the child within

you’ve been here before 
the child within
never forget

the child within

hurt was here
long before we were
to collect the names
of every stranger

whose ever taken our
kindness for

will you come and play with me?
ride the waves
until they settle my little beating
bones of milk and honey

be gentle,
my heart still hides wounds
that never bleed

time doesn’t heal all
but it gives us comfort
to think it does
don’t we?

why else would we
praise the rain
when it pours

in puddles that carry waters made of tears

hoping that tomorrow
will carry the weight
of an encyclopedia of a broken heart

relieve the burden of its
volumes upon volumes
onto solid ground

lay flowers on sidewalks
that bear witness to
the pain

shed skins
tossed into the wind
with spirits
and ghosts of our recent past

that testisfy
to the joy

of night skies
and shooting starts
that steal kisses at midnight

and the love

wading in typhoons
of butterflies and roses

you’ve been here before
the child within
never forgets

the child within

to heal,
you will cry
a lot

until neptune
washes away your sorrows
in holy waters

that baptize
the blood curdling screams
in the abyss
of apollo’s fire

you will laugh
until you have crow’s feet
for eyes

and the song of achilles
drum up

love was here
long before we were
to look into the eyes
of every loved one

whose ever held our
leading us back to

coming home
to oneself
is like finally having
the homecoming
you were never allowed to have

you stand at the intersect
of what was
what could have been

and you realize that
you will break

but oh,
you will mend
the hearts touched by
crimson kings
and demons

because you are here
you have arrived
slinging arrows and bolts
from the thrones of queens

you are here
the child within
never forgets

the child within in
will thank you

the child within


they. always. remember.

nov 2021

i hear them calling

memorial at the vancouver art gallery honouring the 215 indigneous children whose remains were discovered at the kamloops indian residential school in bc (photography by ben nelms, courtesy of cbc)

this soil is drenched in blood
that runs across highways of tears 
and scorched pavements 

beneath the trenches of this land 
hear the whimpers of an ailing mother earth

her children
their bodies discovered 
by dragging knuckles 
across unmarked mass graves 

dousing gasoline on flames and traumas 
that devour smoke
and entire nations 
like a furnace 

piercing shrieks 
rumble partition walls 
between shriving pews

that hold pages of gospel
pressed between the blood-stained hands 
of priests
and rosary beads 

bear witness to the bones
and scattered ashes
the silence 

there’s nothing your half-mast symbolisms will do
to reconcile the wreckage 
you’ve unleashed on young spirits

i hear them calling 
hushed whispers
asking to come home 

if the root of oppression is the loss of memory
then is remembrance the threshold to justice?

an open door
towards a mosaic of truths 
a balm for healing

a tender loving softness
against these hardened plastered walls
built on genocide and theft 

oh, little ones
you deserve more than
empty apologies 
and hollow promises 

you deserve more than 
candlelit vigils and teddy bears

you deserve to be seen
to have your names and stories released
from these secret shrines

to finally put to rest everything that has ever hurt you 
you deserve justice 
we will keep fighting 
for you.

dedicated to residential school survivors and their families

june 2021

nakba ’73

palestinian refugee, “‘baq’a camp in jordan, 1967 (photography by munir nasr, courtesy of unrwa).

today is not a poem 
woke up feeling guilty for resting my head on the pillow
as gaza laid her children to rest 

i remember their faces 
their names scattered in a sea of stars and survivors
they came to me in my sleep last night 

we are hurting 
we are afraid
we are tired 

today is not a holiday
donned my mother’s taub and keffiyeh on my shoulders
as haifa and ‘akkā wrapped white linen 
around the limbs of lynched bodies 

to contain what’s left in the lasting rupture
between flesh and blood,
still warm 

between occupied and occupier 
between past and present 
or rather, 
between what was and what has become 

today is not a celebration
spoke with my uncle
prayed for his safety before wishing him eid mubarak

told me that death came knocking 
but fled as soon as it arrived 

he reminded me of memories we once shared
as if nostalgia can somehow erase the goodbyes in his voice

i wanted to say i love you
but couldn’t find the words
instead, i said:

i miss you amu
please take care amu
we will be reunited again someday inshallah  

what’s the equivalent translation of love 
for a people that have a long-lasting affair
with poets and hopeless romantics

i read somewhere once 
that when a body carries a trauma
not yet metabolized 
it learns that to love bares an attachment
not ready for loss 

catches on the tongue
slicing it in half 
i’m sorry for not being better when i had the chance 

today is not a feast 
ate kahk that tasted bitter
as our fingertips
curious and penetrating,
scrolled through our news feeds

sprinkled powdered sugar
until it resembled the tops of snow-capped mountains 
purged guilt and bile and confessions of an exiled mind

digesting the pleasure of sweetness
is a privilege my body cannot seem to bear 

today is not a ceasefire 
it is a liberation movement, uninterrupted 
sheikh jarrah was once every city’s worst nightmare

resistance is greater than this iron fist 
it also looks like jerusalem 
she was dancing colours and patterns 
children twirling in laughter and joyful bliss
all around her

a defiant hum 
something like a hopeful melody 
from the tops of the minaret speakers
of al aqsa:

we are an uprising, 

we are an exodus, 

we are an ode to the people, 
singular and united

we will never leave
we are here to stay
we are here
we are
we. are. 

may 2021

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