Published: Wed Jun 8 2022
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

like dime store gold, I pile on a couch for

the holiday & shine like rust. I am six,

the television is blaring. her hair a

beehive, crosses piled on her neck. she

scats her indigo stomach, Marlboros,

staccato body, battered jeans.

algorythm: Amy makes a pattern with her

throat. the screen stutters. music is a

technology: I serenade the headline from

my marrow. her voice iridescent / my

Arabic like me bent & arching / us on the

kitchen floor, reciting my stomach.


Amy opens her mouth with a country in

it, croons my ribs open. fhemt? my dress

blossoms loudly & it is Boston. bint her

testament, my tattered breasts. fhemt?

words are a business. we bleed glottal for

the audience. we confess elegant,

without confessing.

there is the photo of her in an insincere

smile. dad liked to say we were

descended from royalty. he was lying but

I walked like I believed him. the screen

cracks. we pour in jasmine rain oranges.

we peer back. I have a brittle conviction I

will make a beautiful woman.

Maya Salameh’s debut poetry collection, HOW TO MAKE AN ALGORITHM IN THE MICROWAVE, won the 2022 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Arkansas University Press this October. She is also the author of the chapbook rooh (Paper Nautilus Press, 2020). Her poems have been published in Poetry, The Rumpus, ANMLY, Asian American Writer’s Workshop, The Brooklyn Review, and elsewhere. She is a poet fellow of the William Male Foundation and was a 2016 National Student Poet, America’s highest honor for youth poets. (updated 6/2022)

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