Yasser Abdel Hafez: The Blind Squirrel

Translated by Khaled Rajeh

James Hennessey, Iowa, 1991. Source: artsy.net

Do any of you know that there is a missing flag on the IMU bridge? I am only a traveler here, but I think it’s only right that I point this out. After all, the presence of a flagpole suggests the non-existent flag was once intended to exist there. This will cause us all some puzzlement we can do without. Imagine the scenario: pedestrians cluster on the bridge, perplexed, unable to move toward their destination or retrace their steps, each of them doing what I’m doing, stopping to investigate the disappearance of the flag. Maybe they are lucky enough to see that the matter does not merit too much attention, being only a flag, no more than a symbol of the international diversity among students at the University of Iowa. But that is not enough for me. I have nothing to rush me to the other side of the bridge. My most valuable resource here is time and I delight in squandering it on things no one would pay any mind to. I am the only one, then, who will take on the case of this poor flag. But before I take any steps that might put me in an awkward situation, I imagine a conversation between myself and one of the administrators summoned upon my request.

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Matthew Jakubowski: I Noticed Last Year You Fell

Hyosung Pang, time travel, 2020. Source: artsy.net

Hi, may I please speak with <Mr./ Mrs.> <first name> <last name>? Hello, <Mr./Mrs.> <last name>. My name is <dialer first name>. I am a <job role> from <Reliance Total Care/Alliance Partners> and I’m calling with some helpful information about your <Series 1/Gold tier/Series 2/Silver tier> prescription drug coverage. How is your day going?

Before we continue our call, for security purposes, may I please have your date of birth? Thank you. Please note this conversation is being recorded so we can improve our quality and training. I want to begin by saying thank you for being a valued subscriber to our health insurance plan.

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Tariq al Haydar: The Cave

Abdullah Hamas, “Construction”, 1998. Source: f7hopesart.wordpress.com

Every year, on the 19th of Ramadan, Aisha would pack some clothes and food and head out to the mountains on the outskirts of the village of Dhuha. She would sit in one particular cave, think about her place in the universe, and attempt to purify her heart. Jealousy was never an emotion she struggled with. Even when Omar, whom she had hoped to marry, proposed to her neighbor, she felt no resentment. As painful as it was, she prayed for their happiness.

What attracted her to Omar was the kindness of his heart. Once, he noticed a bird near the trunk of a tree, and for some reason its mother would not come down from its perch. Maybe it had no way of helping its offspring. Perhaps it was afraid of people. In any case, Omar would come every day, feed it seeds, and help it drink from a saucer of water. He would cup the creature gently in his palms and extend it towards the mother bird, hoping it would fly. But it never did. When it died, he dug a small hole for it by the tree trunk and buried it. She spied him wiping his eyes, and prayed that he would father her children. When that hope evaporated, she accepted it and endured her disappointment.

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“A Naguib Mahfouz character arrives in Havana”: Maru Pabón Translates Rogelio Riverón for Valentine’s

Grey Dust Covers the Eyelids *

Nikos Economopoulos, Havana, 2017. Source: magnumphotos.com

A Naguib Mahfouz character arrives in Havana on a Turkish Airlines flight. He had escaped Cairo three months earlier and bounced around until he landed in Istanbul, where he was able to find work as a bellboy in The Seagull’s Nest hotel in the ancient part of the city. It was a three-story house with four rooms per floor. Lacking an elevator, the man – skinny, with a turbulent gaze matched by a discerning tongue – had to carry the luggage up a narrow and badly illuminated stairway, which multiplied the demands on his body. He felt safe at first, far away from where he had presumably committed the crime that had sent him into exile. He tolerated the excessive labor in silence, knowing that such was the lot of an undocumented immigrant.

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Angel Lust: Robin Moger Translates Yasser Abdel Latif for New Year’s Eve

Egypt’s iconic rapist face/look: actor Hamdi El Wazir in the film “Hilali’s Fist” (1991). Source: YouTube

In the presence of the rope, standing on the platform, and in reply to the traditional question, he told the executioners and men of law that his last request was to be washed, so as not to meet his Lord unclean. They’d dragged him from his cell to the place where he would die, and the shit had run out of him uncontrollably, like water. Piss flowing as though a tap had been spun open. By the time they reached the execution chamber his red trousers were soaked through and stained with diarrhoea. The stench filled the heavy air of the room.

The governor, the judge and the prison doctor met the request with silence. Taking him to bathe meant the time it would take to walk him to the prison bathhouse, then the time it would take to wash, and then there was the return journey, and all that, of course, would constitute a waste of time: of government time, and that of the senior officials who there to ensure that the judgement was properly executed.

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Nadine Yasser: Insomnia

Tereza Zelenkova, from ” Snake That Disappeared Through a Hole in the Wall”, 2018. Source: 1000wordsmag.com

The shadows in that room always looked a bit hysterical. It may have had something to do with how tall the walls were. It only had one tiny, too high to reach, which made it look like it was there just to freak you out. Perhaps my brother was right; he said it looked like a prison cell. He wanted me to move into the room with better lighting, but it had two big windows. Windows made me uncomfortable; I was barely okay with one. I could never shake off the feeling of being watched. It’s a bit of an egotistical belief, to think that someone or something would leave everything behind to watch your every move. But, egotistical or not, the feeling never left me.

I’ve been lying in bed for three days straight, only leaving my room when absolutely necessary. A crippling numbness took over my body from time to time, and this was one of those times. What followed this inexplicable numbness was always the same repetitive scenario. Having been in bed for a couple of days, I’d get up after midnight with an urge to escape. I’d feel myself being pushed out of my bed and out the door. Every time, my brother would be waiting for me next to the front door, holding it open, and closing it behind me. I’d start walking; everything would go blank from then on.

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Nadine Yasser: The Ballroom                                                                                       

Benjamin Shine, “Transcendence”, 2016. Source: boccaraart.com

I was wearing an orange dress, I had no clue why or how. I didn’t own a single item of clothing that was orange—nor did I ever plan to. I was in a ballroom. A stadium? No, a ballroom, a hotel ballroom. The same one I’d been to years ago when I had to go to some relative’s wedding. That was a strange day; I’d seen so many family members that I hadn’t seen in ages at that wedding. The music was so loud. I could feel judgmental eyes on me for staying at the table where the aunties sat instead of getting up and dancing with people my age. But the food was great that night, and it made up for the headache, the awkwardness, and the fact that I felt like a hostage to traditions the whole night. Meanwhile, this time there was no wedding. Instead, there were hundreds of people I knew and had met throughout my life. Most of the faces were blurry. I couldn’t tell if I was a blur to them too or not.

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Yumna Kassab: Taxi

Beirut taxi by The Monocle. Source: cdn.shopify.com

When my father was younger, he said he would learn English. It is the language of the world, it is the future here.

 He took us out of our school and enrolled us in another. Arabic, English, a little French, and this would let us be citizens of the world.

How was he to learn English as an adult man? There were no courses in the village, he could not read at a level to enter university. His one choice was to read over our shoulders and for us to teach him the words. He put a satellite dish on the roof and we only ever watched English shows night and day. He had the TV turned to children’s shows because they spoke slowly and he could understand.

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Karim Zidan: Gabriel

The angel Jibreel from “The Wonders of Creation and the Oddities of Existence”,
Egypt/Syria, c.1375-1425. Source: mimirstudios.tumblr.com

The angel came down to earth bearing a message of peace. He swept over the pyramids of Giza and landed in the heart of Cairo. People gathered around to witness the heavenly being, capturing the moment through the camera lenses on their phones. The world watched this miracle unfold — taking in the angel’s magnificent wings, which arched off his back in a graceful curve. His skin glistened in the sun like fine copper while his hair fell below his shoulders in flowing locks like unkempt wool. And when he spoke, the people listened, for his voice was like the song of a nightingale bearing the promise of a brighter future. The angel spoke of love and peace, of fear and hatred, of humanity and the eternal light. His words reached the ear of the president, who feared his own stardom would be diminished. He ordered his intelligence agencies to act, and so they did. The angel made the evening news — they called him a criminal, an anarchist, a troublemaker, an outcast. They said he fled from Heaven under a cloud of shame, with the goal of chaos and war. They censored his speeches and erased his online presence. And still the angel stood in the heart of Cairo and called for freedom while the people listened with open hearts. In his growing fear, the president deployed the army, which surrounded the angel and took aim at his chest. The angel smiled for he knew the battle had been won. He removed a single daffodil from his pocket and planted it in the cement beneath his feet. He then spread his resplendent wings and took off, ascending the heavens, his purpose achieved.

Christopher Clifton: Three Accounts

Prince Salim, the future Jahangir, 1600. Source: Wikipedia

Emily

A daughter and a father, known as Emily and Bruce, arrived to meet with an accountant to discuss their situation. Bruce had been the owner of a store for many years of its successful operation, but in recent times had struggled to keep up with the evolving ways of commerce, in a world he could no longer understand, and had in consequence accumulated debts with his suppliers that exceeded his potential to return on current income. Having guaranteed the voice of his sole daughter, he allowed her to explain this situation, and the motive she had found to bring him in there. “We have come to find a way in which to finance our concern, with views not only to dissolve our obligations, but to rapidly increase our operations. I have numerous ideas that I believe may be of use to your financial institution. But before I get to these I will elucidate our current situation”.⟶

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E.F. Fluff: Too Close to Zerozero

Rosa Menkman. Source: rosa-menkman.blogspot.com

Clubbed black nails clawed back a charred slab sinewed with the ratty remains of a plastic bag. What remained of the sunlight danced a shine off a small filthy brick that toppled into the vacant space. Quick. Snatch. Spit. Polish, second layer good. The few remaining hairs she had stood up.

A little melted around the edges, but still whole, the phone was long dead, yet its last conversation held eerily, burnt forever into the crystal.

She stared at it, then threw it over her shoulder as she beat a hurried retreat down the mound. Caught. In the crystal. Burnt. Flash. She’d wandered too close to the Zerozero and had to move.

Caroline Stockford Reads “The Plague in Bergamo”

Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior, Strandgade 30, 1906-8. Source: fr.phaidon.com


Old Bergamo lay on the summit of a low mountain, hedged in by walls and gates, and New Bergamo lay at the foot of the mountain, exposed to all winds.

One day the plague broke out in the new town and spread at a terrific speed; a multitude of people died and the others fled across the plains to all four corners of the world. And the citizens in Old Bergamo set fire to the deserted town in order to purify the air, but it did no good. People began dying up there too, at first one a day, then five, then ten, then twenty, and when the plague had reached its height, a great many more.

And they could not flee as those had done, who lived in the new town.

There were some, who tried it, but they led the life of a hunted animal, hid in ditches and sewers, under hedges, and in the green fields; for the peasants, into whose homes in many places the first fugitives had brought the plague, stoned every stranger they came across, drove him from their lands, or struck him down like a mad dog without mercy or pity, in justifiable self-defense, as they believed.

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E.F. Fluff: Josie’s Numbers

Spider and The Bottle, “Hera” from “Father and Six Daughters series”, 2015. Source: gnypgallery.com

30 Second Quickie!

Wet horny college girls waiting for your call now!

Garish, bawdy and downright pornographic ads screamed from the back pages of the magazine. Pausing occasionally to push a wet strand of hair out of her open mouth – fingers shaking slightly – she thumbed through the pages, taking care to choose the right number for tonight. Fingertips slid gently across the buttons, their tinny responding beeps echoing into her dry mouth.

The electronic rotate of the connection signal ran a shiver from the heat of her ear to her mouth.

Bzz,

bzzz,

*click*

“Hi! My name’s Tina! And I’m a slim luscious blonde with firm thirty six double D breasts and I’m a gym instructor. Ever since I was sixteen I…”

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Robert Neuwirth: Show v. Tell

Yüksel Arslan, Arture, 212, D Effects 56 (Islamic Arts). Source: sibelbugdayci.wordpress.com

capitalism is an extremely contagious virus

communicable by primitive accumulation.

Its chief symptom is the belief that every problem –

including infection with the virus itself – is

curable by the profit motive.

—The Book of Derivatives®

 

the future is

the exploitation of the

net present value

of the past

—The Book of Derivatives®

 

This legal notice filled the latest issue of The Loiterdale Loss-Leader, a free, limited-circulation South Florida newspaper, in its entirety:

Know ye all men by these presents, that the following brief has been filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida —

Reply brief

Motion to dismiss

Cross motion

Order to Show Cause

&

Request for summary judgment

plus

*Four (4) Special Notes of Historical Interest*

Guillermo Telles, aka Guillermo Tell, aka Bill Tell, aka Wild Billy Tell (hereinafter TELL), a naturalized citizen of the United States born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and currently living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, representing himself pro se, does aver and assert:

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E.F. Fluff: The Shop that Ran Away (A Fairytale)

Bivalia synthesizers by Swedish craftsman Love Hultén. Source: lovehulten.com

Contrary to popular belief no magical shops or mythical creatures will be appearing in this story.

She slept in a workshop under a giant unfinished surfboard her mother called “the tourist attraction”.

When she was born they named her Esther, but immediately gave out cards saying she was to be called Esty. The other name was for later life, for the times when a young woman had to sound extra officious to implement her will.

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Joanna Pickering: Paradox of Color 

Mark Rothko, No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red), 1951. Source: artscash.com/

It had been a bad morning from the onset. It started with a flood from the bathroom which cracked the lower wall and damaged her one and only painting of any expense. She didn’t have insurance. It was a real shame. 

The painting was The Paradox of Color. It was an original. It was the first original piece of art she’d bought. The gallery shipped it to her and it arrived with a crate of champagne. They knew they’d gone to town with the sale’s close. The adrenalin rush isn’t something she’d forget. 

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Robert Neuwirth: the death of the dove of peace

Yuksel Arslan, Arture 404, L’Homme, XLV, Mélancoliques et Maniaques, 1989. Source: artsy.net

Identification: 13 inches (33.02 cm) from top of head to bottom of tailfeathers. Can be distinguished from the Domestic Pigeon and the Rock Dove (Columba livia) by the white turtleneck tuft on the back of its neck. Plumage: off-white, opaline milky green or purple. Eyes low in head, level with beak. Flies higher than most other pigeons.

Song: can do the familiar coo-roo-coo of other doves, but, in certain urban zones, its call features exuberant, operatic glissandi and trills.

Habitat: urban and peri-urban areas; commonly roosts in cornices of industrial buildings and on masonry outcroppings on commercial structures.

 

Caesar called me to come over.

We sat on his roof in the late November sun. He tucked the bird inside his worn wool vest, donating it a bit of his own heat.

It was the last of its kind. Columba regio civitatis. The Zoning Pigeon.

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Rémy Ngamije: The Sage Of The Six Nigga Paths (or, The Life And Times Of the Five Os)

Chris Steele-Perkins, a black township near Windhoek, Namibia, 1984. Source: magnumphotos.com

Niggathrond And The Path Of Youth And Foolishness

When we were younger there was nothing else for niggas in this Wild Wild Worst town to do but fight. Me, Rinzlo, Cicero, Lindo, and Franco―the Five Os. We were from the same side of town:  torn Millé and Hi-Tech sneakers unworthy of hot-stepping in, out-of-fashion t-shirts from the Pep store with girl-pulling gravity set to zero, and not even a coin between us to spend at the video game arcade. We’d pool our poverty at the mall on weekends waiting for rich kids from Olympia and Ludwigsdorf to give us shifty looks so we could corner them in the parking lot and pound on them.

Anything could set us off.

Some Jordan-wearing dude looking at our cheap kicks funny? Fight.

Rinzlo’s younger brother getting bullied? Fight.

Some random-ass nigga coughing into the west wind while we were coming up from the east?

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Rémy Ngamije: Little Brother (or, Three In The Morning)

Patrick Zachmann, César and his brother, 1984. Source: magnumphotos.com

“Hallo?” I say, voice still sleep-drunk. I sit up in bed.

“It’s me.”

My brother.

I don’t know why he’s calling me from an unknown number. My anger rouses itself and beats me to the mouthpiece. “I know. It’s three in the morning. What the fuck, dude?”

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Madeline Beach Carey: Alternative Therapies

Ferdinando Scianna, Umbria, Melezzole, MESSEGUE’s Beauty farm. Source: magnumphotos.com

Olga was a screamer. It’s nothing you would have guessed about her, at least not at first. Or perhaps some would. Maybe almost anybody could have told me to watch out for a beauty school graduate with a military father. But I was shy, and clueless, and young, excited to be in a new place, excited to date a girl.

We met at the beauty parlor on Calle Numancia, near the main train station in Barcelona. It wasn’t just a beauty parlor, it was a huge complex, three floors, opened from ten am to midnight Monday through Saturday and until three pm on Sundays. You could get anything done there: nails, hair, waxing, electrolysis, Thai massage, California or Swedish massage, Botox injections, fish pedicures. Olga did waxing and I was both the massage guy and the handyman. I fixed broken lamps and collapsing massage tables, dealt with circuit breakers, repaired all sorts of broken nail-clipping tools. The owner, Adele, a French woman who weighed about 45 kilos, hired me the August I arrived from Buenos Aires. She liked that I had long hair, a thick black ponytail. You seem New Age, she said, and asked if I’d be interested in maybe teaching her tai chi.

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