by Tracy Fuad

With lyrics from Säada Bonaire

A man hangs scarves and bags on hooks to make a winter garden —

Or I suppose, a market

Past the white gleam of the new pediatrics on Nostrand a man says baby can I —

In a state of irritation, in a nation of emergency —

None of this, the source, but everything I see I claim and it claims me —

And I can’t really think without etymology

The more I push the language through the automated translator, the more it strips away

You are free becomes excuse me, then forgive me

Two German women sing flat English over the saz that the DJ “discovered”

In a Communist-Kurdish Community Center

The lyrics bubble up above the melody: you have to face/the facts

Into Kurdish, back again, I am curious about myself becomes I’m proud

Subject becomes object, and object becomes everything —

I follow the thread to a state that is not


On the phone Carlos says Kurdistan is a blue ocean market

I say no, the sharks are feeding; the water is already red

And plus, I’m not interested in money

But he still tells me to snap up some property, in case it does become a country —

The face in the mirror/Talks to me

The mirror in the mirror/My speech


A girl says art is the last black market, that art is the quickest way to clean dirty money

What I know about value is that it rises over time

Like the sea

I propose to no one that even irritation could feel good to someone dead

But then: that’s not how the dead think

I’m born into the crush of the Uptown 4, held in place by the hot populace

We slide up Manhattan like public womb on a track

If prayer exists, I think, then this is it

In Union Square I shout JIN — JIYAN — AZADE into the bitter with the anarchists

A man asks who is Afrin?

And I recall that if you google Afrin, every image is of Afrin® Nasal Spray: No Drip or Severe

City, I say, and it’s burning

And on YouTube, it’s Newroz and a man is playing saz on a chair amid the rubble

Singing Afrin, malomin — Afrin, my home


Of course the saz was just a backdrop for the DJ to play against, to overdub

For the club to taste, a carpet from faraway on which to wipe one’s feet

A single note can start to overtake a song

Posing the question, how much can a single vessel hold?

The more I try to press my irritation into joy, the more the language dries and turns another

Still I navigate to KurdChat.com, a room with no one in it

It isn’t that I want to feel sublime at every moment

But I just don’t feel things anymore the way I used to

Tracy Fuad‘s debut collection of poetry, about:blank was selected by Claudia Rankine as the winner of the Donald Hall Prize, and is forthcoming from University of Pittsburgh Press. She earned her MFA in Poetry at Rutgers-Newark, and is a 2021-22 Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She currently lives in Berlin, and teaches poetry at the Berlin Writers’ Workshop.