Some of us wake up
to rooms and brewed coffee

and the low clatter of spoons
filling up the kitchen

while the voice
of an elderly

the street below

our balcony


like a drifting tune
till we no longer hear him.


Here comes the fruit cart
selling tangerines like tiny fists.

Here comes the man who measures
the weight

of chestnuts only to burn them
on a low fire.

Everywhere, children
are breastfeeding other children.


War     within


and the sea

the size of our lungs

we choke on the bones of those

who drowned and never arrived

or never left/

/this Mediterranean overpass to


Sabah el khair are two words
of a prayer.

We used to think that refugees
were of one kind

and we never knew
that we were too.


My aunt says a woman
is like the soil, like the land,

el maraa mitil el ard

giving back despite
the pounding of army

boots and the blue fists
of men on our skin.

Giving back in orange
groves and children

even though her body
her land lost

eighteen and forced to walk
the length

of exile to get here.


Here the streets are stray
cats. The streets are gossip

in the mouths of men.
/Minarets creaking like

old forgotten beds./

You say these men kill
with their hands, their teeth,

their swords, this is the way
they open countries.

You say you have no
idea who their god is

and why
but you know exactly

how only some of us
wake up to rooms

and brewed coffee
to the low clatter of spoons filling up

the kitchen
like a cruel laugh in our chest—

Rewa Zeinati

Rewa Zeinati is the founder and editor of the online literary magazine Sukoon, an Arab-themed journal of arts and literature in English. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Bullets and Orchids, which was a strong contender for the Arab American Book Award in 2014, and the creative nonfiction book Nietzsche's Camel Must Die. Her poems, essays, and translations have been published in various literary journals and anthologies in the US, UK, and Arab region. She lives and works in Beirut.