Maged Zaher

Back to the not normal

This is a microcosm
Including an erratic urge to have nicotine in my blood
But death has already happened
And I am thankful
To the eternal damage in memory and lungs etc.
We covered the earth with clouds of words
We covered the earth with clouds of violence
I think of myself
Licking you
A poem
Is just a poem

The bourgeoisie is cute in a way that damages everything.

On the barricades

The concreteness of existence isn’t real
The sky is not enough
I want a dialog with the celestial enemies
Suddenly you think the earth is flat (it must be)—
Few believe you yet you are still alone (that was the point)
Bravery of the equals, come stand between the earth and itself
Authority is a blunder, how to make words out of illness
I am an émigré to the night
I wanted the money though
You will get it when dead tired
Naomi, what is the deal, you are scared for me
And it doesn’t make much sense, I am just another
Ah, add the bitterness of espresso
And I am back to the spot I used to escape depression
Depression not being a personal fracture
A systemic one: capitalism etc.
Vague memories—vague words

I wanted to be the philosopher of a barricade
Instead I am stuck like a rat in some divine experience about illness
But somehow I was given wings
With you, I am on some barricade, blocking both the police and the revolutionaries, and only letting
The lovers pass or even spend the night
Ah, they needed an engineer who believes in the dialectic
They took me anyway
We piled cars up all night
And burned a couple as the police arrived
Our barricade is beautiful
It is made of recycled text messages
Rooms for lovers, and even singles
We tried and tried before they shot us and took the living to jail
At the burning barricades you learn that
Saving is a two-way street
The ones you save, shall save you
I remember going out with this ambassador’s daughter
We couldn’t get over her aristocracy or my bohemianism
But she showed up at the barricade

We blocked them all night
The city is gorgeous
I went with the beautiful poet home
And we stayed up—sexless—for twelve hours
And full of each other we had eggs in the morning
And discussed the poetics of the barricades
Ah these barricades all over the city
Some poets moved on
And drove the buses
Some left and came back in different clothes
In the garden with the fountain
They sit and talk with God
The barricade’s cafeteria is cheap
Free for the police who hand out their rifles
Our food is prepared bourgeois style
I will continue on losing brothers and sisters
You won’t be the last I will lose
The barricade is a personal entity

Maged Zaher is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Consequences of My Body (Nightbook, 2016) and Opting Out: New & Collected Poems 2000-2015 (Chatwin Books, 2018) as well as two books of translations.  His novella On Confused Love and Other Damages was published in 2022 by Chatwin Books. He has edited and translated The Tahrir of Poems: Seven Contemporary Egyptian Poets (Alice Blue, 2014), featuring writers from the Arab Spring. He has also worked in civil engineering and software, and taught poetry writing at Seattle University.

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Three Fold recognizes, supports, and advocates for the sovereignty of Michigan's twelve federally-recognized Indian nations, for historic Indigenous communities in Michigan, for Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and for those who were forcibly removed from their Homelands. We operate on occupied territories called Waawiiyaataanong, named by the Anishinaabeg and including the Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), and Bodewatomi (Potawatomi) peoples. We hold to commit to Indigenous communities in Waawiiyaataanong, their elders, both past and present, and future generations.