From Vol. 9: Two Poems by Glenn Shaheen



Fruit flies numerous and can I
bring myself to kill them to ruin
their structures of flight they
diminish our standard of living
they are minor irritants our
standard of living already low
from years of part time teaching
our teeth yellowing our clothes
becoming more out of style
poetry only works for the wealthy
or the white my friends assure
me that being Arab I should be
hired easily and still it’s been
years and nothing perhaps
it’s the Arabness that prevents it
one job presuming I’m in demand
because of my skin my name
so I’d have better offers than theirs
another questioning how many
young Arab writers there really
are for a person like myself to
draw to the program am I
doing this right revealing my
hurt in too unobscure a manner
I’d shed this skin like a cloak
from the costume department
if possible the classification
of all these numerous flies
inverted constellations on the
pale ceiling shoulda kept
my mouth shut shoulda become
a Sheehan after nine eleven
like my mother told me this
may not be clear to you so
many of my white friends trying
to find a clue in their genes
so they can finally ditch their
whiteness me I’d ditch my
Arabness but I’m a coward
with no dental and tired of
the pressure placed on me
by my beautiful white pals
not to mention the outside
threats but fear with any new
person new place yes I tell
the interview committee
I do understand what it’d be
like to live in the south as
a person of my background
a tremor in the surface skin
a pot that can’t quite boil
faces behind the barrier
of the parade joyous and
waiting for true redemption

White Genocide

Sure, I’m into it if you want,
I wouldn’t be here otherwise,
the broken nose that gives the
façade its character. What I
mean is we’re always dying,
each of us, our groups no
different. My mother was in
love and if you want to call
it genocide then that makes it
stronger, a wildfire that
consumes the western side
of a mountain. The northern
side. Look, nobody planted
those weeds. Maybe the grass
is the weed, it drinks so much
water. American whiteness,
like somebody spilled milk
in the trunk of an SUV. So
many unseen layers it seeps
into, the curdled smell never
going away. We’re expected
to prop up this fester, brittle
ceiling tiles that crumble like
anthills when too much pressure
is applied. We’re expected to
mourn for soldiers, those gullible
idiots. The desperate gnashing
of an animal in a trap, it’s for
its own good, it’s humane, its
death will be merciful. White
genocide so much tangier going
down. Boiling a lobster alive
can take three minutes to kill
the creature, and it is only
a myth that it cannot feel pain.
Give me seconds. My love,
my parents’ love, all those
other loves churning fear
amidst the viral culture. This
is the control. We wield the
broadsword like love’s fire.

Glenn Shaheen is the author of four books, most recently the flash fiction collection Carnivalia (Gold Wake Press 2018).


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