The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2019

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APR 2019 Issue
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They Don’t Want Us to Feel

The mind’s wet paint. Your ears tingle with knowing. Your scalp—it comes alive. The transfer is complete.

It is safe to be seen. I feel you. They don’t want us to feel. I feel seen.


Where you goin’ with all that [delete overused word]?

What have we made?

Who do you make with?

Why? Why do you make?

Have you made a country? Or its absence?

What has made you? Not who.

I once told a friend: Allow yourself to be homesick and to grieve for all your other selves. I keep trying to be artful about saying: TELL PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED NOT WANT TO HEAR

I am not yelling.

Draw something here:

Feel free.

A sensation. Another transfer is complete. You are degenerating.

The best criticism is a question.

It asks you to return to the universe of yourself.


Marwa Helal

Marwa Helal is a poet and journalist. Her work appears in Apogee, Hyperallergic, The Offing, Poets & Writers, Winter Tangerine, and elsewhere. She is the author of Invasive species (Nightboat Books, 2019) and winner of BOMB Magazine’s Biennial 2016 Poetry Contest. Helal has been awarded fellowships from Poets House, Brooklyn Poets, and Cave Canem. She has presented her work at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Brooklyn Museum.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2019

All Issues