Issam Zineh

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there is a fine line                         between looking and not looking

the gaze in its violent                    shimmering—a knife in the grass—  

 

Jenny Molberg, from “Epistle from the Funambulist Hospital for Invisibility”

 

there is a fine line                            between looking and not looking

even finer still                                  the thing said and left unsaid

there’s an expression                      in Arabic that translates to either shoot him 

or break his brain                              the closest equivalent to a bull in a china shop

with room for interpretation         as there might be between, say, presence and embodiment

the original expression                   used to go god is in the details

avoidance can look                          something like intention from the outside

my therapist says                             liberation comes from writing down the details

in one context what                         is expected in another means a public death

how willing we must                       have been to take that chance

take for instance                              what will become of that bowl of fruit you leave out overnight  

take for instance                              what came before you that you forgot you inherited

take for instance                              what came of an imagined wolf whistle 

take for instance                              what became of that girl who lost a tooth in her dad’s knuckle

take for instance                              what might come from a mis-timed recollection

take for one final instance              what might come from a split second of noticing

the gaze in its violent                      shimmering—a knife in the grass— 

 

Issam Zineh is a Los Angeles-born, Palestinian-American poet and scientist. He is the author of the forthcoming chapbook The Moment of Greatest Alienation (Ethel Press, Spring 2021). His poems appear or are forthcoming in Clockhouse, Fjords Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist), Nimrod, Poet Lore, Psaltery & Lyre, The Seattle Review and elsewhere. He also reviews for The Poetry CaféFind him on twitter @izineh.

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