A man wailing is not a dancing bear. —Aimé CésaireThere’s death in the eyes of this newborn.I heard the baby complain about a treacherous defeat,called it the same old catastrophe.A storm in his ear says it’s raging for silence.Thunder erupts when he’s shushed.What a worsened scenario. He skipped ahead.What do you do when your destiny is predetermined?Life in this hospital laughs at us.Long is the wait. Wild is the wind.6I ask if there’s a wedding going on.The nurse complained of the clouds.If I were a stupid flower, I’d wither under the rain.They asked her, What’s wrong with the flower?not What’s wrong with the rain?———————————————6 After Nina Simone’s record.
“Wednesday” from RIFQA: by Mohammed El-Kurd.
Published by Haymarket Books on October 12, 2021.
Copyright © 2021 by Mohammed El-Kurd.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Mohammed El-Kurd is an internationally-touring poet and writer from Jerusalem, Palestine. His work has been featured in The Guardian, This Week In Palestine, Al-Jazeera English, The Nation, and the forthcoming Vacuuming Away Fire Anthology, among others. Mohammed graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a B.F.A. in Writing, where he created Radical Blankets, an award-winning multimedia poetry magazine. He is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in Poetry from Brooklyn College. His poetry-oud album, Bellydancing On Wounds, was released in collaboration with Palestinian musical artist Clarissa Bitar. Apart from poetry and writing, el-Kurd is a visual artist, printmaker, and most recently, co-designer of a fashion collection with Serbian designer Tina Gancev. Mohammed has spent his undergraduate weekends performing poetry at campuses and cultural centers across the United States and hopes to continue in the post-COVID-19 era.
“May these poems challenge and awaken you. May they shake you into action. May they help you find the words for what you already know to be true... These words remind me that home is a series of shared memories, not brick and mortar. Home is where we go to remember and revisit who we’ve always been. Mohammed El-Kurd’s poetry is a home returned to us.”
—Aja Monet, from the foreword
“Rooted in Palestine and ranging across the world, these are poems that hurl themselves at the boundaries of what poems can do; lyrics that put a premium on anger, that reflect the serrated edges of living in the world today, that gift new and powerful phrases to the lexicon of liberation.”
—Ahdaf Soueif, author of Cairo: My City, Our Revolution
“Rifqa is an absolute marvel, and El-Kurd is precisely the kind of poet— Palestinian or otherwise—we need right now: unafraid of the truth. The legacy of his grandmother, the eponymous Rifqa, flits across these poems, and with it comes wisdom, hope, and, most crucially of all, memory… El-Kurd doesn’t flinch from the violence and death that comes with dispossession. But make no mistake. These are the poems of the defiantly, unapologetically, wholly alive.”
—Hala Alyan, author, The Arsonists’ City