People say write a poem about it.

And I probably will since

leaving an empty space where a poem needs to

exist is like locking the door on a hurricane.

Spilling out, this poem will elude me.

Trimming it into a tidy hedge,

I’ll hear children stuck in full stops.

Neat spaces between words, over they’ll jump like

endless rows of dead mothers, brothers.


Probably somewhere in Gaza

a woman sucks in her tummy one

last time. Looking in a gold-

edged mirror willing to be body positive under

siege. Another sits at a desk, hobbled by the

terror of attacks or the blank page

in front of her. Keyboard clacks, backspace –

No more murder becomes never was.


Pinching the parameters of Palestine on a map, she

adjusts, dragging outwards, filling

lungs across the land, as people walk with

ease between this ancestral olive grove, this

settler complex. “Welcome” they sang, to the boats

towed into a Palestinian port long ago.


“The Germans destroyed our families and homes – don’t you destroy our hopes.”


Palestinian bakeries are targets. To kill the spirit you cannot

allow the scent of fresh baked bread because

loaves carry life. Day to day to day life and if you wish to

end a people you must crush all joy.

Silence the laughter. I wonder, do the birds still

sing in Gaza? I don’t know if they can


patchwork a nest above genocide, rolled out like

a macabre carpet – “Snakes and rats,

listen!” says the voice on the phone. “We, your benevolent

enemy will destroy your hope and home in five.

So run.”  And I am running too.


Past the empty nests, the blackened bakery.

A metallic voice from the sky,

laughs, “don’t destroy our hope” as clouds

empty poison and I run across the map.

See the writer, she runs with me. The woman, body


positive runs. She runs for fear not fitness

and we run, we run. Back to the safety of an empty poem,

looking for a space on the page.


But the poem is dead.

The woman, her body negative, dead.

Words lost in the dirt. The writer is dead.

Birds’ hearts bursting in pain. Dead

And I am dead, we zombie dead,


fingers stained red scrolling

soundbites and socials

of the dead.

But the dead are silent,

as we are silent,

as the corpses we skip

with a swipe of our witness finger.

We are dead to the dying in Gaza.

Back to Hanan Issa’s Commissioned Poems and Creative Work