Tweaking, Tamer Mostafa

IMGP2340Untitled, London Bellman



I am alone in a parked car
near a convenience store
looking for a fix the size of a mustard seed.
I scratch my neck and forehead
where the sweat covers my eyes
like the time I swam in a lake
to find a fishing rod that dropped
out of the boat.

I remember the murkiness,
how the water flushed
my body’s weight to the bottom,
and the mud enveloping
my feet that continued to sink
into the sharp white shells
catching each toe
when I started flutter kicking
towards the surface.

Upon returning to shore
without the rod,
my grandmother, hearing of my expedition,
scolded me of the diseases in the water
that would make me sick beyond repair,
and I watched her catch a catfish
with a strand of line strung
to a stick on one end
and a hook on the other.

It’s the middle of the night
and I scour the floorboards,
scratching the fibers of the carpet
underneath my fingernails.
I need to keep looking.

Tamer Mostafa

Review by Benjamin Schmitt

Out of all the poems in this latest issue of the Triggerfish Critical Review, this is the poem that offered the most surprises to me. I truly did not expect to be taken from a car where someone is high on meth to a fishing trip with the same person and their grandmother. Through some extraordinary act of craftsmanship the poet is able to link these two otherwise disparate events smoothly. The seeking, the danger of the chemicals, and the elusive wisdom of previous generations are all themes present in both of the settings in this poem. Through all of them the poet weaves a work revealing how we are often stuck trying to learn the same lessons over decades.

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