Two Poems by Khaleel Gheba

The Addams Family


It's all relative. My father had a mustache, but not the rapier. My mother had a face, but not the cinch, not the selective lighting. Every cousin, a mop. Every pet, a flurry over the floor. If you squint, it seems true. The lilies at night are ladies. You look up at the moon and it's a lost brother. A book is a key, a torrent, a world unto itself. But it's not. This is displacement on a grand scale, linguistic psychosis. Delightfully: a metaphor for love. Disgustingly: hate's disrobing. One thing cannot be another thing, but it can be a hand. I'm not making sense, which is lovely. At night, by the stars, ah, we are all our dads in motion, our moms in sway, disgusting, disgusting, which is another way of saying, Cara mia, I am uncertain. This is about union, not the slow turn of the rack, not the gap between the blades of mustache, which is my father's. No, I'm myself; I'm with someone; I'm my own marbled statute; with the epee's flick, I'm neither, none. I am a joy moving quickly.


The Fly

I'm a monster when you're gone. Everything's wrong. I want to blink and be delivered whole to there, transposed from A to B. But instead, the body remains right here. This stupid thing that is me. I can look at myself and find only outline, protein and fat, fixed in space-time. God's curse on man, they sez, was not so much mortality as locality, the body in precise position while the mind's alighted elsewheres. Distance, they sez. Curvature of the planet, a hip, a tit, an eye - two bowls of blackberries, side by side, in the deep white of kitchen light, each a scope into the depths of love. You set these out for me, before you went. Now they're soft and soupy, stink of rich liquor. Without you, who cares, so I eat it all. The crumbs in your bed folds, brown yogurt in the fridge, the dried rock of a raisin in your lunch bag, which I feel rumble through guts to my thoracic core. Each bit a coin-flip: vomit or absorption, adaptation, becoming. But I know, I know what they sez, I know: it's the little things that'll kill me. By the time you return, I'll be dead or something else entirely.


Khaleel Gheba received his MFA in Poetry from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2014. His work has appeared in DIAGRAM, Redivider, Split Lip, Parcel, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Maryland, where he works as a public librarian.