Off Script

forsake the narrator - rambling and dull -

            let us try something new: you walk 

            to the other side of the city with 

            a static in your head. it takes 

            everything you have to not tell 

            yourself that this the beginning 

            of a story. wait - you’ve done it 

            again. you’re doing it now.


just the rush of images. this world is not

            your novel. just the petroleum 

            jelly on your lip, the bloated 

            abdomen tucked in jeans. the 

            copper keychain from your 

            sister that impales your thigh, 

            only that throbbing and nothing 

            else. just the south-east Asian 

            store clerk that hands you back 

            your debit card over a pack of 

            cigarettes that you’ve bought –

            not his family, or that look in his 

            face that tells you nothing but 

            the beginning of some plot that 

            you construct in your mind. not 

            his mother shouting for him over 

            a long-distance phone call in a 

            language you can’t conjure, not 

            that first silence when the credit 

            runs out and the line cuts. not 

            that clench in his gut when he  

            wonders if she’ll die before he gets 

            a chance to call her back.


just the soft air of this Tuesday,

            on your neck

            and wrist. only that. 

Talal Alyan is a Palestinian writer based in New York. He has written about politics in the Middle East for various publications including Vice News, Al Jazeera English, Huffington Post, and Daily Beast. These poems are from an ongoing project he is working on about the intersection of narrative and noise.