You got a Rollie but whats that mean
Sold your soul for bling playin along in the Jewish mans scheme
Hope your content with these two bit dreams
Of riding with the top down like old men greet
That model lady to knock them off their feet
Wisely marrying into money to reap a life she seeks
Filled with expensive luxuries to define her self
But disguise a shallow soul aimed at Others wealth
Shoulda bad upbringing be the root of all evil
Or is life wild animals and we are farm people
Why lie and bluff perfection
Being wrong is right in my profession
Don’t look beyond yourself for reference
Be you is all I ask
Be you
Cause another’s person mind isn’t you
So ideally all your words would be untrue and that enough to drive the sanest far into the blue

- Gerald


8 year old Ibrahim from the airy villages of el-Mansoura
gagged when I asked him if his grade school love-interest
was the color of my Sahara skin,

“only fair-skin will do,
a pretty porcelain girl
who looks European”

“but Ibrahim,
you don’t look like that, sweetie
do you hate your own flesh?”

he gagged again,
“oh, but I do look like them!
see my straight hair?”

naira badawi

How could I possibly write about our love
without inhibition
if I have never actually loved you
without fear or guilt,
without holding back?
I wish I could be more honest
with my words,
more honest
with myself.

Why am I so afraid
of people who do not matter?

naira badawi

i want you
with a bowl of mac n’ cheese
by my bedside;
we’ll watch CNN at 3am
& wail about the state
of the world
you’ll talk about work
& i’ll write down
every single word
even your sighs

i want you
to see the horror that i am
& still manage
to call me “beautiful”
you suggest i skip the make-up
& i love you even more

i want you
in my dreams
& my reality
in my bed
& my thoughts
you see no evil
in anyone
& you only see beauty
in me

i want you
to know
that you have never hurt me
i want you
to know
that i
probably will

oppressed(?) hair

the moon was full of himself today: stingy with his allure
hemisphere transparent in the maghreb sky
a silken hijab scarcely encrusted with flickering stars
over a vista of calm greed–
they say that I must surely miss
the breeze on my faint scalp
or through my writhing curls of frizzy fibrous sexuality,
as if the currents have boycotted me
for my religious ideology,
but the soft ebb of a chiffon scarf
sweeping like a whisper on my copper cheeks
felt just as good
as the wind
through my covered hair

naira badawi

be good to her when the morning comes

You will be heard, mama
we lived our entire youth thinking you two
would never part despite the frowns in the morning
and the yells through the night,
we stuffed our ears with shaky fingers when
we heard you cry banging pots onto linoleum–
“it’s okay she’s strong they’ll be fine tomorrow this happens to every woman it’s really not that bad no don’t worry brother it’s just a tiny fight but cover your ears you don’t want to hear her like this cover your ears baby brother and be good to her
when the morning comes”

but the bags under your eyes were too heavy
wrinkling the skin below windows
far too soon, far too young for these greys, mama–
when I was young you told me not to hate all men
that this is “normal” “natural”
we are the ones who have to be strong,
but now your words have changed, mama
you do not defend them
because of one

work eat sleep,
nothing more he does
but say she whines
like a woman

naira badawi

my needs are few;

four walls and a ceiling,
to worship you in,
make my hair
your pillow,
hide you

oxygen and a fresh breeze,
to animate your sound chest,
breath life to your cheeks,
part your lips
for survival

the vision I was gifted,
to endlessly keep
you in my eyes,
lest you ever
require shelter

the Mediterranean Sea,
to compare you to
when your humility
is unrelenting

my needs are few,
but with you
my desires
are infinite.

that calm yet devastating longing
devoid of many words and
many explanations,
that longing with the single sigh
and the secretly clenched jaw,
where every little obstacle
makes you deeply tired,
that longing that stops the texts
from being sent or the calls
from being made in fear of
aggravation, in fear
of reminder, keep it
calm, keep it supressed
and endure until
the migraines come back

naira badawi

Sit with me in the squalor
of my city, lips against
backdrops of garbage tornadoes
by the Mahmoudeyya Creek,
heaps replacing waters
buildings once erect, fallen
into the thirsty ditch

Watch two men,
immovable for two hours,
no wives, no jobs, no passions
chairs nailed to rusting coffeeshops, 5 hours
Tea into the night,
not a word spoken, mourning
over unborn children, marriages, carreers
hashish by bicycle kids
learning from the unemployed Egyptian man

Hold me through the filth,
breathing up a grieving sky–
wifebeater men peek through green shutters
wink and stare
while their building falls

Recite me despite
the motorcycle kids
zooming loudly through
my grandmother’s dreams,
children cartwheeling over empty cigarette packs,
elegant battered men
feeding their horses with sincerity

there can be love here
if you look carefully,
if you focus on the night
and ignore the poverty.

naira badawi

Sleep now,
forget that your pockets
have been gutted-out,
white tongues dangling
below your belt, starved
longing to lick the faces
of dead presidents,
your eyes glued to the ceiling,
above your bed, please
don’t you worry about the rent.

Pay no heed to your poverty,
it is nothing but a shortage
of paper, my love.
I’ll compensate you;
pages watermarked
with my obsession,
poetic typography
onto every line;
it’s illegal tender, yes
but it’s worth more
than their money.

My pages will never enslave you
like their paper has.

I will love you regardless of
your credit number and if
you are too poor to afford
your own peace of mind,
I will clothe you with my stature,
feed you my devotion and
invite you to reside
in the shelter
of my chest.

‘Tis the season to be bewildered at shopping malls,
to line up for escalators leading to bras
that only fit one type of woman, to teal cocktail dresses
made by Mexicanos for 16 cents, sold to the
cherished consumer for the MSRP of $450,
to man-made meats slapped between seeded buns
made of plastic, kill the little boy slowly,
kill the little boy with your E. coli,
kill him and say it was his mother’s fault
for trusting you

but they do nothing but eat and covet,
eat and covet what’s behind carefully stylized windows,
electronic fruit providing a sense of self-worth,
a camera, calculator, a digital compass,
not a moral compass, just an aid to get to
the nearest mall since Toys R Us wrote you a raincheck
for the latest squaking Furby your son threatened
to kill the cat over if you, or Santa, didn’t buy

sip sip sip that extra gigantic 170 degree almond milk
peppermint mocha concoction with extra espresso,
three Stevias, NOT Sweet N’ Lows (do you want me to get
cancer at this age?!
) poured slowly (I don’t want any bubbles)
into a triple cup with a straw and a depressed smiley
scrawled next to a misspelled name. (oh, please?)
(hold on… I said no foam)

a bastardized caloric Orient was clamped betweeen
wooden sticks as the overcrowded food court
was maintained by demeaned single immigrant mothers
(here, take my leftover Manchu Wok, single mother,
I squirted some Kikkoman onto the table,
but it’s okay, it’s your job to clean it up anyway,
if it wasn’t for my slobbish nature,
you wouldn’t possibly have the means to feed
your kid

over-brewed dark roasts chugged out of Solos
by winking old men shuffling cards while
yoga-pant-wearing but not yoga-doing little girls
slide by with lavender Bubble Tease, smashing
into columns, squishing Blackberries that blind them

jingle jingle jingle, 25 cents away from selective Salvation,
only the white heterosexual Christians, but jingle jingle
either way, incessant jingles of questionable charity
dressed in plush red and white, jingle jingle, indeed

eyes tearing up from the heat emitted from zip-up hoodies,
get out, get out, don’t get trampled by all the holiday cheer,
get out through the revolving doors, run

meanwhile outside
five policemen apprehend one Native
hustling handmade mocassins in the snow
and a shih tzu struts along in the latest seasonal coat.

Thought I’d bring this back.

usually a brown man

usually a brown man wearing grey
or some other color that refuses to reflect the sun,
put them in white or let them work
before the heat makes their pores weep
before the dust makes their eyes dry,
but this brown man
ploughing the rocky semi-paved Arabian Desert,
looked at with contempt and alienation,
planting trees for us to breathe
thrown a riyal or two for being “obedient”,
this brown man does not matter:
exhaust him like a steel machine
and watch his flesh turn to smoke beneath the sun,
plough, plough, dump and pave
the Lexuses need to roll smoothly over his handiwork
but just wave him off if he tries to cross the street,
you matter more than him,

“what, you complain?
you are lucky, brown man
at least we gave you a home,
yes, you share it with 20 others,
but 4 walls are 4 blessings,
add to that a ceiling! WOW.
if you don’t like it, my friend
you can go back to Nepal”

why would the brown man in grey
even matter?
he wears a plastic helmet
and dusty boots,
they wear midnight abayas
and red heels,
it’s obvious who’s better.

naira badawi

Everything fell apart
the day we emigrated
from the stamen of yasmine
to the hollow West

baba, where will we be next?
baba, I am tired

you know, baba
others have been trying to raise me as well,
yes, since the day I was brought here,
you can see it in their signs
and sounds
and frowning gestures,
they want to raise me
the way they have planned,
the way they see fit–

so, be easy on sister,
have mercy on her neck and her hair,
her eyes that linger the same way yours do,
be easy on her,
she has not
wronged you

your expectations have wronged you,
your delusions have wronged you,
your pure intentions have wronged you,
you and mama,
you and mama
have wronged
yourselves for believing
the grand lie of immigration:

“they will just take the good,
and never be one of them,
only one of us”

I have seen the shift of seasons
in many a city,
none of which
I would call my land,
none of which
would call me a child
of her soil,
alienation became our home,
our only constant

us immigrant kids
will always be
too Eastern for the West,
and too Western for the East,
our identities will forever remain
in disarray.

It’s not our fault, baba.

Where that tiny stanza about immigrant kids originally came from. :)

To the anon suffering from androgenetic alopecia and no longer feels beautiful.

They weren’t fist-fulls at first,
they were little wisps camouflaged on parquet
or fragile bookmarks between pages,
they would fall slowly, alone
onto the surface of my tea, floating,
or they’d be left behind on the shoulder
of my love.

Now they fall to their demise
in hordes on my pillow,
in tangles clogging my father’s bathtub,
in sections between my hesitating fingers–

I cannot touch my scalp,
I am afraid of sudden itches,
I cannot let him twirl these strands
around his wrist, they are far far
too delicate.

And I am the most alienated from my reflection
when I can feel the nioxin cold on my scalp,
dripping down my neck,
once lively locks
thinly matted and plastered
onto my head,
maybe these strands will grow,
maybe the television

No, for the millionth time,
it is not cancer.
No, I have no choice but to wear
this wig.
No, it’s not something I inherited
from my aging father.

If my hair were fit for shampoo commercials,
Guess ads, or even Rolex billboards,
maybe you would accept me
as a desirable woman,
as a beautiful woman,
as a complete woman,
perhaps I would,
as well.

I need to believe
that my beauty is not
in my curls
or my lashes
or my arched eyebrows,
my beauty is much more
than just protein.

If you need anything, please message me. I know this could never do your suffering justice.

you bought me December

You bought me December in a bottle,
    I pressed it into the dips below my jaw
December comes everyday
when the fragrant air of my motions
    laced with the perfume of Winter
triggers red streetcars through slushed Toronto,
    Tower assaulting the Lakeshore we
forced ourselves upon despite the ice–
        we did not shiver
from the cold, December
shook our bones into pristine tremors
    in College Park the snow
and the bench melted below
our shaking, December
    comes everyday when I dab
the musk onto my wrists, you bought
    me August the next year
and I walked with the Summer in your absence,
I walked with Alexandria on my collarbones,
    with the cotton candy dewed onto lips,
sticky pink on yours and mine,
    backs against boulders protecting
my city from Mediterranean floods,
    clumsy elevators shutting in sacrilege
    embraces stolen behind uncle and mama,
    buy me Spring and Fall, too,
so I could walk with your memory
vivid and true,
        wherever I go.

naira badawi

I met Khalil Gibran
at the University’s library;
we chatted about fashion,
employment, gluttony
I told him out about you, habibi
then he brought up the topic of love

he suggested I follow you,
run after you, sleep
in every footprint you make
in the sand, embrace the toil,
the agony that comes with being
all yours

never forget
that I cherish your voice,
that every word spoken
is remembered, respected and
please, reappear in my dreams
shatter them if you wish
he said you’d do that,
I expect it, crucify me,
I accept it

I know
deep down in my soul,
that my roots are intertwined
with yours, you’ve gathered me,
tenderly with fingers soft and sweet
only to knead me in my nakedness
until my love has been exposed,
again and again

you peel away the shell
of my civilization
and display my weakness,
I sought to satiate the hunger
I watched in your honey eyes,
so I listened to Gibran
and sang to you every night

I told my paper
about how much I adore
every last detail
of your existence
and I’m telling you now,
I need you
more than all the paper
all the ink
and all the words
in the world