A Poem for Gaza, a Poem for Palestine

Gaza, the last thing you need is a poem. Don’t say!
I have nothing else to give. A poem is a poem…what can it do? Don’t say!
But simply be like a poem.

You were an open land, and
your sea was no sight
for blood. Yes, once upon a time,
you asked nothing
of the world,
and it gave you

Gather our words and toss them into
the empty well.
Screams don’t linger, but they do not

They lodge themselves
beyond the ear,
and once they begin to haunt
they appear, they

Corrupted by the attempt to apply logic
to the wound. We are all talk
no action!

We all know, that talk is talk
that’s why no one

Reality wounds can’t be mended by
thoughts. We all know—

Don’t keep me in your prayers, and please
spare me the guilt.

Where can the eye rest on the sight –
screaming children?

I want my words to spill blood and when I say
that once upon a time…
I want you to cringe
because this land has only one name—
and its people are only
its people

Call them what you may, that doesn’t change a thing—they too disappear
and they too will reappear—

Once upon a time, Gaza,
there was no need for anyone to give you any
empty words, like this poem. Your only hope
is to look us straight in the eye, and say once more, that you were,
and are, once upon a time.


Ahmad Almallah

Ahmad Almallah is a poet from Palestine. His first book of poems Bitter English is now available in the Phoenix Poets Series from the University of Chicago Press. His new book Border Wisdom is now available from Winter Editions. He received the Edith Goldberg Paulson Memorial Prize for Creative Writing, and his set of poems “Recourse,” won the Blanche Colton Williams Fellowship. Some of his poems and other writing appeared in Jacket2, Track//Four, All Roads will lead You Home, Apiary, Supplement, SAND, Michigan Quarterly Review, Making Mirrors: Righting/Writing by Refugees, Cordite Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Great River Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry and American Poetry Review. Some of his work in Arabic has appeared in Al-Arabi Al-Jadid and Al-Quds Al-Arabi. His English works has been translated into Arabic and Russian as part of the ongoing translation project, Your Language My Ear. He is currently Artist in Residence in Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania.


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