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Israel is at war in Gaza - again. I fought there in the past. Here are two poems I wrote there.





Soldier Passing Woman with Veil

Her eyes say

as they say

many words:

fear, for one

pupils darting from duct to duct,

searching for escape,

and wonder

at a world where power blushes.

Black eyes

coarse as the cloth that frames them,

oil slicks on goat's milk

viscously spread.

You may be my king,

my lord,

but not for a moment

my master;

your eyes

green as plastic pastures

melt in the vehemence of mine.

Glistening wince,

crinkled brow,

coy in the manner of killers—

might this be innocence,

could it be lust?

Not at her flock,

or the slough of the camp,

but at me she stares

as the command car passes;

not peace nor desire,

but with hatred

coquettish and quick.

Your dead, sweet soldier,

her eyes said,

you're dead.




Rondo for Deir al-Balah

Shorn of sweat

my body beads with poetry,

foodless,

it feeds on words—

gunbutt

ratgut

flackjacket, gas,

the sun the so-called rock

with my name on it.

There's rubber in the air

and skin upon the sand

smacked with human juice

from Deir al-Balah.

Reports like plangent seas

and the radio on my back

cackles of mortality;

the straps cut deep

in the refugee camp,

bind the heart

and lash the lungs

to the spikes of Deir al-Balah;

my name on rocks

and emblazoned on tin

which clings to the breast

now shorn of sweat—

liquid letters,

blood type B

it's all the same

to the sand of Deir al-Balah,

it sucks the words,

the poetry and pus,

and the stares that seep from alleyways

like open sewers,

yet for a breath

becomes your skin

cool and resplendent

unblemished but for the prints

which stitch the dunes down to the sea

foaming with mortality

and bears me to other sands,

other names,

written in rocks.

A shriek, a shot,

the air ablaze with gas,

the radio a rat

with claws for straps

which cut the camp

and shred the skin

shorn of sweat and poetry.

Flee through the alleyway

from the stares that run

like open wounds

and the sun inscribed

with my name on it.

Goat dung,

bloated tongues;

your sand, your sea

seethes with mortality

in dear old

Deir al-Balah.



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