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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Finger Spaces; The Rumor Factory; The Wash before the Wash

By: Rasha Alduwaisan

Finger Spaces


words need to breathe        my love

they need space          try again          

this time              put a finger 

between  and bird        

bird and in      sit down 

leave your brother alone     look   

at the lamp posts outside   

no       you cannot go    


see  how each one stands   


boring is a bad word               

look at the trees     their roots       

    need soil, so much soil 

fine let’s go            

put this on            no

the other way      come here       

stay next to me           

hold this soil stroke these roots        

    stay away from that man  

stay away            from that box             

don’t touch                          that bird. 

The Rumor Factory

looks more like a laboratory –

our deeds dissected

by faceless bodies,

our selves splayed out

on marble countertops,


powdered & packaged.

I have always kept my steps

silent, my voice soft,

as though I had small creatures

sleeping under my clothes,

their fur against my skin.

I found comfort in the

unpeopled places, parks

at dawn, markets at dusk,

museums off season.

Trees could never snatch

stories from my lips.

Lately, however, I have felt

a tautness in my chest,

like the tug of claws,

loud gasps as I try to fall asleep.

Tonight, I invite my demons

to the warm glow of this table,

stroke them with my pen,

fill their lungs with air.

The Wash before the Wash

for the mushrooms

on my spoon,

scatter of spores,

butter down the drain.

The wash before the wash,

for the cells in her breast,

the bones I cannot reach,

cannot scrape clean.

The wash before the wash,

for the machine in my head,

the voice ringing, rinse and repeat,

rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.


Rasha Alduwaisan is a Kuwaiti oral historian. Her poetry has been published in The Cordite Poetry Review and was selected to appear on The Poetry School’s website. She holds an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University.

Interview with the Poet:

Cathexis Northwest Press: How long have you been writing poetry?

Rasha Alduwaisan:

About seven years. CNP: Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?


One of my most treasured books as a child was A.A. Milne’s Now We Are Six and I remember being enraptured by Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” when I was at secondary school.

But the words of Zeina Hashem Beck are what turned my affection for poetry into something much deeper. Her poems touch on social, cultural and political realities in this part of the world in a way that is so relatable, powerful, tender and beautiful. “Maqam” and “Naming Things” are two of my favorites.

CNP: Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?


Zeina Hashem Beck, Sharon Olds, Rita Dove, Tishani Doshi, Ada Limon, Charles Wright, Rumi, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth Bishop, Safia Elhilo. CNP: Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?


My thoughts need momentum in order to take shape, so I like to brainstorm, free-write and carry the ideas with me everywhere. I love this immersive, generative part of the process – it feels like moving to music nobody else can hear.

CNP: How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?


Most of my pieces are in free verse. I gravitate toward shorter lines but tend to let the poem take the lead.

CNP: Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?


Enroll in classes. Find a mentor you admire. Read widely to see what resonates. Journals are brilliant as they show us the many ways poetic voice can manifest itself. Poetry podcasts can also offer such intimate insights into the creative process.

CNP: What is your editing process like?


Daunting! It involves lots of tinkering with word choice, syntax, line breaks and rhythm. I try to draw out the thread of a poem, re-stitch and cut away what feels unnecessary. The scraps are kept in a figurative pouch I can dip into when writing other pieces.

CNP: When do you know that a poem is finished?


I rarely feel like a poem is finished – only pinned down at certain moments in time.


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