jazelle jajeh

I never take the right pictures

remember how we walk in the old church at night
laughing in a lot where kids line up for school
get their fingernails checked for color
where kids all look alike
in america the comedian asks Who here is first generation
brown hands make up the saddest sea
declaration of hopeless
of here, cause what else?
remember how each branch strings fingers from old baked earth/colossal hot sky
we spend the show looking around at each other
empty spaces in our eye bags we laugh/What else
in Ramallah they have a parade for all the returned
my cousins dance with Teta, we never seen exile this happy before
we dance because what other way to breathe
we dance cause no one taught us how
but we watched all those Lebanese music videos for something
a man in red and gold pours coffee from a pot filled with flowers strung around his body
he winks    at any of us        at the sky    at all the Returned
and all their Desperate
and their Joy.
remember how the call to prayer wakes me up every morning and i know, in terms of divinity,
nothing here is temporary
and i leave
because what else
i forget the winking and the hot sky and the Desperate Joy
i’m left only
with small phrases i picked up
An isneck
Excuse me
No one taught me how to dance
Asalam alaikum    Please      Let me stay



I find reflections menacing, They don’t know where they’ve been.

once, they asked me to play my country in a movie i couldn’t remember the lines
the costumes broke my heart because they were costumes
because they matched my skin perfectly
in one scene, I sit in an orange grove while the sun braids my hair
they come with bad news
the sun will burn and leave us
i will be home to no one
and especially
this is a world where bad men sleep well. With their eyes a little open.
in the movie, i weep with my eyes a little open
i don’t even need to cut onions first
in another scene
i sew myself into a tapestry. I break off pieces of my hands and give them to girls born heavy
with someone else’s dirt
in another scene, i am stones, molotovs, keffiyehs,
later, i am a funeral
in another , i shake my head at the camera
i lower myself into the ground
there is no ground
what i mean is     the film erases itself before it is finished
it looms over us and our hands made of cobwebs
so i’m saying        i come from unfinished business
tragedy of the can’t go home until it’s over. tragedy of there is no over and so there is no home
and so
i erased myself from candlelight
i never liked being too near to fires




screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-2-47-55-amJazelle Jajeh is a student at the University of San Francisco, studying English, Middle Eastern Studies, and Education. She is the 2016 winner of the Ghassan Kanafani Scholarship. She hopes to teach someday in Palestine, and to learn, and be kind, and have more words for everything.





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