Words wa kaza 


Waking up from dreams after years of nostalgia. Forgetting. Fragments of memories of teta wrapping grape leaves. Home. 


Happy, smiling from ear to ear. Chin dimples. I take his tea cup to the kitchen. He’s in love. 


Like lemon trees. Burning lemon trees in the backyard. “Are those our children”, amti would ask. 

Like ants. The people. Carts of fresh strawberries. Are they really picked that big? One bite in, sweet. I’ll take a kilo. 


Are you still not married. Tell us whats wrong. I would have told you about this guy but he’s looking for someone younger. Aging now hurts. 


This sadness is unwarranted 

I no longer seek love in the hands of others 

This sadness confuses me

I no longer know when I am crying 

It seems like always 

I no longer understand what it wants 

But it’s taken so much 

I’m unable to form thoughts about it

It’s eating at my brain, reminding me that I don’t deserve good 

You’ll be alone it tells me 

But it won’t let me settle

Is this what the devil does God? 

If so, its winning 

Im not sure how to fight anymore 

Who lied and said self care 

Who lied and said radical quotes

Ignorance is really bliss

This sadness is unwarranted 

And it’s getting worse 

My day 

We take colored pencils

Color in between the lines

And outside too

Different shades of orange hitting

Books, line, squiggles, this is hard 



We color our worlds in the process

As if we were colorless

We listen 

To music and sing 

And hug and 

We don’t finish coloring, we 

Talk and 


Be petty 

We color and mix 

Cheese popcorn with smarties

Puff from electronic cigarettes

Apple flavor

We pick up blue colored pencils

Hit the books again 

Prank calls and missed men 

We change voices and continue to color

But wonder, 

“Why do people still answer an unknown call the second time?”

Stop holding on 

We cling on to words and feelings that once made us tingle inside, made us feel good inside 

We cling on to words that we know in one month time will feel like nothing anymore 

Yet we cling on to a mothers I love you, she hadn’t said it before hasn’t said it again

We cling onto fathers rummaging around stores looking for the Cheetos you love, he’s never done that before 

We cling onto smells, like when he hugged you for the first time 

We cling onto loved ones, knowing one day they’ll leave us, whether it’s through break ups or death 

Knowing clinging more means hurting more, yet we still hold on 

And here I am hurting again but I can’t let go 


We are so far 

So close


But in different states

I’m tired and you are too

We breathe in 


Say I love you’s in tongue

Through song lyrics

Neither says it back 

We create distance 

When we don’t have to 

Call the stars to connect us 

We run through fields 

To reach each other 

But map out mazes so we leave from different exits

We like pictures, comments 

Don’t talk for years 

We say hi passively in hallways 

How are you’s that don’t really warrant more than “I’m fine, you”

Books connect us 

Politics don’t 

Remember that conversation we had

I don’t either 

We lay down to cuddle 

Wake up with the other gone

Two plates for breakfast 

One untouched 

We create fantasies out of this thing called love

Wake up from nightmares 

Forget the look we most loved

Eyes are not alive anymore 

Years pass so fast 

So so fast 

We lose each other in dry conversations 

That go nowhere 

Leave memories on floors

Step on them like they don’t exist 


Is not a thing to hold

So how can we find it once again 

We lay down in different lives, goodnight

Don’t settle 

I’ll try I’ll try I’ll try 

I held hands to the sky 

Prayed for God to forgive me

Show me, open for me.


Even if they were hard to open

I’ll try.

Why do we still settle like our ancestors?

How come doors still close?

I’ll try 

To understand my worth 

I’ll try 

How come my feminism didn’t work?

I’ll try 

To empower myself 



Self care again and again 

I’ll try self care 

How come we still settle?

But are they not human too? 

But it’s intention darling.

Remember intention

I’ll try 

How come you don’t feel worthy? 

Of real love?

Deserving love? 

I tried 

And tried 

And tried

Why do we still settle?

Fighting thoughts, thoughts won

Unlearning, learning, reproducing

I wasn’t like this before 

I’ll try

To be the best of myself 

To hold myself accountable 

I’ll try 

My depression looks like 

Sadness lots of it 



The need to be around people all the time or not at all

Dreading the years to come 


Envy of others happiness

Feeling like what you want will never happen

Feeling like it’s all going to waste 

Feels like a sickness 

Counseling won’t help

Medication is stigmatizing 

No one seems to understand 

Crying in the bathroom

Lots of crying 

Everyone thinks you’re okay

You look good

doing good in school 


Doing a lot 

Wanting death 

But not suicidal 

Knowing it can only come from yourself

But not doing anything about it

Seeking relief from people


Still no relief 

Not paying attention in meetings 

Seeing no real consequences

It doesn’t even matter 

Pushing people away 

Keep pushing 

Wanting them to stay

But you won’t say it

Weirdly wanting what’s best for yourself

Not settling 


Sometimes not eating 

Feelings of throwing up 

Still not eating 

Questioning a lot 

What’s the point 

You can’t find happiness in marriage 

Or children

But it helps 

Mama said 

If only I was more religious 

Seeing no real consequences 

Not caring 

Is anyone of this real

Why does it hurt 

Eyes welling up with tears 

Crying where no one asks what’s wrong 

Tired of answering

Or responding 


Becoming a robot

Do your daily functions

It’s all going to waste anyway 

But don’t let them say you didn’t 

What is not having depression like

Is happiness even possible 

Nothing matters anymore 

It’s all pointless 

I hope death takes me soon

I’m so tired 

I guess 

I apologize for disappearing sometimes My last seen was 3 days ago

I guess

I don’t know why my aunt hasn’t called me

in 2 months, she told me she loves me

I’m sorry that

I added salt to the labne

it was what mama taught me 

I guess 

I don’t know why people ask me where I’m from 

When I’m back home

But I’m from here?

And when I asked him

why he ignored my messages when they weren’t flirty,

he said he’s not ready for a serious relationship 

I never learn

Mama said you never learn 

I guess 

I’m trying to make sense

I cry in prayer for worldly matters 

How come they asked me 

where I’m from 

I’m from here I say 

But where I’m really from?

My Arabic is not great

but I’m still from here 

I’m sorry 

I haven’t replied to your messages 

My feminism said 

I don’t need to 

Maybe my feminism is wrong

I guess

Things are not going 


Death sounds easy 


Why did they tell me it’s not 

Ma said he hits her 

4 years 3 children 

Strong passionate

How come 

The cars been parked for a while now

I’d rather walk

Weather so cold 

I can’t feel 

I’m sorry 

23 years of taking up space

I guess 

I don’t know myself 

I sometimes fall asleep 

While driving 

Deadlines are coming

Mama said I’ll age fast 

My skin is already sagging 

My eyes 

I worry for them 

My Islam is not that 

Don’t you see how free I am

The athan app is asking me if I prayed

I prayed after I sinned today

forgive me God 

I guess

I’ve lost it long ago 

I stopped baking cakes 

No pancakes on Saturday 

Overuse social media 

No I’m not that happy 


But back to the beginning 

I’m sorry I can’t message back

Little parts of me, they say 

I leave little parts of me in

everyone I meet

They say I remember you 

The political girl

Muslim girl

Looks like you’ve gotten more liberal girl?

I can see your hair 

Didn’t you once say that was 


Am I saying that right?

I leave parts of my life in everyone 

I’ve ever met 

Even bad parts

They say remember when you told 

Me that you were being 

Forced to get married 

Oh yeah your religion-

No, you said culture? Right? 
Sometimes I leave sour tastes in people’s mouth
They say remember when you called me out

I said Arabic instead of Islam

Scarf thing instead of hijab
I leave revolutions in people’s minds

They say remember that time you invited us to that protest?

Summer of 2014

Long 7 train walks time square 

You spoke of Gaza a lot 

How is Gaza doing btw?
Sometimes I leave good parts 

They say remember how you shared that chocolate 

Packets of Nescafé

Remember the tabla salad 

Oh right taboola? 
Sometimes people take the parts of me I gave them and throw them out 

Like my best friends of 2 years 

Like being blocked on snapchat

Like 2 years later sitting next to each other in class and not saying a word 

Like that 
And sometimes I take parts back and give new parts 

They say Zeina you’ve changed 

You’re so sassy now 

So confident 
And sometimes I give the same parts of me over and over 
They say 

Wow, you’re still the political girl

The Muslim girl

You haven’t changed 


Everyday I color my world 


Reds and greens and violets 

Purples too

Everyday I color my world happiness

Laughter and love 

And sassiness too 

And everyday I go to sleep and wake up


Only to pick up my brush 

And pick up my self worth too