by Benjamin Stevenson
The abandoned construction
site we were parked next
to has gold buried underneath.
That’s why there are
always so many policemen
near it. “You see that girl
right there? She’s mukhabarat”—
informants for the government.
Her car’s license plate begins
with the number 14, and that’s how
you discern the difference.
There were only me and Hamed
in an old beat up jeep his parents loaned him
on weekends. Allegedly, Hamed worked
for the king, which is how he claimed to know
so many things I didn’t. Silently, I nodded
my small head and agreed as per usual.
Hamed passed me the near empty bottle
and continued on in his broken English,
“I want you to know that it’s okay
if you don’t want to be with me.
We can be more like brothers if you’d like.
You know? I think of you
like I think of my family
so don’t feel pressured to like me.”
As the conversation came
to a sharp close as I slipped out
onto the dilapidated concrete.
Then, Hamed promptly did the same,
shut his door and began walking me to the door
of my apartment building. I stumbled
into the building and towards the elevator,
Hamed began chuckling to himself.
Confused, I looked at him and waited for
his mouth to open again. He said to me,
“You look as if you are walking
with your father into a candy store to beg.”
The expression on his face
suddenly darkened as my
quivering finger reached for the up button.
Before I knew it,
Hamed was in the elevator with me.
His hands ready to take my hips and
his mouth much more open than the last
time I had seen him.
I’d been fed so much arak
that night, I couldn’t seem
to say no. I had played the game
in which I chugged as much
liquor my stomach could handle
before making up an uncomfortable
excuse to leave. But Hamed quit
believing my excuses somewhere
between the 3rd and 4th night I played with him.
This time he told me he only wanted to hug me
in the elevator, on the way up to my apartment,
but when he left I was still wiping the cum off my face.
Benjamin Stevenson: I am a writer and dancer from the US. I began writing confessional poetry first when I moved to Casablanca. Here, I began working on a research piece about gender and sexuality in the region. With time, this piece became more personal than I had originally expected. I returned to the states, finished my undergraduate studies at Emory University, and moved to Amman, Jordan. I don’t think a lot of things about who I am, really make much sense to most people. Still, I try and give people a glimpse as to why I am so seemingly melodramatic in the poetry and prose I write.