salmaan the second son & his mama’s seventh seal by way of underwater & underemployment

by way of the coastal regions where boys become men become gone too soon

or never soon enough

his only son now has water on the brain

heard you didn’t have to pay so much for treatment here

a gamble that cost all the gold in his wife’s closet

on odd-numbered holy night

he prays for deliverance for damnation for the divine miracle of drosophila

for a better dunya  





ibraahim by way of fake papers by way of ain shams by way of two years

of exhaust fumes & switchblades

by way of engine oil thick as lust & thieves the street beggars having less but always enough

to know he is less

they need no documentation to be sure of this

no jawaaz no passport no waraaqo


the dark of his greasy calves is proof enough





uthman by way of motown mustache by way of mombasa crackle

the first to leave

now has a summer home & a second wife a few cousins in the camps but here

here he has a maid who cannot read the payslips she receives

here is not over there where the kids are hyphenated & disrespectful

& always breaking your heart

here is where he can hold his head up high & feel like a man

you must understand to feel like a man is something worth traveling for


is something worth drowning for






Photograph © Claire Meyer

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