Image by John Kazior

Poetry To the Watchlist

George Abraham

a disappearing ghazal for my body, staying

I get it. You’re obsessed with me.
Damn the waters, now you’ll be blessed with me.

When did you get this fabulous? A beloved said after reading
your little profile, your unintentional publicity for me.

I still hope someone spits in a zionist’s salad today,
& not in a sexy way — Happy Aries Season to me!

Call it what you will — double-take, bio-weapon, terrorist’s
sympathy, etc — you’ll never get a body’s apology from me.

It began with a need to be seen. Now
you’ve made a garden in the seeing of me.

Who Midased the touch golden? Who echoed
the body a dis-remembrance? Was it me?

From the water’s perspective, Narcissus was a failed
experiment in surveillance: gays into me/gaze into me.

Screenshot your c*nary mi$$ion page for dating
, a friend jokes. I was a child in your photo of me.

In a life where he mattered — the Palestinian boy disappeared
mid-school day over a Facebook post — he’d be named Ganymede.


They made me feel observed, she said after small talk over dinner
with poets, to which I replied, maybe that’s why they’re dear to ] [

My girlfriend’s still around, he said while asking to reschedule
after a month’s phone-tag, I can’t be open around her like I can with ] [

It wasn’t the straight boy coming out to himself, but how he learned
to forgive his father, in that after, that made it a love story to ] [

Take me to Ibiza after, my subconscious asked him in the dream
before waking to a message, I can’t wait to escape this hellhole with ] [

Love more like ya qamar than malek(at)i, more hayat
than habib, more habib than — don’t say burial, don’t bury ] [

How imtalak, to own, shares its root with malakeh, queen, means
to have a body is to queen myself, the distance between pleasure & ] [

I love showing off to you, he whispered into the hole, collapsing
our cross-costal distance. I like to watch, said my quivering ] [

(Can you see it yet? I’m beating you to respectability’s
punch-line: in the heart of the empire, I dared to want ] [ )

The ars poetica is where my body feels most
at stake
, I say, while running from a poem about ] [


But does there even exist a poem
where my body has ever not been
at stake?
I ask the muse
who names himself

my center, writing love
always in the shadow
of empire, but never empire
collapsed into dust

beneath the shadow
of a new sun, made possible
by names for light beyond
mere distance: not stellar

but dizzying still
in spin & endless, not moon
of sky but qamar
of the face rising, setting

east of nowhere but the space
of bedside impressions.
Lift open my curtains,
if you must — see me

in the light of your own
eclipsing — catch me
breathless in quiver, starstruck
by nothing but my name.

George Abraham (they/هو) is a Palestinian American poet and the author of Birthright, which won the Arab American Book Award. They are currently Mizna’s Executive Editor, and are coediting a global Palestinian poetry anthology for Haymarket Books.