My country was young, so was I.
Oil gushed out & diplomats rushed in,
mirrored skyscrapers filled the horizon—
one mirage replaced by another.
We recited quran, sang nasheed al-watan
every morning in the also-young decade—
The 1980’s sprung neon along the Red Sea.
& my thoughts revolved with smuggled
new wave cassettes, my driver believed
the tape deck malfunctioned when
The Human League sang Love Action.
The banishment of Madonna incited a run
on hair dye: Like a Virgin was haram
so I listened: weren’t we also shiny & new?
Overnight, new roads led out of Jeddah—
asphalt untied the desert with long fingers.
I was never born to drive it so I dreamed
from the backseat that the new airport
& compounds would bring the world to me.
Weren’t we fresh, weren’t we ripe?
We were richer, more fruitful than the top note
Wafting off a flask of Drakkar Noir.
By Majda Gama
Majda Gama is Saudi-American poet based in the Washington, DC area where she has roots as a punk, DJ and activist. Two of her poems were picked by Ilya Kaminsky as honorable mentions in The Fairy Tale Review’s inaugural contest, other poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gargoyle, Hunger Mountain, Mizna, War, Literature & the Arts and are forthcoming in Duende and the Hysteria anthology. As a transnational nomad living between East and West, Majda has permanent culture shock.