by Jess Rizkallah
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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.