Maged Zaher

my software mission

1 —

a message from your dept. store manager:

“imagine staying as one person after all this fiction”

cultural diversity a standard ritual

clap twice then take off your clothes

the media already created a gap

to enable you to meet your abstract other

devouring a cab seat in the suburbs

where we have it all: the theory, its

supporting documents, and a gentle freak show

bringing democracy to them

one dead arab at a time

why should i give up my benign neurosis?

you stick to the legal definition of innocence

& leave me the task of creating memories

internet volleyball a quick cause

if you believe in pacifism

the next show involves silence

and self stripping utterance

but all they had is one air-hockey table

which turned our lives into a background

for the traffic conditions

the suede jacket will eventually play an important role

as we’re suddenly asleep on the dance floor

meanwhile the immense dream of lust that surrounded us had no power

this is not the same as being free

from theory’s nagging despair

we owe our hunger to the map’s persistence

(which didn’t prevent us from participating

in new terminologies)



this was where rigor met cuteness

& told bedtime stories all morning

basically, we were overwhelmed with symbols

so we escaped from the city’s downtown

where i bought my first dictionary

& looked up half the words in fear

of never knowing the other half

the neon of the same city carried me —

like a lame prophet — to its outstanding coffee shops

yes, mine is a standard story of time spent the

worst way, although theory books

gave me a reason to be happy

later i grew a beard & wept for

all the surplus value generated over history

how old was this sadness i rescued

& held onto despite my formal hallucinations

the poet’s business is to be surrounded by death

instead of local politicians

new year’s resolutions: to have a coherent story

and spend time with gym rats

who posses the gentleness of statisticians

then reevaluate this excellent status quo

with well-rested imagination: expect the report

on recycled paper: form was our obvious truth

as we navigated the tight schedule

to learn about sinbad’s obsessive journey

in order to get back the severed head of the prophet

we didn’t leave the town before mastering its rhythm

yesterday the wall buried us swimming

between two violent streams of jelly beans

i was hoping to see you tonight

in one of these marginalized coffee shops

but the ocean wave took the night shift

& participated in the music sales

trains of hands and shoulders

the body easily dismantled

so there was little we can do about our desires

we were influenced by a collage

of weeping space travelers

take your skull out of the equation

as you’re growing your nails

to defend the campus’ policemen



2 —



the phonemes we used to leave voice

messages showed up first in childhood

before we burned our limited body language

in a copy of the apocalypse

(the pure version that follows each death)

all the symptoms of mysticism

were lost under the city’s delightful rain

& in the terrific tragedy of realizing (or not)

that the love that looms like l=o=v=e

looms only in my software mission

and the cute emergencies

of a stranger extrapolating

his jealousy of the natives

and prompting himself to save his secular freedom

with vodka martinis

tormented with his elaborate blog

the space creatures orbit

his busted metaphysical quest:

taking de Sade for a lunatic saint

& Zizek for an animation character

rationally placed in a Japanese movie.

in the right frame of mind

i would be falling on your little feet

but my worst fear is heaven:

its laminated layers

and the isolation of the dreams the lead to it

looking from these irregular windows lead to my voyeurism

yet, i saved the dress code for the future engineers

who paid for hope in cash (and sometimes in songs)

but would it help if they revoked your driving privilege?

it’s still a long shot to find love

while playing a secondary role in the script



3 —



roaming in a body bag of Cartesian illusions

what a strange choice of vacation spots

i rubbed the moon with my forehead

then threw charcoal at the town’s kids

i did it twice

this was at one end of the moment

in the squash court: Canadians and Pakistanis

transforming their lust for their loved ones

into backhand shots



thinking of an indie movie

with good wall carpets

i had carpal tunnel

to worry about

so, asked for a grand story,

i replied: “expat lyrics on foam”

i am the keeper of all good starts

& my neighbor’s colloquial diaspora

promoting his urban dream of missed prayers

Seattle fleece jacket bohemia town

i dream. my dream is full of khakis

& yes, i did it for love

i did it unexpectedly out of love



sending my letters using liquid stamps

the middleman is trapped

in his consistency of thought

the task was harder than sexier

so, i’m still operating in ideas

the space won’t swallow

the concrete pages of the neighborhood

they blew the opposition leader in the morning

meanwhile the vendors tracked the honest conspiracy



(a sudden poem for Henry Michaux)

given the same gestures we arrived at different conclusions you kissed my girl twice you bastard

but even when you frighten me

we still break bread in the European Union’s halls

& ask poets to love unconditionally

& use words as sex toys, so the pressure

of bodies on other bodies seems appropriate

but Henry, fuck it man, all the barbarians

are on coffee breaks

meanwhile, the wave is holding its trendy shirt

and the unbuttoned button of the ant farm future

the sea re-structured its public image

and left me with an orange to peel

a desperate bottom line of reason

exercising my semantic rights, i know

something will eventually never happen



yet be careful buddy, we stayed in the thick traffic

waiting for a new future with its in-depth manual

on the merits of describing sanity

without the silliness of memories creeping up

i can prove that there is a correlation between

the shape of winter and our massive hopelessness

so i keep playing it safe & disregard the traffic

in order to keep the pictures of my loved ones near

in my backup plan the body disintegrates



the great memo maker notebook:

— minimize contact with your environment

— pick an alliance with the night; the morning is safe by definition

— prepare for the urban scene: a body is a pre-condition for lust

the robots mark the street as if we aren’t going anywhere and all the kissing business is not just a façade

our designated driver took notes while alive

but the narrator is the one who was given immunity for keeping a precise offset from reality

while building a prayer from to-do lists

now that we satisfied the god of statistics

we promise we will protect your privacy, yet give you back your exact change

Maged Zaher

Maged Zaher

Maged Zaher was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt and came to the U.S. to pursue a graduate degree in Engineering. His English poems have appeared in magazines such as Columbia Poetry Review, Exquisite Corpse, Tinfish, and others. He has two chapbooks, ‘speculations on a second weather’, and ‘the wholesale approach’, and has taught poetry workshops in the Seattle area. Some of his translations of contemporary Egyptian poetry are forthcoming in Talisman and Banipal.


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