‘​Unaddressed Love Poem: When Asked About My Hometown This Poem Washes Me Down its Throat Cuts the Last Line Open and the Words Sandcastle Themselves into Your Face’ by Khalid Abu Dawas​

— Nix Thérèse

Don’t you love a good love poem, unafraid to bare teeth? Imagine your possible lover beginning with, [i’ll] warn them / that You make fires into newborn nations / and out of me. It’s one of the smoothest shifts I’ve ever seen. The pairing of “fires” and “newborn” are deserved when we consider that new nations often usurp power from already standing structures, instead of manifesting cleanly. Unlike children well-nurtured by their mothers, mouths like the United States and Israel never seem to know fullness, always concerned with swimming to the stomach’s bottom only to point that there’s not enough left from their foraging. Much of this landscape feels underfed, but by different forces: the You won’t let their country’s unmet hungers go unnoticed, yet their seemingly unintended bitemarks on the speaker are almost palpable.

The You looms over everything, their presence almost omnipresent in the capitalization, which in turn magnifies their eye. A sidelong glance is enough to make men burn, and the speaker’s response feels all the more gutting: there are days / where i tempt my mouth / to say your name // to see / if i would / survive. Oof. Isn’t that sometimes the deal? We know our desire is folly, but that awareness still can’t drown out the spark that strays through us. But it’s the bottom refrain that takes me out completely: Will You hold me if i am still alive / will You bury me if i am not. They ask for acknowledgement, You recognizing the impact of their gaze, over being truly sated. Even part of the title, the words sandcastle themselves into your face, implies that they want the You to regard how long these feelings have stacked. Even as onlooker, it’s hard to outright refuse.