Thursday, February 2, 2017

Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience – Rasha Abdulhadi

Close up image of a microphone on a stage. The audience that is facing the microphone is blurred, appearing as a myriad of colors (red, white, green, yellow, etc.)
As the incoming administration builds its agenda of attack on marginalized people, on freedom of speech, on the earth itself, poetry will continue to be an essential voice of resistance. Poets will speak out in solidarity, united against hatred, systemic oppression, and violence and for justice, beauty, and community.
In this spirit, Split This Rock is offering its blog as a Virtual Open Mic. For the rest of this frightening month, January of 2017, we invite you to send us poems of resistance, power, and resilience.

We will post every poem we receive unless it is offensive (containing language that is derogatory toward marginalized groups, that belittles, uses hurtful stereotypes, explicitly condones or implies a call for violence, etc.). After the Virtual Open Mic closes, we hope to print out and mail all of the poems to the White House.

For guidelines on how to submit poems for this call, visit the Call for Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience blog post


The Holy Temple of Drag
for Pulse
By Rasha Abdulhadi

I sweat out my fever that night
in the holy temple of drag,
watching my baby sister in a mustache and codpiece
invite us all to take a walk on the wild side,
wholly supplicant to the divine glamdrogyny
that could be called down to dance through you
if you could wrestle free enough
if you could accept into your heart the saving power
of glitter. and rock-n-roll. and rhythm-n-blues.
and stank nasty love songs sung along from every stall
in the gender neutral milk hotel
every friday, saturday, and sunday night
offering a new watermark on your excitement
Until this sunday,

                             when my fever was breaking,
and you were dying, you and your partner, you and your
mother, you and the bartender and bouncer and the 18 year old
girl dancing her heart out and I can’t understand
how you weren’t me or my sister
with our shaved-head glitter-eye swagger

                             or our friends, our drag sistren and brethren
in a neighboring state where we partied
in defiance of laws that tried to deputize and sanctify hate

                             and I wondered
if the fbi had baited a hook whose sharp sting
went sideways-- or worse, if that barb
landed right where aim sent it
none of us, blackbrownredyellowqueer
tongues embroidered by other languages,
have expected safety for a long time, if we ever could or did
I do not mistake police or politicians for my friends
no matter what the press statement says
My best allies have always been resistance. Rebellion
really brings out my eyes. I find courage
is a look anyone can pull off and sanctuary
exists only in the interstices we hold open for each other.

                             and I wondered too
if this was personal, a story about the hidden body
of the gay Muslim—as occluded as the twelfth imam
who one day prophesy says may return
perhaps then gentle in form as a rainstorm
whose lips fear no kiss.

                             and it seems that nothing
will feel like justice until we heal
and that I must give myself to my nieces and nephews
like a bridge.

                             My southern, my muslim,
my arab, my baptist, my palestinian, my buddhist, my queer butch eyeliner
families, hear me: my self feels like the battlefield over which the daily news is
fought, the truth spiraled downfield to mark gains
for one military or another
while I’m trying to hold the world inside my skin
and calling all my kin to hear how they’re hanging on.

                             and you—
you texted your mother that night
to tell her you loved her.

may I, on the night I die, with the best of my courage,
have the last words on my lips be
                             I love you. I love you world that broke me, I love you slaying  
                             hand, I love you betraying friend, I love you
                             family that would not see me, I do not fear you for I knew my silence
                             would not save me, make me invisible or hide me from surveillance
                             that can find, detain, deport, or execute me just as surely
                             as the hand of any man trying to terrorize my temple,
                             and so I will not surrender these sacred spaces
                             or let them become mute monuments. I am not here to hug any racist,
                             and even if we will never be safe:
                             it is you I am am pledged to, always.

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