maybe if , ash & smolder way the – tongue own my in never but song this heard i've
there’s – it birthed who fire the not & gospel become can , mouth right the in seen
a , arabic your of fall minor the – flame still is , core its at which , prayer bluest your
god finds , tremor oud shrieks country a , somewhere – before us failed has which flag
above throne his builds man a , somewhere – fifth the , fourth the – lungs tenor on
all , earth still – lullaby into them writes & song ceaseless their claims , undoing the
i’ve ,yes – tongues moonlit in , brash , spoke who children of empty , streets marble
ever you – handed- bloody , doves the twinned – history this from devil the archangel-ed
learned we land the somewhere – song its in voice your lose you’d much so country a love
from skyward & permanent , contour memorized every – inherited we land the also is
love to me teach , Mennel – from came they birds metal the to up back hurling not-bombs
was always history our , sing you because – another unmothering without country a
how – you in translation refused revolution the : unwinged paradise – march victory
to sent & bleached i arabic an , this – hollow & fullthroated us demand ,ي& ا its shoots english – days these alive me keep can words few so because , colonizer a
somebody’s like , confident speak to me demands & teeth my down arrows cold
who arabic your , first , was it – throat my in itself of home a make didn’t fist broken**
– outdrew prayer from ,to singing worth god a made – key major a in Hallelujah’ed
– throat your in organ the , Hallelujah
– resurrect lungs your Palestine the , Hallelujah
– you through running dead restless of choir the , Hallelujah
– stone & wind its , earth this of you , Hallelujah
– you of sound the at trembling breathing everything
*Rules of engagement: if the poem is to be read from right to left, it is to be observed unredacted. If the poem is to be read from left to right, the reader must impose redactions of the English language. If the poem is to be read down its right and/or left margins, it is to be sung in Mennel’s voice.
هي ليست بصرخة .. تسمعها ليلاً وليس بشخصٍ ما قد رأى النوم**
NOTE: This poem was written in response to French Morrocan singer Mennel Ibtissam, who auditioned for The Voice (France) with a translation of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in Arabic. Shortly after the competition, her video for the audition went viral and subsequently, white nationalists found her social media, stalked, and harassed her for tweets critiquing French Islamophobia and tweets critiquing Israel's occupation of Palestine. Thereafter, she was doxxed and harassed into quitting the competition.
Note: A footnote in Arabic appears for the poem which is intentionally unread in the recording in alignment with the poem's form.
Added: Friday, October 16, 2020 / Used with permission.
George Abraham is a Palestinian American poet from Jacksonville, FL. They are the author of the debut poetry collection Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020), as well as the chapbooks the specimen's apology (Sibling Rivalry Press) and al youm (The Atlas Review). They are a board member for the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI), winner of the Best Poet title from the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, and a recipient of fellowships from Kundiman and The Boston Foundation. Their work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, West Branch, Mizna, and elsewhere. He is currently based in Somerville, MA, where he is a Bioengineering PhD candidate at Harvard University, and teaches in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. To learn more, visit George's website.