it’s a britney mo(u)rning

2021, hospital dream:
I wake up half-cyborg,
performing open-heart surgery
my brother covered in graveyard, half-buried, alive in making

VHS tape, 2002: I stand in a denim skirt, age six, boom-box blasting,
baby-face screwed in focus ____I move into memorised choreography
my brother rolls the skateboard we stole together from an american
boy ____when we scaled the wall into the cement compound, dropped
onto the burning asphalt and stole the neon green board behind the boy’s eyes
into the frame, pushing his will inside against my shrieks.

I take away his love; split it, slice it into nothingness
let the void eat his heart before it eats him into death.
he objects, objects, objects.

my brother is dead.

I miss him
our pillow-forts wa all of our secrets he died with

once, I didn’t desire death so ardently. it sticks to me now, horrifying alive.
I walk in the white cloth, notes of burial making skin

kuwait, 2003: we are at the surgeon’s. I am drinking
mama’s nescafe, she is crying____fifth surgery — they split his face open, drilling
his nose into oxygen. my headphones are blasting,

britney vocalises in tandem:
I must confess that my loneliness is killing me ____now don’t you know I still believe
that you will be here and give me a sign ____ hit me baby one more time

we drowned ____ the skateboard instead of ____ return, laughed at
our resistance, the running tension____ the refusal to break. our home
town sun burning us ____into Arab____ all bloody gums
and date tongues.

my brother wakes up in the midst of surgery, yelling
if I remove his heart____he’ll kill me. I almost want this;
to die by his side. the album is still playing, his chest cut wide open.
it’s easier to look at him alive and bloody like this than to

in a morgue, in a coffin, in the white gauze, in the soil, in return. I spend
my life missing ____myself____ my brother. I lose half myself in blood

wondering how much body I will slice to show you how
I have died.

between a palm tree
& qiyameh

my grandmother appears before me in a dream. I am a bride here, dancing with my groom
my grandfather stands next to her, clapping with the others. my grandmother takes my arm,
pulls me to a table and tells me to remember something important. when I woke, I had forgotten her words. her last piece of advice from beyond the grave.


landscape: desert, undisturbed
palm trees in thickets, swollen dates, pits
sliding wetly between teeths & tongues

I have been dreaming of ____ qiyameh
since news of the annexation broke:
_____________________________________the stillness
of my dreams rivets me; ____I allow my old__
lover to hold me in my dreams ____again
____________________I fall in love with him all over
_________________as the world melts under our feet

here, we hear ____the sea
____________ sing for a moment
________before we are stricken down
it is merciful ____,I believe,
for ____my last moments
to exist in full love


________in my dreams, I felt fear
when the Fire aimed for me; ________we knew
each other ________intimately

I did not run ____but
burnt in a second with my lover’s arms
around me; ________together;

_________________we saw
____ in/finite others swallowed
______________by the fire bas
for the last second____
ana & hweh, entangled
my last thought / ____the last
record of humanity: my love
for him, his love for me.


when my grandmother took my arm,. I saw the limestone, not the trees
I mean. Palestine — always a backdrop.


the annexation begins ____1.7
the news reaches even my mother
her voice goes out for a day.


I dream of al-qiyameh
the palm trees disappeared from
view; instead ____I wandered
mundane settings __until my past
lover held my hand


we sit ____in the second
in a bathroom ____my arms
hold his neck keeping
his lips angled on mine

in this dream ____we are all
collectively struck
________God Speaks:
the years will span bas
______kilna ____will end

I am on a fire-escape when ________
al akbar thrums
he pulls body from ____shadow
we laugh, ____leave the bags
what of capitalism when God has Spoken?

________we are kissing
________in the bathroom,______my arms
____________rest on his throat, his hands
____________pulling my waist closer

________tragic, dream-self realises,
________we cannot kiss until eternity weeps
________herself into an end

he pulls us outside, my family
& a hovercraft________________
destination: palestine


the moonlight opens our hands
I re-learn him
from the moon’s guidance


our love is soft &____________
______when he kisses me
_________I feel brave___ enough to meet
Death on our doorstep ____;I love him,
all over again______


the annexation is two weeks away
for three days, I have died
and woken up


on the second night, I fall awake
in a meadow ______I forget kef
we die in this dream

bas I turn my head
______he is sprawled along
the grass, long legs_________
eyes closed ___,wildflowers
& olive trees hiding us away

al sama’a ______________
damning rivers_______________
into Judgement______________

he opens his eyes, grins________
pulls shoulders into him_______
_________I fall in love with him
______________for the second night in a row


in the air, I see cairo’s
palm trees


the wall behind him
_________is crumbling, giving way
____________to the moon

__________________my thighs curve over
_________________________his hips, his lips fall into mine

________________________I do not mind dying in such
_____________________ a state to ___be so in love


__________al-qamar wa al-qiyamah / pull & push
_________zey al bahr / they open our secrets
_________in this dreamscape, we are not afraid


landscape: palestine______

_____________________we fall in love ______three nights in a row
in my dreamscape, he holds me as we perish
________he spends my dreams holding me & when he kisses me
_________________I cease my search; ______to end in love! ___what a kiss from God!


leena aboutaleb is an egyptian palestinian made in btwn spaces. currently a graduate student at the george washington university, she spends her time working in futurisms. she can be virtually located on instagram @leena.jpeg.

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