two poems

by Samia Saliba

cowboy country

after Suheir Hammad

what if we went wild
under somebody else’s
moonlight. running
hand-me-down car engines
till they bust.       what then,
when we are splayed out &
freezing under no clouds?
you still love me?      under
all my poorly hidden sadness?
yes        body loves the water
and the pink of this place
loves you. the shining &
spinning parts.          yes,
that’s a firework, maybe.
this place is teeming with
open       air.      space to
shoot. space to kill. space
to cry, cry. into deep valleys.
hey cowboy!! nothing’s
louder than me now.

zuihitsu for the friends who write me into their oceans

with lyrics from young the giant

who congratulates the ocean for cradling
 us? my love is wider and further and heartier
than any of the stems of a delta. goodness
 is only a part of the equation. i dreamt
i bought a mandolin just to play your favorite song.
 the tongue is a number. we used to linger
our thumbs over the groaning piano keys
 i was six or eight, doing interpretive dance
on the sidewalk next to the buskers, my friends,
 for you, i give up my water
and watch you sink in, the rippling wood
 of a heavy table, the cat rattling the closet door
at midnight, all this a music. are you listening?
 god knows i’m listening to you. i’m reading
your tinyletters, your lips as they shake
 some harmony into my thoughts. the windows
sweating over our finger paintings. we drew
 each other when we could no longer touch;
the soft graphite texture of water dragging
 hand to face. you carved a boat
to sail my shadow, its soft-edged shape
 like the calendar photo for june, the blue
mountains layering over the fog. that photo
 hung for months in my apartment, the one
where every upstairs toilet flush flooded
 my ears like a drowning, tunneling, twice a night;
i still collect paper strips & fabric scraps for us
 to collage over our bodies. i’m too full of hollowing
synthetic ocean sounds, the kind that drop you
 into sleep and hold you there. i’m too full to sleep
to practice arguing in the shower. i’d rather imagine
 we’re swimming, holding hands on the current
we float
 on the infinite blue

* give up my water / and watch you sink in – typhoon, young the giant
** you carve a boat to sail my shadow – apartment, young the giant
*** float on the infinite blue – titus was born, young the giant

Samia Saliba (she/her) is an Arab-American writer and historian. She edited The Rachel Corrie Foundation’s Shuruq 4.5 Writing Showcase for writers of Arab heritage (2020) and was a RAWI Wet Hot Arab-American Summer fellow (2019). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Sycamore Review, Vagabond City Lit, Kissing Dynamite, Mizna, and elsewhere. Find her on twitter @sa_miathrmoplis or in real life petting a cat.