Rasha Abdulhadi

Koans to Love By

sweet as my lover’s concern and the solution
sweet as winning the argument and my lover’s pain

sweet as moth light in the mountains on a screen door
sweet as leaving gifts in the waiting homes of my friends

sweet as my lover’s shame and a long ride alone by the water at night
sweet as my lover’s regret at what we grew and harvested ourselves

sweet as she got it right this time, finally, my mother, I wish
sweet as a 3/4 ton diesel truck with a tape deck and a mountain highway

funny as the hell we make ourselves and the dog’s impatience with my reasons
funny as calamities visiting in group tours and an exit interview with nothing to lose

we danced like old folks on a long walk by the charles river
while the hours passed like books lent to friends
while the hours passed like casualties

A hungering word

I arrive first enemy of empty teeth
first and worst even before the hunter’s claw, lingering longer
long thin whine, ache in bellows and brain,
feeling that destroys other feelings
ambition killer, focus murderer, murderer outright,
thief of mineral in bone, thief of sugar for thoughts,
disaster of the body to scavenge itself

I am weapon always of the king
end always of the empire
threat of breadwinning withheld
what your family can’t or won’t feed you
the pit, the pendulum, the carrot, the stick
born triple sibling to desire and fear,
root deeper than anything you can learn or unlearn or choose

I have become        cudgel of tyrants,
cosmic excuse of robber barons washing their crimes in charity
an accounting error
the failure to distribute abundance
a carefully curated and choreographed theatre of death, a danse so macabre
          to keep us all in line, to keep us all on the factory line, to keep us all on the running wheel
dangerous margin sliced so fine, founding stasis of world order,
the match to light revolutions.

Rasha Abdulhadi is calling on you—yes you, even as you read this—to renew your commitment to refusing and resisting genocide everywhere you find it. May your commitment to Palestinian liberation deepen your commitment to your own. May your exhaustion deepen your resolve and make you immovable. May we all be drawn irresistibly closer to refusals that are as spectacular as the violence waged against our peoples. Portrait by JJ Dumont, 2020.