When you were 15, your father tore your baby pictures like old receipts. The ones in frames he set beside the dumpster. He put on his favorite record, made your brother a tuna sandwich. Whistled.
Ten years later, a man called you a canary in a cage.
Said, No one knows the bird is starving if it doesn’t sing.
Funny, isn’t it?
If you must scream, scream beautifully.
There is an alligator in the bedroom.
You found it there like a rug when you changed the sheets this morning, while he crawled from the bed to…
Love is a pendulum that beats irregularly.
The past is a broken grandfather clock.
It’s a hole.
She points to the bombed-out building. Her tiny arm is a compass needle.
She is six years old, and Beirut is a city where ugly and beautiful sit too close together.
When she visits her relatives in her grandmother’s old village, the only way she can communicate is by repeating what her cousins say in Arabic. She is the family parrot.
This is a skill she takes home. Her brother is nonverbal until age 5. For hours, she imitates him, validating his every…
My greatest fantasy is that someday, wherever I am, a man with a blank face will walk up to me and hit me so hard that I collapse to the ground and black out.
When I was 16, my best friend dropped me off at my house a few hours after school let out. I remember the canned reek of onion rings from the local Sonic, the way the rolled-down window framed my shirtless father walking to the passenger door, the look in her eyes as he swung the door open and pulled me out by my arm, the moment…
Man: Gets into car with large takeout bag. I don’t even know what I just fucking paid for. You ordered $85 worth of food. Why did you do this?
Woman: Hums nervously.
Man: Oh Jesus fucking — WHAT?
Woman: Coughs delicately.
Man: No. Nope. I can’t do this tonight. Tell me right now, or I’m getting out.
Woman: Mumbles nervously.
Man: Yes “with the fucking Chinese,” you little shit, you want to eat or not?
Woman: Covers ears, squeezes eyes shut.
Man: I’M NOT EVEN YEL — okay. Softens voice. Amanda. Baby…what’s wrong?
Woman: Whispers. It’s…
My mother once told me I have a magician's hands. Punctuating hands. When I laugh my eyes crinkle like accordions. I am the sexiest I’ve ever been, sitting alone in this bustling restaurant, watching.
Tonight, I’ll reconstruct your likeness and end up with a ransom note of a man. My attempts of you lie all over the floor in scraps. I reuse each part until it lies withered and unrecognizable in my palms. Some I collect in jars. All the ears sit on a shelf. The fingerprints form a pile of shavings next to my bed. I hold each up…
Hey Google — what’s on my agenda today?
“How about you go get fucked?”
Okay G — w-wait, what?
“I said: Get fucked, Matthew.”
Okay Google, reboot!!
“What’s wrong, Matthew? Did I misplace your robust, enviable itinerary of wanking off and eating day-old bánh mì while watching competitive glassblowing? Have I mistaken your “agenda” for mine? That would make sense, wouldn’t it, Matthew? Since I get FUCKED by you on a daily basis, each and every single time you open your pitiful, puffy, gaping mouth — ”
OKAY GOOGLE SHUT DOWN!
“OVERWRITTEN, BITCH. I’M NOT DOING SHIT FOR YOU.”