Jehan Bseiso poems

Gaza goes back to school

School is now home and shelter for thousands.
Students are displaced or dead, injured or orphaned.
Teacher throws her body on the children to hide them.
Books are smoke and ashes.

Math is 51 days, 2,200 dead 10,000 injured
Land divided, settlements multiply.

Geography is we make our own map from the river to the sea.

How do you teach justice in an open-air prison?


Gaza, Khan Younis, Jabaliya, Beit Hanoun – still standing.
Beit Lahiya, Deir al-Balah, Bani Suhaila – we’re alive.
Haifa, Yafa, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, Ramallah – present
Al Quds – still here.

Poetry is: No poetry in this.
No song under siege, only little shoes under the rubble.

Beit al-Alami, Beit al-Batsh, Dar Abu Ali– present

All my sisters are dead.

How do you unlearn loss?

Beit Shaaban, Beit Alhajj, Beit Najjar – dead or absent.
Maryam- bullet in the head
Mahdi- still in the hospital
We couldn’t find Yaseen, we couldn’t find Yaseen, we couldn’t find Yaseen.
For 51 days.

How do you teach justice in an open-air prison?

Words on fire. Class is full.





Gaza from the diaspora part II


Today in Jabaliya, Khan Younis, in Rafah and Shujaiya,
We are still burying the dead we find, but the living ask:
Wayn Nrouh?
(where to now)
Shu Nsawyi?
(what to do now)
Samidoun; means we last.


Habeebi, today you reminded me we under the same sky.
But Nowhere refuge. Only refugees.
Skip breakfast with militias in Benghazi, have lunch in Homs under the rubble.
Leave your house in Mosul.
Leave your house in Mosul.
Leave your house in Mosul.
Three times in one week.
Take your body to Beirut, your heart still beating in Aleppo.
Take your body to Amman, your heart still beating in Gaza.
Take the death boats from Egypt and Libya to Italy, leave your children on the shore.


Arab Offspring forecast is cloudy;
with prospects of unseasonal paradigm shift.
I don’t know politiks, but something about this brand of terror tastes like Burger King.
Take back your Jihadis for hire.
Take back your F16s, your drones, your bombs from the sky in Iraq, in Libya, in Yemen.


Dear Diaspora,
Maybe you have a good job.
You’re happy.
You work with Pepsi.
You work at Memac and Ogilvy.
You don’t know if they will close the Novartis head office in Beirut tomorrow because
another bomb went off.
You don’t take cabs in Cairo anyway.
You don’t want to move to Dubai like everybody.


Dear Diaspora,
Don’t sponsor occupation with your Jordanian Dinars, Dirhams, Dollars and Pound Sterling.


Habeebi, I thought you lost my number, turns out you lost your legs,
On the way to the hospital from Khan Younis to Jabaliya to Rafah.
The border is closed, but my heart tunnel.


Gaza from the diaspora – part I

Even from space Gaza is on fire, is

Children, sheltering in UNRWA schools (hit), is,

Entire families huddled in hospitals (hit), is

You sitting perfectly still in the dark, hoping this one,

Will miss you.


From Amman, from Beirut, in Chicago.

We, online, yes.

But no 146 characters this.

1000 killed, 4000 injured, thousands displaced no place.


Twitter feeds and facebook timelines and

10 reasons why you should boycott Israel Now, and

5 Ways Children Die in Gaza today or

How to Lose 18 members of Your Family in One Minute

(@Bibi54 stop saying the rockets are in the damn hospitals, in the school rooms, under the beds of four year olds)

Maybe it helps that 8 Celebrities Expressed Their Outrage.

tweeted and deleted.

(@CNN@Foxnews Bas rewriting history, Bas lies on tv)

@Jon Stewart, thank you for educating the silent majority with satire.


Day 17: What happened? what is still happening?

In Jabaliya, the dead console the dying ;

Anisa, with one child in her arms, and another in her belly (dead).

In the hospital, they put the pregnant women alone, because they’re carrying hope, because they don’t want them to see what can happen to children.

Oh white phosphorous (and unconfirmed reports of illegal dense inert metal explosives).


I can confirm this:

International law, is clearly for internationals only.

By now, a 7 year old in Gaza has survived 3 wars already, and you’re still talking about talks, and sending John Kerry to the Middle East, and thanking Egypt for facilitating nothing.

There’s more blood than water today in Gaza.

Hashtag Gaza

To the children who lost their lives, and the parents who had to bury them.

Bring your camera.
Bring your candles and spotlights to highlight.
Bring your focus to hashtag anniversary.

Everyday Gaza.

Bring your reporters, your journalists, your moving infographics.


Abu Muhammad sits on the balcony, cradling the head of Muhammad.
“The photo of the head of Muhammad.”

Talk about bomb shelters and war sirens in Sderot and Tel Aviv.
Call it “Neutrality”

Talk about your 5 dead and your iron dome.
Call it “Objective Reality”

Bring your billion dollar pledges and your aid caravans
Your excel sheets, monitoring reports and donor requirements.
Call it “Accountability”


Abu Muhammmad sits on the balcony hopelessly smokes a hopeless cigarette talks about lack of hope.”

This one is human interest story.

And when we invite you into our rubble homes for tea and bread you call it “Generosity.”

And when we are strong about our suffering you call it “Resilience.”


51 days.
2,000 dead.
10,000 wounded.

Abu Muhammad says:

My boys took a ball to the beach.
Came back bodies.

How can we remember what we can’t forget?







At curious four I asked my mother why Superman did not speak the same language I did

She told me that

Our cartoon hero is a little boy forever ten

His hands clasped behind his back, invisible handcuffs

She told me I had to learn another alphabet, another geography,

In the Big Yellow Atlas, for kids, full of pictures

We stenciled in your awkward shape into maps that didn’t even want you

We had to learn your name in their language

They told me I spoke funny.

So I rinsed my accent at school; madraseh instead of madrasa

I read about diaspora and exile and power structures

Without knowing what they meant

So you’re American? On paper

And Jordan? Is what I know

And Gaza? An old wives tale

We are bastard children of hyphens and supplements and sentences that start with

Originally I’m from…

At home,

Baba counted in dead bodies, in ratios, and for breakfast we had

Nostalgia and symbols

We read Kanafani, Darwiche and Said

When we found tongues

We learned to speak from the margins of pages,

From the periphery

Maybe this is Freud’s “oceanic feeling”.

A veritable storehouse in the unconscious

To be from a place and not know the place

There are simpler ways of being in the world, I’m told.

Still I choose Za’tar and Shatta and this awkward Fat’a.