Arabic

More

Each mark a motion caught in ink, a dancer’s
Slow kick, a series of bowing waves, the path
Of spilt salt—sharp Js sloping up and Is
Like silhouettes of men or minarets
Seen miles ahead. Sometimes a number I
Could recognize: the year, a price for dates
Or Dexedrine; the street-side signs defiant
As captives; every book impenetrable.

Our hands did all the talking, gave commands
To cars in gestures: “Stop” (a palm outstretched),
And after, “Move along” (a rolling wave).
Thumbs up for soccer balls, down for Saddam.
In crowds I’d cross my arms and shake at all
The baffled curses hurled in my face like sand.

Alexander Nemser is completing an undergraduate degree in literature at Yale. He won first prize in The Atlantic’s 2004 Student Writing Contest in poetry.
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In