poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Zein El-Amine



I walk with Henry, west on U Street.
He points out the corner at 14th,
where the People’s Drug once stood,
tells me how in ‘68
Stokely walked in there, told the manager
to close up shop, walked all the way down
the 14th street corridor and repeated
his warning to every store
before the whole thing was set on fire.
Henry is talking about how this city was the city of the Duke,
of Louis, of Ella, of Langston before it was of the developers’:
the Hoffmans, the Clarks Miller and Longs;
when suddenly he stops mid-sentence
before a tanning salon on the ground floor of a new condo
bearing the name “The Ellington.”
He yells out for the entire street to hear:
There is a fucking tanning salon in the Ellington!
The blond-haired, paint-by-number
owner, that we mistook for a mannequin for a moment,
mistakes Henry’s indignation for endorsement
and yells back:
Yes! And today we have a half-off special!


Zein El-Amine was born and raised in Lebanon. He came to the US in the late 80’s, and earned an MFA in Poetry from the University of Maryland. His poems have been published in DC Poets Against the War: An Anthology, Penumbra, Gyst, and Joybringer. He is a winner of the Tallahassee Writers’ Association Annual Poetry and Haiku Contest. His short stories have appeared in the Uno Mas and Bound Off. His translations of Sheida Mohmadi’s poems appeared in Stylus.


Published in Volume 11, Number 4, Fall 2010.

To read more by this author:
Zein El-Amine: Wartime Issue