Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Running Orders

by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha — with Alan Dawson.

From a post on Facebook by Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland)'s photo. 

They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think "Do I know any Davids in Gaza?"

They call us now to say
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth

Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.

It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.

It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.

It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.


  1. Wonderful, moving, sad, real poem, thanks.

  2. Forgot to mention that this poem reminded me of songs by David Rovics, several he has written for Palestinians, and Aurora Levins Morales poem, "Schma", also June Jordan's "Intifada", have you ever posted these here?

    David's lyrics and the poems are wonderful. I have no clue if posting someone else's work without express permission is legal or ethical, just thought I would share for anyone to read. And I have even less of a clue as to how to link to them, bit of a novice on a lot of social media stuff.