Yaffa in Winter

In the old Arab neighbourhood of Yaffa,

the hens wander along dirty streets.

A rooster cries at dawn.

Worn-out houses, naked forever,

Sag, trying to survive

like wounded men on crutches.

Electric, phone and TV cables

mingle and merge like a sprawling spider web,

unnerving migrating birds.

Outdoor drainage pipes pose 

as traffic lights for stray cats and dogs,

unable to resist sniffing the ground

inhaling the stink from the gutters.

A car parks on the sidewalk

of a narrow street.

An angry teen throws a stone and cracks

his neighbour’s frail A/C,

then runs away.

Yaffa’s clock tower chimes ten at night.

Rimmed with fatigue, the neighbourhood

finally goes to sleep.

Waves hit pebbles on the beach

wishing the neighbourhood good dreams.

Layla saeeda. Good night. Layla saeeda.

Gazan Pigeon

My small bird sits on my left thigh,

listens to music with me on YouTube.

It tries to sing but remains mute— 

numb tongue and featherless wings. 

In the street, 

my neighbour’s child waited for

his dad many days.

He searched for him 

in photo albums in months gone by.

The boy, having trained his small 

carrier pigeon,

now ties his handwritten notes

to the bird’s little feet 

to fly and visit his father 

in Negev Prison—

far away.

Palestinian Streets

My city’s streets are nameless.

If a Palestinian gets killed by a sniper or a drone,

we name the street after them.

Children learn their numbers best

when they can count how many homes or schools

were destroyed, how many mothers and fathers

were wounded or thrown into jail.

Grownups in Palestine use their IDs only

so as not to forget

who they are.

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