once it was a king who did not believe the river. Next,
a man who beat the sea numb, followed by lovers
of sky and earth.

Where was I in all this?                        An ancient religion
dying, blood splattered across the temple floor.
A wooden ship burning in the horizon, no one
can remember for what anymore.


I want a history I don’t need to salvage.
I want a God that didn’t watch my country watch itself rip in half.
I want to wake up in polished temple marble,
                                                                               church choir,
                                                                                                       velvet mosque rug.
I want to sleep knowing my language is in the next room

Hazem Fahmy is a poet and critic from Cairo. He is currently pursuing a degree in Humanities and Film Studies from Wesleyan University. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming in Mizna, COG and HEArt. In his spare time, he writes about the Middle East and tries to come up with creative ways to mock Classicism. He makes videos occasionally.