benediction, with lines from bruce springsteen
everything dies, baby/ that’s a fact/ but maybe/ you’ll be an alien/ now/ some kind of beauty queen/ a splendored thing many/ hands would lose their fingers to caress/ yeah, buzz your hair/ call it a new day/ a collection of many things, splendored/ with sequins/ from the dollar store/ you know, now, you’ll be ninety-five cents at the dollar store/ grubby, weighing heavy in the pocket/ so close, but never enough/ oh little one, i hope you’ll be alright/ i hope you know you’ll jingle, anyway/ everything that dies/ someday comes back/ so/ promise me, little many mine, we won’t outlive/ the splendorthings/ that grow from the dirt/ or between the legs/ or within the chest cavity/ or between the teeth/ no, if we’ll die/ let’s die all at once and call it/ the end of every thing/ oh, i hope/ you know/ i’ll still love you in the morning/ my splendor, my many, my thing/ when you close your eyes i know you’ll see ocean/ let it lull you to sleep/ i hope you know you’ll dream of elevators/ plummeting/ always unsure if they’re going down/ or, somehow, up/ i’ll be waiting for you once you find out, baby/ i’ll be home, sitting cross-legged/ here in the mirror/ put your makeup on/ fix your hair up pretty/ meet me tonight/ somewhere/ we won’t look back/ an elevator rocketing upwards/ the doors sliding open/ the seawater, flooding in
dream in which i am married to ethan hawke
at an hour of the morning my friends would be impressed by-
say, 8:00, maybe even 7:30-
my eyelids drift open.
the garage doors of the face, dream-ethan called them
once, the pads of his fingertips teaching the lilies of my eyes
a tap dance. dream-ethan’s fingers are fred astaire and i’m
no, i’m his shoes- no, the stairs he’s dancing
down- oh, forget it,
i’m the rhythm he’s dancing to. i’m the violins. and
the shoes. and the stairs. and ginger,
i’d always wanted to be ginger but i never
had the feet for it, the grace, the whiteness-
but in the dream,
there is no whiteness, so i can be as much ginger
rogers as i want,
every inch the ball gown, the confidence- backwards,
in heels. in the dream where i’m married to ethan hawke,
no one owns anything: not land, or clothes,
or dvd copies of dead poets society.
the world’s got no borders. all my shoes fit.
i know just what to say and
what language to say it in, my tongue agile as a pole vaulter,
launching its way into dream-ethan’s
earlobe in a perfect arc. it reaches a zenith and comes down like an
my tongue can do the splits in this dream,
without tearing one language or another. my tongue
licks arabic and english both, unravels dream-ethan
with its fluent oscillation.
in the dream, i get out of bed, look at my body
and i like it. (this is a miracle
i cannot overstate. this is lazarus, and wine, and the
laughter of infants. this is nuclear fission.) i touch my
face in the mirror and feel
that it is just a face- not a child on a poster,
not a most wanted. only a dollop of godliness,
wanted just the right amount.
and in this moment i love the tips of dream-ethan’s fingers more
than i have ever loved anything else.
i love dream-ethan
with a bigness in which i am a
universe and he is entropy-
baby, you’ll be the death of me. darling,
you could not exist
without my body to break down,
your restless feet dancing up and down my walls-
royal, sending me kisses
on disintegrating letterhead. oh,
this message will certainly destruct, but it won’t be of
its own volition this time-
wait, wrong ethan.
i tell him you are a horse, ethan (in the dream i call him ethan,
not dream-ethan. he is real as
fungus. he sweats and i stop to lap it up,
lovingly, knowing it means he can
exert himself. dreams cannot
and i am also a horse. i love you like a horse loves
another horse: without metaphors or language.
with hooves and wild breathing.
the way i moved,
those lips i found here, the way i asked
when i’d tickle your feet- the way i’d trim your beard-
i could die here,
just here, hairs dripping spit-like from
those miracles you swear are only lips
(i know they’re
more than flesh, baby. in the dream you can’t hide it.
no, in the dream (the one where i’m married to ethan hawke)
everything is more than
flesh: my eyeballs are coal pieces. all the yards of my
skin? givenchy gowns. my heart a bubble of soap, suspended,
floating in air
until it finally can’t resist the tension and decides to explode
(about as long as a kiss with you,
dream-ethan. about as long as the life of a mayfly)).
and yes, every second of this is fantasia,
but i just don’t seem to care anymore.
i dream so i can move at all tomorrow morning.
i dream because in the dream, i do not look away from ethan hawke
to check my phone for the latest death toll.
in the dream i’ve got a family i can speak to.
in the dream i inherited nothing but this jawline, this mustache.
i dream because in the dream you love me, and that love
does not get followed home by a lurching, muscled
golem, with a tongue that wraps itself too tightly
around the body.
i dream to love the body.
i dream so i can wake up
i wake up smiling,
the sunlight streaming in,
then lakeing: a
placidness. a calm.
i glide to the kitchen. i make dream-ethan hawke
a cup of arabic coffee, which he sips at the table
while i read him a poem.
that’s lovely, darling, dream-ethan hawke tells me, kisses me on the
and in the dream, a river surges through me and does
not split me
i collapse like a candy wrapper, drawn tighter than a drum,
moments away from springing back
i sink into the sunlight,
floating on my back in a lake
made of warmth.
Fargo Tbakhi (he/him) is a bi, Palestinian-american performer and writer in phoenix, arizona. his work has been published in Maudlin House, Ghost City Review, and Cotton Xenomorph, and is forthcoming from The Ellis Review, Crab Fat Magazine and Cosmonauts Avenue. he tweets @youknowfargo.