To My Future Lover or Killer

Graphic Nadine Abdellatif

Whatever it is

I want it

to hurt.

Not in the way hooks

                                        catch and drag across skin

but in the way a cold star 

travels through the heart and leaves

a peck 

of electricity in its wake.


When you walk by 

I’ll know who you are

because angels 

are always terrifying

are always cleaning


from under their nails/names.


Don’t ask me what peace is

doing in the wilderness

or about the Arabic alphabet

or why the inside of a pomegranate 

looks so much like a pair of lungs

and a pelvic girdle.


You have the tools.

You are supposed to be building

judgement here.

I just wear my pearls 

and undo the world’s blood-

sticky shoelaces.


I hope you will 

give me what I want.

I am all 

expectations, teeth

bared and poison-

eyed. Make it mean

something. Don’t 

make me beg. 

Been there done that

it always ends

with the broken gut

strings of a harp.


And if you fuck me

over                     consider the meat

already slaughtered.

You don’t love me


to birth me into a prophet.


Something will outlive this

body. Whether it is anger

or tenderness

I don’t know 

but I trust you 

will tell me soon.


This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 8, published December 6, 2022.