S E I F E L D E I N E | Monsoon 2014
Nobody Wants to Listen to the President
Inside the cafe, Akhmed smokes al-Hamra
under a sign that says "No smoking."
E'ad blows the dice before he rolls them.
Basheer stands over him and moves
the checkers. (The President is on T.V.)
Rasheed clicks his teeth as he sucks the dense
grains from a cup of coffee,
teeth, brown and cracked,
whistle between their cavities.
Mariam, the only girl, wears ruby red
lipstick and skips table
to table to watch the backgammon.
She wants to learn the Turkish names
for the rolls. Hajji, just returned from Mecca,
is abstaining from caffeine and nicotine.
He drinks mango and searches the paper
for soccer scores. Nabil pours cream into his coffee,
the liquid rising above the brim,
leaking onto the table. A soldier takes his cloth
and dusts the desert off his cartridge.
(The President denounces the terrorists.)
He looks up at Mariam, imagines
that when she takes off her hijab
her hair runs down to the small of her back.
The Children of Arwad
The children have never read the words
"Dulce et decorum est" or seen the dove
or swam so far out that the jellyfish
could sting them. They have enough energy
to chase the pigeons, but not enough bread
to feed them. They'd rather use their spray paint
on the stony walls of Arwad's narrow corridors
than to earn some small penance
painting the sides of tankers.
A jump rope, a soccer ball, two empty nut cans,
the Mediterranean, clothes dripping with sea.
They know how to move their feet,
they know how to dive, they know how to rinse
their hands of paint, and they know, if the water
gets too deep, to let air into lungs, to float.
Seif Eldeine is an Arab-American poet living outside Worcester, Massachusetts, with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Tufts University. He is currently working on a chapbook on the Syrian Revolution. He has work upcoming in the Fall Issue of 82starreview. Currently, he works as a TMS Technician in treating clinically depressed patients.