the day war came

the day war came 
i folded 
into a million pieces

as 
europe
took up arms 
to defend her homeland

becoming the sorrow 
found in every note 
in a playlist 
awaiting the apocalypse 

the day war came 
i folded 
into a million pieces
more

becoming the rage 
found in every immigrant 
whose motherland was once

invaded
 raped
 and pillaged 

by foreign policy 

in places where
mud is fertile 
enough to fetishize
the glow of dark skin 

dancing at the threshold
of orientalism 
and military occupation 

western imperialism 
rearing its 
ugly head 

now tell stories 
littered with double standards
in the grips of lessons 

familiar 
to the psyches 
of my 
people

notice the silence 
between sentences
and in long gazes

it’s full of answers,
hear the breaking of clouds 
before the thunder 
claps 

notice the pretense 
in words
hoodwinked,
something hopeful 
or patriotic

certain struggles 
are worthy of fanfare 
and heroism

these are the hands 
that carry 
a new world order 
into clear skies 

the same hands
that lift ashes into mouths 
used to being fed
lies and conspiracies 

i was 7 when 
9/11
happened 

growing up,
words like terrorist 
and uncivilized 

sprang across screens
in every home
as america waged 
her holy wars  

on foreign lands
and peoples 
felt deserving of death
and destruction

while the earth slept,
we traveled 

traversing makeshift borders:
into damascus 
beirut 
and 
the west bank  

over the entrails of
kabul 

transgressing boundaries:
into the belly of 
baghdad

once
the cradle of 
the world’s civilization 

call us what we carry 
inheriting the war 
and traumas 

that crossed a bridge 
as it trembled 
and drowned us at sea

holding skeletons
and secrets
i would never say
but would rather sing 

refugees 
gaze at the ocean
in search of home

eat salt
learning to breathe
in luminous waters 

be warned 
the ticket to safety 
will be your proximity to whiteness 

the tabloids say
this tidal wave of migrants
is different,
this time 

they are clean,
prosperous,
educated,
middle-class folk 

don’t worry
they are not from 
the middle east

not black or brown 
dirty or violent 
and certainly not,
disposable 

they will not steal your jobs
or raid your homes 
they are
just. like. us. 

freedom,
now
looks like 

strapping a bomb
to your chest
and declaring your kinsman:

a
  brave
hero 

he died for 
his country 

martyrdom 
looks different depending on 
where you come from 

what you look like
and 
who you worship 

today,
allies of the world 
welcome boycott
divestment
and sanctions 

against the sworn enemy
sending their troops
and missiles 
and well wishes

but none for saigon 
cape town 
or the ira  

the day war came 
pleas of scorched suns
summoned omens 
of sacred covenants 

rupturing treaties 
and two-state solutions 
wondering,

whatever happened 
to the dead and 
their portraits?

one of these days 
when lilacs bloom 
between cracks of doorways 
and regimes 

i will unlock the cage
for all to witness 
soothe wings that take off 
into radioactive turmoil 

bones will crow
but at least,
what you have heard 
is true 

we are coming 
to take back what is 
rightfully ours

and we’ll rise in the sky 
together
free,
at last. 

lh
mar 2022 

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