two poems

by Jess Rizkallah

habbayt myself bessayf

so much depends upon a dollar store scrunchie
and a yellow sundress. w kaman every yellow emoji
you can find. 🍯 🐝 🌞 🌝 🌻 ⚡ 🌙 ⭐ 💥 ✨ 🍋 🎺 🪝 💡 🔑 ⚠ hit send
w/ a knotted cherry stem in yr mouth. yr crooked
tooth. the resilient crack in the jar of the door to the back room
of everything you say.                 they say it’s how yr light
gets in. yr song gilded as a new tooth, rouhi.
yre humble as a honey pot, hbb. yre high
on a dream it’s blue & in season, play it cool. arjouki.
but you always do. 3y🧿 uni. u ever feel
a tattoo in yr skin before you’ve even saved up the $$$ for it?
behind yr ear. under his thumb. it’s already yours.
the needles just a reminder. it’s like that with hands too. u ever
stick yr hand out the window while you drive?
yr rings plenty & glittering. yr palm a chalice
warm then cool then it stings. static. the cling.
(be less precious  no) l’hawa holding
someone’s place. yr memory
of his face. the wind holding yr space
somewhere else & that’s where yre headed
once you decide btwn the line or the lie
do not disturb or airplane nikes
or the combat boots

i am a master of fine arts here is an academic reading of frank o’hara

for grace after a party by frank o’hara is about getting ready for a date
w/someone but you’re thinking abt someone else. later in the night you
and that date run into their friends who work at some doomed start-up
in clinton hill. you space off while they all catch up. someone pulls out
a picture of their depressed poodle. you don’t care but yr makeup makes
it look like you do (you’re finally blushing the right parts of yr cheeks)
and then the band starts playing so everyone stops talking, like it’s too loud
to talk & you are relieved—that’s yr little secret. and so is that letter
you eventually start writing in your head. it’s addressed to the person
you’d rather have next to you, their hand sliding up your thigh under
the table instead. their mouth on yours later instead. you write & write + sigh
& drink + beam, scrolls unfurling for miles, fields of poppies opening
in your face. but you never send it b/c you never sit down to write it
b/c by the time you get home it’s been three bars later + a slice
of pizza for the road. your stop is under construction and the sky
is lighter so the letter has become birds & you cant write down whistles
that language doesn’t fit inside pens scientifically it’s impossible. you go
to bed and dream about water filling up all the subway stations but no one dies
because the trains have been steampunk whales this whole time so they’re still
gonna take us where we need to go. but you wake up before you get there
+your phone lights up & the person you actually love has texted you. something tender
but not enough to fold the map. instead of telling them everywhere
you went inside your head last night + how they were with you
the whole time, you send them a picture of yr eggs, just plain scrambled
and the warm weather is holding

Jess Rizkallah is a Lebanese-American writer and illustrator. Her book THE MAGIC MY BODY BECOMES was a finalist for The Believer Poetry Award and won the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize as awarded by the Radius of Arab-American Writers and University of Arkansas Press.