Beloved: A Poem for Palestine | Poems that Suck

This is the poem that won the Anita McAndrews Poetry Award

There’s a funny story behind this poem:


It was written in January of 2017 – 1 month after I returned from Palestine the first time. It is the product of a class assignment: I had to write a Psalm using non-traditional language and non-traditional versing. I was PISSED that I had to write this (if any of you know me, there’s two parts of the Bible I cannot stand – Psalms and anything Paul wrote). I put it off for a week, grumbling and bitching about having to do it. I was, additionally, experiencing a major depressive episode at the time and just didn’t have the energy to do it. So the night before it was due, I sat down and wrote this.


Funny how life works out, huh?

You can read it here or below:

Beloved:

You called me to the ends of the Earth,
the place where your breath sighs,
so that I might suffer to find
brotherhood.

I met you at every step, the ochre
Judean sands gritting between my
toes as I tried to match you;
heel to toe.

Your spirit whipping my hair, as
I traced the desolate crescendos
of the South Hebron Hills in the dying
winter light.

I have known the fragile weight of you,
destroyed, in my open arms as despair
swallowed me on the rocky shores of
the Kinneret.

Heard your voice transform from singing
in a sumptuous Arabi to the shrill scream
of terror as I stood, useless, on the rooftops:
Al-Khalil.

I have seen your face in its forms of hurt
and healing; bruised purple, smeared with
blood, swollen; the gift of a crazed soldier
or settler.

Smelled the acrid stench of burning wire,
choking me, stinging my eyes as I trudged
knee deep in filth to bring your children
to kindergarten.

Beloved:

You have called to where my heart throbs
thrice: Fal-a-steen -and I can’t ever hope
to rid myself of the land, the people, or
the life.

You invite me, now, to receive you in
the fruit of the vine, to fill myself
with your sacrifice so that I might match you
heel to toe.

Waiting | Poems that Suck

"There's showers here,"
 I didn't think much of this information
  until I watched you walk toward the building -
   each step lingering - hope in every footprint. 

You stopped one last time, 
 at the doors of your destination
  and I could feel the glee of your 
   mischievous grin from across the field. 

I found you there, stripped
 bare and radiant in your beauty,
                        waiting for me...

A Promise | Poems that Suck

You were asleep, 
  laying face down
   on top of the tangled
     bed clothes.
      A Harvest moon hung
     low in the sky, peeking
    through the window shades
   and stretching its golden fingers
  of light up the length of your glorious,
 nude body. The moment hung in the salty, humid
air, like a promise of what was yet to come. 

Untitled | Poems that Suck

 "I love you,"
      you called to my 
        retreating back. 
 
 I wondered if
      it was exquisite cruelty,
         or reassurance.
 
 Maybe it was 
      a measure of relief
         for you,
 
 Since now, you
      never have to see
         me again. 
 
 Either way, it
      was a javelin to
              my (already fragile) heart.

The Untraveled Path | Poems that Suck

I have a photo of a place I love, 
 took it before I even knew you existed;
  a pathway drenched in the golden, afternoon light
   which lead to a small cluster of fragrant orange trees. 

We stood at that very spot once, 
 many years later and took a photo together.
  It's long gone but I remember it; 
   you arms were wrapped around my hips

Holding me delicately, as if I were a treasure.
 I was turned slightly, curled in the warmth of 
  your shoulder, eyes closed as you kissed the
   side of my head, on the temple, so sweetly. 

Every time I look at that photo,
 I imagine us there - ghosts of love
  that never blossomed, but had always stayed
   sweet - and I smile at what could've been.

Dope Fiend | Poems that Suck

All poets experience it, 
  that one mother fucker you
    can't stop writing about.

Try as you might to
  fight it, that witch got
    under your skin, jacked themselves
     into your veins and became a god damned
      firestorm in your circulatory system. 

Here's to you, 
  you little bastard. 
   Thanks for all the material. 

To Swallow the Sun | Poems that Suck

 Your long, thin finger crept
                       like a spider
           up my inner thigh.
 
 "Stop," I hissed through my teeth;
                 a warning. 
 "No one's looking, no one cares."
                and you continued
 your journey up the pale length of my skin.
 
 The pads of your fingertips reached their
                   intended destination
 and I sighed with the delicious feel of them,
 
 as I gazed, heavy lidded, at the sea,
                    head tilted back,
 as if I were swallowing the sun. 

The Unexpected | Poems that Suck

I was gazing out of the window 
 when I felt a soft touch on my 
  shoulder, as gentle as a whisper.
   When I turned to look, I saw your head
    hovering over my skin. The tenderness of 
     that kiss shocked me profoundly, as if you
      had touched some secret part of my being.

I blushed deeply at the obscenity of it. 

Closer | Poems that Suck

 Close was never 
                                              close enough.
 Even if 
 I could hear you in my head,
 visit you in my dreams, 
 feel you buried deep inside 
                                                   me. 
 It was never enough.
 Maybe if I could have
 peeled back the fragile
                                                 layers
  
 of your skin, cracked open
 your ribs and found some
                                               comfortable
  
 place between your lungs
 and spleen to burrow into,
                                                I would've
 been satisfied.