Searching for a Palestinian Necropastoral (Eve)

& I found it at the bottom of an american river—& in
the leaves which gathered at its surface’s semblance
of stillness, appearing & not so, as if endless

though counted for, & I found it not in the beams
of light, but how, electric & frantic, they danced beneath 
the water, like a choreography preceding any notion of

body, or unknowable twins returning to the half-self 
they could have never imagined & I found it in that half
-liminal light, divined into fractal’s endless—before split 

& risen, before splay & tempt, before 
womblessness became an american sadness & I found it
in my mother’s breath, her reek of rivers still

enough to pass as reflection & in the smogged 
aftermath of filter & filter &, I found it—there,
yes, there: in the wilderness rotting 

at the center of me—crater of me, tender cesspool 
unaccounted for, unnameable aside from the complacency 
of latex & in the tempt of men I will 

not fable, not legend, or border between. Because I cannot
taint this dark with all the names
they could not give me, the only crown I reach for 

is felled kingdom—this is how I fawn 
the toxic, flora. But is this not the first 
motion, of arriving at a pastoral: to have 

a past to run from? Though the Anthropocene of me
is memoryless as a pathing wind, as prayer’s
barter. Gethsemane of me, I beg of you a fruit

half-bitten & worm writhed—first language, bitter 
prosody of me. This is the only fall my body 
can muster: eclipse of. Lone, knowable 

nightfall. I cannot return to a weightless less american 
than this, the pulled into: body 
                                                    of me. Poisoning eucharist 

of. Take me into the canon’s night & may it be a good, 
good night—& may that night be anything, anything but 
            a mouth—anything                      but a body of—

Essay on Submission

Having ebbed in the disbelief of it instead of its weight.

Stone-tiled the floor the blood a trickling fire confessional.  

Here the ocean metaphor refused.

He tore me shut & seeping no vastness. 

To marvel or hide in.

Being told i don’t exist i laugh with wounded teeth into.       

The folds of his larynx a choir of bees rattle me.

Into myth less the mechanics of.      

Throat than the usage the context neither divorced from combustion.

Of birth more or less i forgave him before. 

He entered because he swelled for me i could never trust. 

Myself in his hands but i did want. 


Knocking leaning into the sliver of light he.

Missed the wastebasket he couldn’t bear. 

The sight of me i never slept.     

With the lights off i don’t know that. 


But i named it so it can’t be.      


Or rather question.

Of distance my skin.
And cold waters my skin and woundless.

Skin i wade in the contradiction. 

After i wanted only to be. 



Distance his hand & the small of my.

Back his hand & the lip.   

Of a waterfall here i reject the landscape.

Its vastness i don’t think.

We’re looking for the same thing you. 

And i you’d think olympus.     

Would dethrone itself of goldenrod leaves i told you it was. 

Blood did i claim it.

Mine i am built of avoidable. 

Violences with one drop apocalypse. 

The burning wilderness you can see yourself.

Out now histories like this cannot. 

Be known let alone escaped even the one.

Where i set fire to my colonizer i can afford neither. 

Reclamation nor reconciliation.


Unfragmented i cannot give you an ending. 
That isn’t body lunar. 

And concave staining instead. 

The bathroom floor. 

Unarcheology of ‘Father’

a Markov Sonnet, with thanks to Fargo Tbakhi

Baba, I held your hand as you were dying
Half-asleep, floating between Unknowing
And here: your gazed fixed into the greying wall.


Half-asleep, floating away from an unknowable
Here, your gaze was fixed past the wall greying
from hospital to hospice to bedroom to heaven.


Here, your gaze was fixed. Past the wall, greying
from hospital to hospice to bedroom, the heaven
of your unforgotten youth played out before us.


From hospital to hospice, from bedroom to heaven,
Your unforgettable youth played out before us: 1967,
Summer whispering in the ferns, gator dead on the mantle.


You un-forgot your youth and let it play out before
Summer whispered the ferns dead. A gator on the mantel
Meant hunting season was beginning, its heat coming still.


Summer was a whisper. Ferns, dead on the mantle. A gator
Meant hunting season was a heat you named beginning:
This is how you convinced yourself you were American. 


I wrote heat, and beginning, but meant hunting season.
This is how I know I am american: I can convince
Other men I am worthy of their roughest entries.


This is the shape of my knowing: I’m a convincing american
To other men who see, in me, a rough entry. A worthy
Hole would know when to submit, how to say daddy. 


To other men, I am a rough entry, a worthy
Hole. I know how to submit, call daddy
Undeserving men: all spittle, teeth, and thrashing.


Hole I once submitted to, Daddy where once
Was undeserving man: in all the spittle and thrashing,
He was my first love, my earliest childhood friend.


When I was spittle & thrash, I thought myself undeserving
Of him. Being in love with my earliest childhood friend
Was how my body first taught itself to swallow.


I once was in love with my earliest childhood friend.
This is how my body first learned to swallow
the impossible wound of itself: summer quieted to whisper.


I first taught my body to swallow itself
As a wound scraped quiet on an impossible summer.
Baba, it was you who held my hand as I was dying.


I quieted the impossible wound of my body,
Baba. I held your hand while you were dying,
Half-asleep. I let you float off, Unknowing.

Related Poems


However broken the sentences
you believe them preferable to silence

the kind that crowned
the remains of the village

Kabri was without a fight

or the park now at its entrance,
past the foundation stones beneath the picnic benches

to the fig trees huddled over headstones.
Kabri looms large over heavy branches,

the name a contraband clutched in throats.
Homeland of water, the guide said that

Reshef, who was together with his brother got hold of a few youngsters, lined them up

the springs of Kabri quenched all the villages
of Akka, moistened the lips of morning.

He recounted their names
عين مفشوح عين فنارة عين العسل

fired at them with a machine gun. He was a brave fighter.

songs of plenty their syllables cascading
over us in light soft as apricot skins.

I wonder at these park benches
perched above the ruins of another woman’s home.

our friend urged us to proceed, it was not too long before they took us and a few others.

You unsheathe your fear when the body count rises.
You calibrate majorities, try to mitigate the distance

from doorstep to checkpoint. I hear
the language of sunbirds trilling in the carob trees,

There a Jewish officer put a gun to my husband’s neck, “You are from Kabri?”

Someone had to choose
to position a park bench with a view of the village

took away my husband, Ibrahim, Hussain, Khalil al-Tamlawi, Uthman, and Raja.

cemetery, of the monument to the conquering
brigade. Your fears demand fortification and I’m left to exhume

An officer asked me not to cry. We slept in the orchards that night. Next morning

the names beneath your settlements, to dust
time off their letters. Find me

on the way to the village courtyard I saw Um Taha. She cried and said,

a language for us to grieve those whose children
wait precious few kilometres from the park benches, relegated

“You had better go see your dead husband.” I found him. He was shot in the back of the head.

to a camp’s sewage-filled alleys, to half-streets,
shuttered beneath a net of refuse, the thorn-strewn path. Enough

for each of us, let this language be enough
or let silence

                     final, diluvial.


*with italicized excerpts from The Palestinian Exodus from Galilee, 1948 by Nafez Nazzal and Sacred Landscape:The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948 by Meron Benvenisti. 

Blue Palestine

Only one grass whistles out the tooth of my horse
And the moon drops fast behind the fences
And the wheat lolls back
And waits for death

I could see the sea from where I was
My mesh hat shone blue

The jagged cheek of Gibraltar
Solid, sucked in the mouth and never melting
Where my dog’s warm underleg soothes the whetstone
I speak of it thusly
I say it thusly
I lisp its name into the curl of wall stained dark in the impression of my mouth

Only one grass whistles out the tooth of my horse
And the moon bends back
And the wheat lolls back
And opens its stomach
And waits for death

I soak it in my black water
It seethes in bags I have hung up among the rafters
It seethes in bags of amber and jasper transfusions
Flower liquids in cellophane pouches
Streaked with goo clots of plastic soldier sun

When the pitcher is poured out the length of my tongue
And ten vats of grease ignite in unison

Only one grass whistles out the tooth of my horse
A too-tight phylactory
The moon bending back
The wheat lolling back
Scrollboxes clattering on the stone
Jugs of gasoline and jugs of sand

I threw my coat on the sea
The velvet sea
My coat spread
My coat spread
It was the blue of the top of the column of milk
Its soaked embroidery
It was the ditty two winds whined into the anus of night
Skating along the floor of the brook
Are leaves and ice. Devolving on the brook floor
It is only one little one. One blue shard of pale Palestine.
The wineskins are pricked
Goats’ udders banged sore
Where mica lodges in the mucus house

Where my velvet is sucked down
Where the cheek blows thick with sleep to be brushed by the sea
Blue Palestine
Wrung swan neck in oil
Tasseling dirty day with rocks that fly and fly and fall and fall and fall.

The moon bends back
And the wheat lolls back

A cracker whitens on the tongue of the hanged man
My velvet is sucked down the sea
The sea wall is chipped blue
The clock of Palestine
Gulls’ salt beaks
Iron drums soldered shut and stuffed with salt cod
An anvil of rammed earth in the form of a baby belly button
Hair raised on the hat of the imperatrix
Embossed forever in her brass annal

No grass screams against the foot of my horse
No rock whinnies down the side of the sea
No scroll staves off the reeds quivering in my rib wall
And no algaes quiver
And no frogs belch out the tablet over the song of my purchase of night
Blue Palestine
Red sucker bloody on the bib of the world
Blue Palestine
Ice tray soaked in solid sun

14 February 2012

I Belong There

I belong there. I have many memories. I was born as everyone is born.
I have a mother, a house with many windows, brothers, friends, and a prison cell
with a chilly window! I have a wave snatched by seagulls, a panorama of my own.
I have a saturated meadow. In the deep horizon of my word, I have a moon,
a bird’s sustenance, and an immortal olive tree.
I have lived on the land long before swords turned man into prey.
I belong there. When heaven mourns for her mother, I return heaven to her mother.
And I cry so that a returning cloud might carry my tears.
To break the rules, I have learned all the words needed for a trial by blood.
I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them a
single word: Home.