Published on Academy of American Poets (

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. 


Copyright © 2019 by George Abraham. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January , 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“In the era of #MeToo, the hyper-visibility of survivors’ narratives shedding light on the unspoken truths of rape culture demands vulnerable and frustrating labor from victims of assault. However, stories of survival, especially at intersections like queerness and Palestinian-ness, are nonlinear. They are failed by both the culture that consumes them and the English language itself. How can I tell the story of my body, as it is unwritten by this language on interpersonal and national levels, in a way that is foremost accountable to my Memory and my Truth, even when it resists constructs of linearity, cohesion, and digestibility imposed on the language of Survival by oppressive Western systems? What is a system, at its core, if not the sentences that write and, hence, build it?”
—George Abraham


George Abraham

George Abraham is the author of Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020), which won the Big Other Book Award, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry

Date Published: 2019-01-29

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