Rami Karim

There needs to be a different word

I don’t know why the song is on repeat. If we
gave it another shot the apartment would
have exploded. We could’ve been sued. In
the brink of it I felt like spending every day
watching grass curl, just by looking at it. By
January I wanted a new body. Our faucet is
still leaking.

I’m not getting what I want so you’re a bad
person. I didn’t want to go on a date but
thought you’d think I was a slut if I offered to
hang in my room again, even though I just
wanted to smoke and talk and listen to the
new Black Moth.

Our parents are both brown so we’ll get
along, right? It’s a question of how to enjoy
trash media and still be a good person. Teach
me how to be gay. I never want to go
clubbing again ever.

Faggot is a generous word because I can use
it to reclaim myself or be rude depending on
my needs. My mom wanted me to keep
getting diplomas, it didn’t matter what kind.
She’s trying to set me up with her neighbor’s
daughter. I just want to be friends, really. I
want to help her choose a hairstyle and give
dating advice. My mom doesn’t know we’ve
already agreed to fake-date.

You post a hot pic and it makes me jealous so
I post one too and now it looks like we’re
planning a threesome because we’re
monogamous after all, and it’s not that we
fear the other leaving for those liking our
posts the day after a fight, even though we
said we were good and had sex after. 

The first time I heard a bomb it was actually
the sound barrier breaking. It was louder than
a bomb. If I say it one more time I become a

It takes more energy to hate than to ignore. I
still want to learn how to draw and decide no,
but also I don’t hate you and it’s ok that you
moved to LA. I would have been down but I
grew up there is all.

I know what you want me to say, but I’m just
saying there are plutocrats in brown countries
complaining about white people. Rich brown
people who won’t admit the context makes
them analogous to the white people they drag
on bad days. Maybe they do know.

Pretending not to be in love is turning out to
be hard. I preempted this by saying I was
busy and wanted nothing serious. I
preempted feeling anything on the ride home
when I tripped and pretended not to check if
you saw.

Can’t tell if I want to adopt a cat because I
love cats or I’m just sad. Can’t tell if I’m sad
or if we ran out of milk and I wanted cereal.

I exclusively fall for the sons of immigrant
mothers they at some point fell in love with.
Mine taught me love and attachment were
kind of the same. Now when she calls it’s
always “What did you eat?” and “How is
your health?” Sometimes twice in a day.

Institutions are bad but one of them gave us a
room to basically trash for a month. I didn’t
come over because it was late and I had work
the next morning. I want to be in love but not
publicly, if that makes sense?

What’s the word for empathizing with your
mom so much that you start to cry at the
same things? I should learn how to end
something. It shouldn’t be your fault that I’m
not getting what I want, so please stop me
from being wistful. If you play No Doubt,
we’ll never leave.

There is something about distance that makes
Fontana feel like a neon fantasyland. It is a
holiday at an immigrant church and not the
second generation’s fault they perform
nostalgia. Christians from Beirut say they are
French because of archways in the mall they
built there. I am interested in Sufism as a
stoner alternative.

I get to your room with the wrong snacks but
it’s cool because I have the next Kardashians
episode and we are past pretending our
watching it is anthropological. Is anyone else
coming? I believe it when you say it’s not
that serious. After, you scroll through Tumblr
porn while I call home on your fire escape.

There needs to be another way of saying no
to hanging or “I don’t smoke.” You said it
would have been better if I actually wanted to
help. I told you about when having ideals felt
more like narcissism than helping people,
which actually involves giving something up.



is a writer and artist based in Brooklyn. Their work has appeared in Apogee, The Brooklyn Review, The Invisible Bear, and Peregrine, and their chapbook is Smile & Nod (Wendy’s Subway, 2018).