At the intersection of reality and fantasy…

At the intersection of reality and fantasy
Stands a guard
Waving his hand frantically when fantasy flows too fluidly
Relaxing relatively when the vehicles of reality roam through
And on his absentminded days
Everything crashes into the other
And all of life finds itself in some chaotic mess
And everyone walks deliriously away from the scene of commotion
Hiding in one of the side streets until restored is the order
Only to find they are in the company of maniacs, lurking in corners
Waiting for a calm that will never come
Watching as traffic begins to ebb and flow through the crossed paths
As if nothing has ever happened here worth noting
As if nothing was ever hoped for, and nothing can ever be lost
So convinced all become that this is what is so
They turn toward the road
Confounded faces easing into their normal contours
And they mosey along —normally, as if they do not feel lost
Pretending to know exactly which foot to place in front of the other
And why should it not be so?
How many times has the world really stopped to notice,
The little things that happen in side streets,
And highways and main roads and dark corners?
Not even once

Save the Flowers

Where are you going?
I brought these flowers
For who?
To remember our friends
The road is closed
Its just a wreath to lay on the soil
What for?
This soil drank their blood
What will you say?
The same thing they said here
Only four years ago
That’s not allowed
But nothing has changed
The people need to know
No one is listening
You may be loud now
But we were louder then
When we weren’t so few
That’s in the past now
But..just let me walk these small steps in peace
Move along
No, this is all we have now, let me go
There’s nothing left of your friends here
No, I see them there
They’re waving in that square
You imagine things
It was in our imagination before, too
And we brought it to life
It’s closed
You can’t close a whole city
It’s empty now
You can’t erase history
Look, we have orders
But where is your humanity?
We have guns, too
We have a generation to raise
We won’t hesitate to shoot
You’ll kill the flowers
Take them and go
No, I will bring this city to life
It’s the least I can do
My friends are still calling
No, wait! Save the flowers
Well, they died here too.

*By Amira Salah-Ahmed

(Written January 25, 2015, in memory of Shimaa Elsabbagh, shot dead by security forces while marching to Tahrir to lay a wreath of flowers for the revolution martyrs)

Life of a memory

If all else fails and inevitably fades
Can you be happy with just the memory?
If it promises to linger
Take on a life of its own
And continue down a path non-existent
Towards an unreachable destination
To bring thoughts to life and stir emotions
As if it was really happening, now
As if it really happened, then
Would you confuse it for reality?
Just sometimes, when there’s nothing else
And no one else
In a space where you can let it be what you wanted it to be
Would you let it dance along the edge of sanity?
Freely, without real consequence
Running and jumping and falling hard and flying high
Singing loudly, for anyone who would listen
Would you let anyone listen?
Let them in on the secret life
Into the doors of your wishful memories
Where reality and whimsy mix effortlessly and twirl around each other
Like two lovers lost in carnal knowledge
Tangled in wistful vulnerability
Like you were once
When it was happening
When it happened
And when it settled into that wrinkle of time in your mind
A rusted wreckage
When it cozied up to the corners of your beating organs and latched on to the walls of your arteries
And with each thump it bumps into reality to remind you…
And it lurks
Close enough for you to crawl to when needed
To grasp at when convenient
When no one is looking
Like your favorite tragic novel —
You know the story in full
But you read it again
A guilty pleasure
Every time delving into the same beginning
Frantically turning the pages
Hoping for a gentler ending


You are the constant everything
Everyone else is a passing shadow
People flow through me, lacking substance, light as air
Unimpressed, I search for a heavier sense
Something to anchor without weighing me down
But nothing is as complicated
And I’ve gotten used to complicated
I do it well now
Dreading the mundaneness of else

Eager for an exhaustion that comes with confounding complexity
Nothing else makes sense
When did I willingly escape sanity?

With you transfixed in my constant background
Everything else is a reflection, a bounce-off, a juxtaposition
A stark uncomfortable contrast
I compare, constantly, water to vinegar and the sky to the sea
Looking for citrus but its too high up, and I climb but still, I can never reach
So I take the fallen apples for a temporary satiation that clumsily fades

In this midst I’ve constantly changed
For you, from you
Why are you still here?

Through this I’ve grown into my now
Where would I be otherwise? I wonder
Unevolved? Maybe unbroken
An untried wholeness without consequence then, maybe
But fragile

Here, though, my bones have toughened against your touch
I run faster, after chasing you for so long
More agile, after bending to your slightest whim
Graceful still, for having to acrobat through your jungle of absurdities

I breathe better too, because once I thought I lost my wind for good
But then I found it waiting just around the corner
And now I know I always will
If I just keep moving

My constant, you are still
But since in your complexity I’ve settled for so long
It has become that dreaded mundane
And now, here I am — again

(Written February 2013)

Curfew Musings

There’s a beautiful half moon in the sky tonight with a hazy yellow glow but I wont take a picture of it because you can see it too, if only you’d look up before it fades into a captivating hushed pink sunrise that will quickly turn into the unforgiving source of scorching midday heat you despise, until it begins to set serenely into the purplish-blue horizon that you will fail to notice as you’re stuck in relentless traffic on Cairo’s cruel roads which you only appreciate when they’ve gone quiet once the curfew you hate sets in or in those brief lulled hours during the Ramadan you constantly curse lethargically, or under the late night sky with the stars you can’t see and the moon you’ll ignore–again.

Tear Gas Nation

A complexly layered, psychoanalytical , personal and deeply poetic reflection on Egypt. Must read (takes a few times to get the full meaning).

Sibilant Egypt

There is a certainty about blood, a visceral definition of the shapes of things; that distills the essence of a situation to its purest form. Stark contrast of black and grey – for there isn’t such a thing as unsullied white – press against the inside of your eyes pushing outwards. It is an experience usually only available to you right there and then in the midst of rabid violence, rarely is it gleaned from afar.

It is in that moment when you see the measure of things, against other things, small and large and petty and trivial, lives and loves and time, always time. Running out of it, chasing it, hoping to prolong it, more properly utilize it.

What price is blood? When was it that blood, and death, no longer sufficed as payment in kind? I can’t bring to mind the moment it transmuted to a mere stepping-stone…

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At the edge of this cliff
Looking down into the spiraling pit
I’m to fall freely
Without strings
Without clinging to your jagged edges for safety
Fully knowing that nothing and no one will be there
To catch me
Enjoying this fatality, all the while
Never wincing
Never expecting

This City

This city’s beautiful
Decrepit — nascent
Hazily bright

This city’s angry
Resistant — resilient

This city’s mad
Possessive — detached
In your mind,
Dreamily light
On your shoulders,
Sitting heavy

This city is heavy
Victorious — defeated
Bustlingly unproductive
Provocative — demure

This city’s a ghost rebirthing
The lively dead
Hopeful — depressed
Boiling over the edge

This city pushes away
Tugs back the heart
Tearing us
Crashing us together
Come closer

This city’s calling

Walking wounded

We don’t scare easy
We scar deeply
Walking wounded
But strident
Headfirst against your wind,
Haven’t run out of steam
Just bidding for the cause
Watering the grassroots 
That you left to die, 
We paint fallen faces on flags
Raise them high
They fly free
Hover above your conscience,
We walk their path
Remember their end
So you can never forget 
We’re watching,
Run us over with false patriotism
We’ll drown you in a sea of chants
There’s more of us than there is of you,
Kill at will
Dormant cells dreaming
Roused desperate, determined
Ready to pounce,
Carrying sadness in our hearts
Bullets on our sleeves
Whispers of our ghosts haunt you
Our heroes 
Born shackled, killed free,
I hope you find it hard to breathe
We celebrate their eternity
To die for an immortal right
While you will only live to flee

A moment

In moments of delirium, we find ourselves
Stunned, immersed in emotion
What comes next?
What just passed?
A moment frozen in internal solitude
On the outside, broken composure
Cracking at the seams
Try to breathe
Frayed and rapid
Exhales recoil from uncertainty
Still, it takes its hold
You’re too easy to grasp
And you try to breathe,
Chasing oxygen
Familiar memories
The dejavuness of it
But then it was easy
Certain, content
Your face, a touch
Hands laced
Spiraling unraveled
Where are you going?
When you land
Tell me where the bottom is
And if there’s air