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Reem Bassous
ENDLESS RED

April 5 - 24, 2019
Opening reception: Friday, April 5th at 8p.m.

Contraband

by Aiya Bettinger

I am birthed into a world of cinderblock
Cages, they are
Gridded, tiles on the floor under society’s 
Feet, they are
Trodden, branded blue with the banners of the benevolent
And they dance with the dust in
The wind.

Cloth-footed warriors, clad in plastic weapons of war
Salute us
“Marhaba”
They know no better.
Their mothers, skinless creatures of ruin,
Emerge, moribund,
Arms wide, they greet us in tongues
Foreign but familiar, forgotten, fading
Like the writing on the wall they plead with me,
Gentle cries of the un-gentrified that nobody else will hear,
Rendered deaf by torpedoes, explosions of white noise to block out the sobbing.

It is hot as sandpaper musings threaten to imbibe me
And they do,
Ramshackle breaths feed
Condemning stares
When heat turns to flame turns to ash
I am unprepared
Torpifying tortured lungs
Coughing black blood
Burning like flame- sharper,
They are needles, poking and prodding and praising “habibi”
They are claws.
I wander
Until suddenly pain has a name and it is “Go Home!”

Home. 

What is home?

I have no home
And so I make one in the tear gas,
In the blue bands of the benevolent,
Becoming a tin man,
Huddled in pockets of ocean,
Hollow,
Flashbacks of lightleaks onto frozen extremities
And orange graveyards.

Clutching the key of return close to my heart
I curse the friendly dark
For being silent.

Glossary: 

*Marhaba: Hello in Arabic
*Habibi: A term of endearment which means my sweetheart