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When You Look

by Tufik Shayeb

you touch the screen

with a trembling hand,

secretly hoping you could

scratch away the words

like the black letters

of an old, grainy page

you try to carve it out—

a hunk of space and time

you can no longer sense

or even really know,

when each ugly vowel

announced itself into being

an animal's low bellow,

born in the wild brushes

and ignorant of the things

we hold most sacred

but all you get is ink

caught under your nails

it smears all over your shirt

it stains your new pants

so you run the washer

wanting to feel clean again,

but all you get is churning,

a cyclone in your head

you wait, you learn

to leave your body, float

on an awkward syntax

and a different point of view

you pull out each garment

disappointed in its fading

and completed by the loss,

you now know


Tufik Shayeb's poems have appeared in many publications, including West Trade Review, Potomac Review, Sheepshead Review, The Menteur, Lost Lake Folk Opera, Heyday Magazine, Muzzle Magazine, and others. To date, Shayeb has published three chapbooks and one full-length collection titled, I'll Love You to Smithereens. Currently, Shayeb resides in Phoenix, Arizona.

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